Friday, April 07, 2006

Spindle's End - Robin McKinley [March/06]

Spindle's End was one of the last novels I read in March, and I was much pleased with it. I really like novels that are fairy tale retellings, and this one retold the famous Sleeping Beauty story. Robin McKinley is an author I had been meaning to read for quite some time, so I was happy when I finally tracked down a novel by her.

I love some of the things that Robin McKinley does with this famous story. It is a similar beginning, with the King and Queen having a hard time having a child. It took fifteen years for the young princess to be born. Then, there was the evil fairy, the difference being that she had an argument with another Queen and decided to take it out on this princess. After all the fairies had presented their gifts to the young princess, she swoops in and proclaims the dreaded curse on the baby girl. That is where the similarieties with the original Sleeping Beauty pretty much end. Each town had been allowed to send one representative to the babies christening. One of these was Katriona, whose life changed because of that invitation. The baby was cursed, but a young fairy with very little powers saved her and brought her to live with her family until it was safe for the young princess.

One of the things I liked a lot was most people remember that when the fairies are giving out presents it is things like physical perfection and amazing skills. What McKinley did was give the child these skills, but she made her a tomboy of sorts who was little concerned with how she looked and any of the household skills that most women were expected to know. Besides, the physical attributes were perfect, but that did not automatically mean that the princess was the most beautiful in all the land. She just had nice things about her.

The story follows the life of the young princess and her adopted family in exile. No one knows where the princess is, they just know that the evil fairy does not have her yet. Spinning wheels had to remove their pointed pieces, and were replaced with spindle ends. These were figuartive carvings made to replace the points found on spinning wheel. One spindle end plays a very important part in the novel, though, and both of these things relate to where the novel gets its title. I think I like this version better than the original, actually, simply because the women in the novel are more than just figures to look at in attraction. It is a great novel for anyone that feels adults need fairy tales of their own. Not that the originals cannot be enjoyed by all ages.


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