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The Lunar Chronicles: Winter Review!

I’m back! I know, I know, three months off seems a little excessive, but hey! This is just for fun, right?

I’m finally going to talk to you about the last book of the Lunar Chronicles series, Winter.

I have one word: DAMN!

No, three words: oh my DAMN!

This book was intense. As per the previous novels, each story has a underlying fairytale that accompanies each character that the book kind follows. Each character is loosely based on a fairytale, but mostly the author just rips apart everything you ever knew and turns it into something completely different. The first book was a take on Cinderella, the second on Little Red Riding Hood, the third on Rapunzel, the fourth on the Wicked Step Mother, and the fifth and final book in the series, on Snow White.

Okay, now that you’re all caught up: this book was crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a book series that captured my attention from the start and kept it this much even three months after I’ve finished it since Harry Potter. Seriously, if I weren’t so busy (and didn’t have a hundred books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet) I would have already re-read this series.

winterMarissa Meyer does an absolutely phenomenal job portraying each and every character and I’m so impressed that she was able to jump from point of view to point of view, while still keeping track of five different characters at once. It’s absolutely incredible and awe-inspiring to read a book from someone so talented.

Winter is definitely tied for the darkest book of the series, which I didn’t think was possible after reading Fairest. Both books are the type that you read and say, “that’s fucked up.” every ten pages or so, which was (weirdly) a breath of fresh air.

You see, from looking at the beautiful covers of these novels you would not for one second think it would get as dark and twisted as these books do, but I love that!!! Every turn is surprising and new and I never know what is going to happen. I’m pretty certain that those two books have more scarring content of any young adult novel I’ve ever read.

There is psychological and physical abuse. There is madness to the point of taking control of other people’s minds and having them stab people. There is gruesome accounts of burning alive. There’s basically almost molestation, and there’s an all out war. You expect plot points like these for regular fiction novels, but never for a young adult novel! I think it’s absolutely astonishing that Meyer was able to take these very adult themes and manipulate them and turn them into beautiful lessons and just beautiful stories overall.

The ONLY negative thing I can say about this book (and I’m not even sure it’s a negative, really) is that the ending isn’t a traditional happily ever after. It has those elements, yes. But each group of stories within the larger story has a much different ending than I would have expected. But is that a negative? I’m not so sure. I think it just makes it more realistic.

If you love books that are loosely based on very grim fairy tales (ha! – grim fairy tales;  Grimm’s fairy tales… funny right? No? Okay, I’ll just wait over here…), if you love romance stories, action stories, science fiction stories, young adult fiction, alternative future stories, scary-ish stories, I have no reason to believe you would not love these books. Each one is so unique and so special that I just have nothing bad to say.

I’m also going to add an image that was on the inside of the front and back covers for Winter because it’s absolutely ASTOUNDING! Artemisia.jpgFor book cover art, it’s easily one of the most captivating images I’ve seen.

Good job, Marissa Meyer! I can’t wait to see what you produce next!

Again, I’m sorry it took me three months to get to writing this, please don’t ston me to death! I swear I’ll try to do these quicker. For those who stuck around and waited for this last installment, thank you – I hope I didn’t disappoint, because this series sure as hell didn’t!

If you have any questions or comments or just want to say hi, I’ll leave my e-mail address below. In case I don’t get the chance beforehand, Happy Thanksgiving all!

Gobble gobble,

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Cress and Fairest – Marissa Meyer Reviews

Hi friends! I’m almost done with the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer!

When we talked last, I had paused reading Cress, the third novel in the installment, so I could read the newest Harry Potter book (!!! – I’ve already done my review if you’d like to read it!) Well, once I finished reading that, I picked up where I left off, and boy was it good.

For those who don’t know, the series is a play on different fairy tales, for example, the first book is centered around Cinder – a well known mechanic who is trying to save her sister from the worldwide plague, Letumosis. The story gets crazy from there, but let me just say: this is no fairy tale story. Unless you’re counting the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, in which case – yeah, that seems about right.

The other books are Scarlet (a play off of Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), Fairest (a prequel following around the evil Lunar queen, Levana), and lastly Winter (Snow White) which is the last of the series.

So since we last talked, I read both Cress and Fairest and holy shit. Let’s do this one at a time:

Cress:

cress-final-e1378337072559This story follows a girl named Cress. She’s been kept in isolation for her whole life spying on Earth for Queen Levana. She’s awkward, anxious, socially inept, and totally in love with Carswell Thorne – a friend of Cinder’s. I don’t want to give too much away because I really think you should read this series, but she and Carswell have to go on an adventure together, while Cinder is left to deal with a huge amount of problems and worries with the rest of their crew.

This book hit me harder than the two previous novels. As an awkward, anxious and socially inept person myself, I fit in with her. I also have a shit ton of hair, so I feel like she and I have a connection.

This book was written spectacularly, and I thought the story was above most fiction I’ve read recently. The character development was not only great to watch unfold but felt really genuine. I really feel like I’m watching these characters develop before my eyes and love it!!!!!

This book was pretty big, over 400 pages I think. But it went by so quickly. It’s just such a great read!

Fairest:

5119ihf8lulThis book is fucked up. I’m putting that out there now. It’s fucked up, but it’s awesome. This is the fourth book in the series and serves as a prequel to everything we know from the beginning of Cinder on.

It follows Levana back when she was just a princess, and her jerk sister, Channary, was Queen. It follows her path of destruction, her manipulation and basically slavery of the man she “loves”.

My boyfriend can tell you: I said aloud quite a few times while I was reading, “Wow, that’s really fucked up.”

Seriously I don’t want to ruin everything, but one thing that we know from the beginning of the series (it’s not a surprise) is that Levana killed her niece by burning down her nursery because the young Princess Selene was too powerful. She burned down a nursery to kill her niece. Legitimate murder. Straight up, no remorse, killing an innocent child murder. Dat’s fucked up.

This whole book was just one horrible thing after another, but I thought it was incredible. It was a great way to actually get inside the mind of this horrible Queen and what her justifications are for doing such horrendous things.

I’ve mentioned before that I love crime books, serial killer books, and things that really let you get inside a messed up person’s mind. I like to hear their reasoning and try to understand why someone would do something so terrible: this book did not disappoint. I felt like this book was almost as messed up and as amazing as the book I read about Carl Panzram (Panzram: A Journal of Murder Review) which was an incredibly messed up book. I think because it’s fiction it’s not as terrible and disgusting to read, but the way that Meyer writes the story feel so real that I was sitting there like, “someone better kill this bitch. Oh wait, she’s just misunderstood. Nope. Nevermind, BURN HER!”

highly, highly, highly recommend this book series. I’m about 250 pages in the last book, Winter, and it’s sooo good. It’s incredible. And I just can’t praise this series highly enough.

This series appeals to not just the young adult fans, but also the fans of science fiction, of war, of fantasy, of fairy tales, of romance – it has everything. It’s one of the most exciting series’ that I’ve read in a very long time, and I just absolutely love it!

Marissa Meyer, keep up the good work.

10/10 for both books. 8 thumbs up! 12/10 dentists would recommend.

Until next time,

Rachel

If you have any opinions on the series, or any questions, or even just want to chat – you can leave a comment down below or you shoot me a message to rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Cinder – Marissa Meyer… Just Read It!

I just finished the BEST book. I’ll preface this by saying that it is a young adult novel, but it really doesn’t read like one.

The book is called Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It’s a spin on, obviously, Cinderella. But unlike the fairy tale, this book does not have a happy ending.cinder_book_cover

Okay okay, I won’t spoil anything. But here’s some info:

So this book takes place in the future, after World War IV, in New Beijing. Cinder, a cyborg mechanic, lives in a world filled with plague brought on by the race of “Lunar” people on the moon. Much like when Europeans explored the new world and brought Smallpox, the Lunar people would escape the moon because of their tyrannical ruler Levana, and come to Earth, bringing new diseases that Earthen people were not used to – the plague is called Letumosis.

The whole of New Beijing is excited for the ball that Prince Kai is the special guest for – they’re even suspecting that he’ll find a new bride there! Cinder’s stepsister loves Kai. Poeny is one of Cinders best friends, and would do anything for her, despite the fact that her cruel mother and other stepsister don’t care anything about Cinder and even blame her for the death of Garan, the father of the girls and husband of Adri.

As a very well known and renowned mechanic, even though she is only 16, she gets the attention of Prince Kai, who needs one his androids fixed. But the prince doesn’t know she’s a cyborg and the story progresses from there and takes some insanely crazy turns.

It’s been a little while since I’d read a young adult novel, and I was not disappointed at all. I’ve mentioned quite a few times that I’ve been reading quite slowly recently, but I read through this novel in 7 days, despite the fact that it’s over 400 pages.

This book is the first in a series of five books, and I’m so excited to read more. The day before I finished the book I bought the next in the series, called Scarlet which incorporates a Red Riding Hood theme.cover-set-2-1024x253

So far, I can not rave highly enough of this book. Anyone who has been reading my posts for any amount of time knows how much I love fairy tales, how much I love young adult novels and how much I love science fiction. This book is all three, and is basically my perfect novel.

If you like any one of those three things, you will undoubtedly like this book. It’s fantastic.

Go read it!

If you have read it and want to talk about it as much as I want to talk about it, leave a comment or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Until next time!

Rachel

Book vs Movie: Cinderella

“Cinderelly, Cinderelly, night and day it’s Cinderelly….” It’s been a week and that song is still stuck in my head.

So, now comes part two of our Cinderella adventure. All week I’ve been wanting to watch the new Cinderella movie once more to be super accurate with my findings. But I’ve settled for memory and Wikipedia – and let’s be honest, Wikipedia never lies.

So let the duel begin!

I mentioned last time the difference between the original written version of Cinderella and the Disney version of Cinderella. In this one we’re discussing the combination of the original Cinderella AND the Disney version versus the live-action Disney Cinderella. So basically it’s really “Book and Movie vs Movie” – I’m sorry for totally stretching the lines of the whole book vs movie thing.

First, I’d like to mention that I actually really loved the new 2015 live-action version of Cinderella. I was worried when I heard they were making it because I had been getting more and more disenchanted with the original for many years, and heard this movie was pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original. However, I think this version was actually A LOT better than the original Disney version. Blasphemous, I know. But true.

Here’s my reasoning: this version, while still upholding the usual Disney Princess, classic (and literal) from rags to riches tale, gave the character so much more depth. They gave Cinderella her own mind, her own opinions, and still kept the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales edge!

The movie starts out with a young Cinderella (she goes by Ella) and her loving, devoted parents. Her mom sings her “Lavender’s Blue,” which is an old seventeenth century lullaby that I’d heard before but never knew the name until I looked it up on Wikipedia. It’s a rather beautiful song, and it fits the story very well. The song essentially is about two people who love each other and will be King and Queen one day. But not in the usual “DAMNIT, I WISH I WERE A KING!” sense. More in the, “I love you, and one day we’ll have the world together” sense. It’s very pretty.

“Lavender’s green, dilly, dilly, Lavender’s blue,

If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.

Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly, And the lambs play,

We shall be safe, dilly, dilly, out of harm’s way.

How sweet! But anyway, this song is engrained in Cinderella’s head forever, and she always sings it when she’s alone.

The mother gets sick and tells Ella to always be kind and be brave. This is something that’s mentioned in the original Grimm’s version as well, the mother tells Cinderella to be kind and to trust in God. In the movie, when the mother dies, father and daughter both go through a long period of time when they grieve for the mother. Eventually the father believes he has found a woman who will make him happy. Ella wants her father to be happy and gives him her blessing to marry this woman, and to take in her two daughters.

Much like the written version, the father goes on a trip and promises lavish gifts for the step-daughters, but Ella only wants whatever twig happens to hit his hat first. Once he goes away, the step mother begins to treat Ella poorly, giving her own daughters the best bedrooms in the house and moving Ella into the cold attic. Not long after, they get word that the father has died (unlike in the written story, which still bothers me). A while goes by, the step mother has designated Ella as their housekeeper and servant and begin calling her Cinderella due to the cinders on her face after sleeping near the fire to keep warm all night. Ella has no one to turn to, and believes that the mice that live in her attic understand her and help her. YES! The return of Jaq and Gus!!

This is where a lot of things change, because the movie ends up delving deeper into the prince’s side of the story with his father, whereas in every other version all we know is that the prince is having a ball and will choose a bride. In the movie they discuss the fact that princes have to marry princesses. The ball where he gets to choose a bride may seem as though he can choose any girl he pleases, but law dictates that the prince must marry someone of royalty, so royalty will attend the ball and he will choose from them.

The next part everyone knows: Cinderella wants to go to the ball, after getting dolled up and ready for the it, the step mother refuses to take her with them, and tears the dress she’s wearing to pieces. Completely devastated, Ella goes into the backyard and cries, when a fairy godmother shows up to lend her witchy hand. She gives Ella a beautiful gown, and turns the mice into horses, a pumpkin into a carriage, and a goose into the driver who says something along the lines of, “I’m a goose. I don’t think I can drive.”

She goes to the ball and the prince falls madly for her, but she has to leave by midnight, so she runs away from her love and loses her glass slipper on the steps. The prince demands that all the women in the area try on this slipper and if it fits their foot, she’s the one (still kind of backwards logic, but I’ll let it slide). The wicked step mother knows that Ella is the one he’s looking for when she finds the other glass slipper in the attic, and locks her away in there so no one will find her.

When the prince comes calling, the lady of the house has her two daughters try the shoe on, to no avail. The prince asks if there is anyone else in the house, but no one is found. Knowing that the prince is going to leave, the mice in the attic open up the window as Ella is singing “Lavender’s Blue” to herself.

The prince finds Ella, tries the shoe on her foot, and it fits! Hooray! The prince’s father has agreed to let them marry despite the fact that she is not royalty because he knows the prince loves her. Remembering the promise to her mother to be kind, Ella has forgiven her step-mother for all the cruelty throughout the years. The prince takes her away and they live happily ever after.

Honestly it’s pretty close to the first Disney movie, complete with mice. But there are some very interesting undertones that one wouldn’t assume are actually a part of the story unless you know the Grimm’s Fairy Tales version, such as the promise to her mother to be kind. That’s why I thought the movie was spectacular. Don’t get me wrong, I love the songs in the original, and I love the fact that it was a classic tale of rags-to-riches. But this version has more substance and it was researched properly.

That said, I have a bit of an issue with the book vs movie tally because while I like the original written story, the father was still alive! ARRRG! So for the first time ever I’m going to say:

The winner of the duel is: Cinderella – 2015 live-action film.

Book: 3 Movie: 3

Until next time!

If you have any fairy tales you want me to look over, or even just want to say hi, you can post a comment on here or send me an email at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. Also if you’re enjoying the blog you can now follow me via the “follow by e-mail” box on the right! Hope to hear from you soon!

Rachel

Fairy Tale Fails – Cinderella

Welcome to another exciting episode of Fairy Tale Fails! This week’s fairy tale is probably the most common of all of the tales, and has sparked many movie adaptations and even books based off the story: Cinderella. That’s why this post is going to be in two parts. One part discussing the story (that’s this post), the other discussing the book versus the most recent Disney live-action adaptation.

So let’s get started! I, for one, loved the old Disney Cinderella movie growing up. “Cinderelly! Cinderelly! Night and day it’s Cinderelly!” In fact, I’m pretty sure I sang that particular line over and over again in line to see the new Cinderella. My boyfriend must really love me to stick around after a) seeing Into the Woods and hating it, even though I loved it, b) THEN agreeing to see Cinderella in theaters even though I’m sure he was positive he’d hate it and c) standing in line for a long time before we could enter the movie with me singing an annoying line of an old Disney song in the voices of Jaq and Gus the mice.

That said though, in recent years it’s become one of my least favorite Disney Princess movies, mostly for the same reason I don’t care for Snow White – she doesn’t really have a wide range of self-anything. It’s all about waiting for a prince to come and take her away. And when she does get a prince to come and take her away, it’s like her life is just about this new prince. There’s nothing that says that she enjoys knitting, or gardening, or playing basketball. It’s all about being rescued by a prince. And in no way does the prince ever say “you know what, lady. I see that you’ve been treated poorly. I want you to know that I’d never treat you poorly, and I want to marry you.” No. Instead he says, “I’ll marry whomever this shoe fits!” and she’s all for it!

What if her feet were swollen the day he came around because she’d been dancing all night in glass shoes? Her foot wouldn’t fit the shoe, and he’d go find someone else. It seems foolish that he’d find someone who’s foot fits the shoe and doesn’t look anything like the person he met the previous night, but marry her anyway because her feet were the right size. Bizarre.

So we know the basic story, a girl is living happily with her parents when her mother dies. Her father finally gets a new wife, and that wife comes with two daughters. The father dies and the stepmother runs the house. The girls are cruel and force Cinderella to clean, cook, and take care of everything as a peasant even though she’s the rightful heir to the home. The king announces a ball in which the young prince will choose his new bride. Cinderella wants to go, but is told that she can only go if she does a whole bunch of chores and is ready on time. She does get everything done on time, but the stepmother and daughters tear her clothes to shreds and tell her she cant come.

That’s when her fairy godmother shows up and gives her a beautiful dress and shoes, and a giant carriage, complete with manservants, and goes to the ball with the condition she back at midnight. She goes, she and the prince dance, she loses track of time and as she’s running down the castle steps, one of her glass slippers falls off and she keeps running. The prince sets out to find the foot that fits the shoe, and tries the shoes on the stepdaughters to no avail, but hears Cinderella singing and demands she be brought down to him. The shoe fits and they live happily ever after.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales published their version of the story in 1812, originally told by Giambattista Basile in 1634. The original Basile version was about a girl named Zezolla. In this version, she is the daughter of prince who has married a governess. The prince goes away and meets a fairy who gives him presents for Zezolla and the governess’s two daughters, who have turned Zezolla into their servant. One of the presents the prince brings back is a seed. Zezolla plants the seed and soon a tree grows. The King hosts a ball and a fairy living in the tree dresses Zezolla beautifully to attend. The king knows instantly that he loves her, but she escapes him twice. The third time she attends the ball she accidentally leaves her shoe behind. The king hosts a feast to have all the ladies try on the shoes, and when Zezolla comes near the shoe magically leaves his hand and returns to her foot. They marry.

The 1812 version is different, much more similar to the story we know now. In Grimm’s version, Cinderella, or technically Aschenputtel, German for “Ashfool,” is the daughter a wealthy man. When her mother gets sick she tells Cinderella (NOTE: I’m saying Cinderella because I’m no Ashfool. There’s no way I’m writing that insanely long name a ton of times. It’s Cinderella) that she should be kind and trust in God. The mother dies and the father remarries to a woman with two daughters, and they force her into being their servant. Here’s the difference though – the dad doesn’t die!! The dad is still there, going about his business, not caring that his daughter is now his servant. What?! INEXCUSABLE, SIR, INEXCUSABLE.

So Cinderella lives like this for a little while with only little white birds to keep her company, and then her father goes out and asks what the girls want as a present when he returns. She says “whatever twig hits your hat first.” He obliges. When he gives her the twig, she goes to her mothers grave and puts it on top, crying on it. Her tears make the twig turn into a tree, and every time Cinderella prays to the tree, the little doves flutter around it. She takes the birds as a sign from her mother in Heaven that they will protect her.

Finally the King says that the prince will be hosting a three-day ball, after which he will choose his bride. Cinderella begs her family to let her attend but her stepmother throws a bag of lentil on the floor and says that she can go, only if she can clean up every last piece of lentil she just threw down. With the help of the doves, she manages to pick up every piece of lentil in record time. The stepmother is displeased and tells her to do it again, throwing down even more lentils than the last time. The stepmother really doesn’t want her to go with them, so she grabs the stepdaughters and they leave without her while she’s cleaning.

Upset, she goes to the graveyard to visit her mother and a dove drops down a beautiful gown and silk shoes, along with a note saying that she has to be back before midnight. She dances with the prince, but leaves before the clock strikes twelve. The next night, the doves bring Cinderella another gown and glass shoes. Once again she entrances the prince, but leaves before midnight. On the third night, the prince refuses to lose her again so he puts tar on the steps so she wont be able to leave. Her golden slipper gets caught in the tar, but she leaves it behind and runs, safe at home.

The prince wants to find this mystery woman, so he sets out to marry the woman whose foot fits the slipper. He arrives at Cinderella’s house where the prince puts the slipper on the eldest daughter. It fits, and he takes her to ride back to the castle. On the way, the dove whispers in his ear that she cut off her toes so that the shoe would fit. He checks her foot and sees the blood. The prince brings her back, asking for the youngest stepdaughter, he puts the shoe on her foot and it fits. Unbeknownst to him, she cut off part of her heel to fit into the foot. On their way back to the castle the dove intervenes again, and upon seeing the blood from the second daughter’s foot, he returns to the house once more. This time, he speaks with Cinderella’s father who tells them that they only have a maid. A maid! He doesn’t even say it’s his daughter! He just calls her the maid! What a jerk.

Anyway, the prince finds this “maid” and puts on the slipper and he knows it’s the same woman from the ball, so they go to marry. Cinderella wants to be nice though and she asks the stepdaughters to be her maids of honor. On the way over to the ceremony, though, the dove pokes one eye out of each of the daughters heads, turning them partially blind. After the ceremony, the dove plucks out the other eyes, rendering them completely blind. The end.

Here’s my issue with this – well, one issue with this – the dad is still alive and treats his daughter like absolute crap!!! I can understand in the other versions, the parents die, the stepmother never wanted the other girl in the first place so she’s a dick to Cinderella and makes her a servant. But if the dad is still alive surely he’d be nicer to his own daughter (and don’t call me Shirley). Omitting all the other faults in this story: the magic tree, the doves that act as little angels sent from her mom in Heaven, the prince and his stupidity, vanity, and just all around lameness. This one plot snag peeves me off more than anything else.

I did some research and it’s actually speculated that the dad isn’t her biological father. That the daughter was the wife’s child before marriage. Even so, at the point of the mother’s death, Cinderella is still a child which means he had Cinderella since she was a baby, you’d think that would make you feel more like a father to her and not want her to be your servant. You’d think. Granted, I don’t have kids. Maybe parents do want their kids to be servants. I’m pretty sure that’s what my parents wanted.

Alas, that concludes part one of the Cinderella edition of Fairy Tale Fails. Book vs Movie: Cinderella is up next!

Until then! Happy reading!

Rachel

email: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Fairy Tale Fail – Snow White

Hi everyone! Quick note before I begin: I’m still reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness but I have less than one hundred pages left! I’m sorry for the delay in the reviewing process. Nevertheless, here’s another Fairy Tale Fail!!

I don’t know about you guys but I’ve never been a huge fan of the much older Disney movies – not that I don’t like them, because I do. Disney movies are beyond magical! But movies like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are way too damsel-in-distress-like for me. They don’t really have anything that might make them unique or likable. Their stories are mostly about how a man saved them from near-death. I, personally, like my Disney Princesses to have charisma and charm – and their own opinions.

That said, I’ve done some more research and I’m kind of pissed at my findings. The Brother’s Grimm’s fairy tale Snow White was actually much darker than I thought it was originally (yes!), but still kinda weird. And I find Snow White to be even more of an idiot in the movie.

Much of the beginning of the story remains in both the Grimm’s version and the Disney version: a beautiful Queen is sewing one day and pricks her finger. Upon seeing the blood she wishes for a daughter who is as fair as snow, with lips red as blood, and hair black as night (ebony, in the Grimm’s version). When the Queen gets her wish, she names her daughter Snow White. But shortly after she dies of birthing complications. The King marries a new woman who happens to be a witch, both literally and metaphorically.

The Queen has a magic mirror that she talks to and asks “who is the fairest in the land?” with the answer always being “you are the fairest in the land!” But this time, the mirror tells her that she is not the fairest, that Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than she. The Queen gets pissed and sends a huntsmen to kill Snow White, rip out her heart, and bring it back as proof that she’s dead. The huntsmen doesn’t have the heart to do it (see what I did there? heh!) and tells Snow White to run as far away as she can.

This is when the similarities between the two nearly come to a halt. Because as far I know, little woodland creatures don’t usually take to one particular human, befriend that human, and lead that human to a safe-house. No, the Grimm’s version is much more realistic. So we’re gonna do a bit of a compare and contrast at this part because there are very slight but important details that I want to point out.

In the movie, she obviously is led to the dwarves house by friendly animals – isn’t that how everyone finds their home? Who uses Zillow? She then enters the house with a whole bunch of chairs and beds in it, and notices how messy it is. So she tidy’s up their home, and by the end of her cleaning she’s just pooped! Too exhausted to worry if maybe seven tiny, crazy axe-murderers live there, she plops down on three little beds and sleeps. When the dwarves come home from working in the mine, they’re taken aback, but then agree she can live there provided she clean the house, sew, knit, and cook (that last provision is also in the Grimm’s version).

Now the Grimm’s version. First, I’d just like to say that this particular story was published around 1812. This is a time when slavery still exists, when the age of consent for marriage is 10-13 years old, and when the freaken United States is only a 36 year old. THIRTY-SIX! And yet, in the Grimm’s version, Snow has more common sense and resolve than the much newer Disney version. When Snow White runs away from the huntsmen, she finds a tiny house far away from nothing and no one is home. Snow white is hungry, and tired, and sees an opportunity to steal their food, wine, and sleep in their beds before anyone comes home. A regular squatter. She completely messes up their entire home and everything is out of place. When the dwarves come back they’re pissed. But Snow White tells them all about the evil Queen and the huntsmen and they take pity on her, again as long as she can take care of the house (although, I get the feeling that in this version they’re also kind of just mad she messed up their house in the first place, and just want her to clean it up).

So here’s what I learned from that: the 1939 version (postbellum, the age of consent is 16 – as it is today, and the U.S. is 239 years old – women can vote, also) is more sexist than the original that is more than 200 years old! Snow White is the perfect woman in the 1939 version, walking in to a home and seeing a mess and thinking “by golly! I have to clean this up before anyone sees! I know I’m running for my life, but please, let me do the dishes first.” In Grimm’s version Snow is more about being unclean, a slob, and pretty much a hobo stealing their stuff. Not very ladylike, but I like it a damn sight more than the Disney version!

Anyway, the Queen learns she’s alive and in the movie she stops by as an old hag and has Snow White eat part of a poisoned apple that will put her to sleep unless “true love’s kiss” wakens her. The dwarves find out via woodland creatures that the Queen killed her and they chase after the Queen, trapping her, and she eventually falls to her death. The dwarves don’t want to bury her in the ground so instead they put her in a glass coffin above ground (because apparently they didn’t think about decomposition). After a while a prince shows up and falls in love with her, kisses her out of sadness that she’s dead, and she wakes and they live happily ever after.

In the story, it’s a bit different, though still weird that a prince loves a dead person he never met when she was alive, I’ll admit. When the Queen learns of Snow White whole still-alive-thing she comes by the dwarves house and first gives her a bodice that she laces up so tightly that Snow White can’t breathe and faints. The dwarves come home and find her just in time to unlace the bodice. The Queen then comes back with a brush, brushes Snow’s hair and Snow faints again, but the dwarves save the day (again). Lastly, the Queen shows up with a poisoned apple which Snow eats (stupid girl, you’d think she’d have learned her lesson) and chokes on a piece of apple. The Queen goes home and the mirror finally tells her she’s the fairest in the land.

The dwarves can’t figure out what happened to her, so they put her in a glass coffin. Again, after some time, a prince walks by and is enchanted by the dead girl. He convinces the dwarves to let him take the coffin and the girl with him. As his servants take the coffin, they trip over a branch and the apple is dislodged from her throat. The Prince proposes to her and she accepts.

They invite everyone to their wedding, including the Queen. The Queen wasn’t going to go until looking into her mirror, the voice back said that the new Princess is the fairest in the land. So the Queen goes to see this new woman, but Snow know’s it was the Queen all along and punishes her. She is forced to put on straight out of the fire hot iron shoes and dance in the burning shoes until she dies. The end.

So basically, what I’ve learned from all of this is that the men who wrote this back in 1812, were more in favor of women being actual humans with feelings better things to do than clean, than the men in 1939 who orchestrated the movie. I’ve also learned that I wouldn’t want to live in either time, because apparently they’re both filled with evil witches who want to rip peoples hearts out.

That’s all for now. If you want to say hi, or have a fairy tale you want me to talk about let me know in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. Until next time!

Rachel

Fairy Tale Fails – Beauty and the Beast

Well, well well… Looks who’s alive after the move! Me!! We’re loving our new place – but we don’t care for all the boxes we have to throw out. Still, I’m just so glad it’s out of the way and is one less thing to worry about. Now, on to books!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved fairy tales. I can recite every Disney Princess song forwards and backwards and in pig Latin. I love everything about the fantasy world, and ever since I got the Grimm’s Fairytales out of my grandparents bookshelf, I’ve been hooked for life.

But something happened when I read Grimm’s for the first time… I was horrified. The hard truth of the matter is that the fairy tales that have been recited to us thousands of times gloss over some of the most terrifying parts of the famous stories, and a lot of them are written by different authors! It’s like these authors just collectively said, “yeah, the 1700s are a really crappy time. Let’s just make everyone a jerk.”

I’ve always been one for Beauty and the Beast. As someone with brown hair, hazel eyes and a love of books, I’m pretty sure the story was written entirely for me. Sadly, that’s not the case, as it was published in 1756. In the original Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont version (I know, quite the name, right?!) Belle is actually the youngest of three sisters, the elder two are women who love jewels and material items, and who are really just nasty at heart. Their father was once a very wealthy merchant, but has lost all of his money so the four of them are forced to work on a small farm in France for a living.

The promise of wealth comes to him one day and he asks his daughters what they’d like as a present when he comes home. The two daughters ask for clothing and jewelry, while Belle only asks for a rose. The father leaves and gets no wealth or presents, but on his way home he gets lost in the woods and a creature that calls himself “Beast” invites him in to eat and spend the night.

In the morning, the father notices a rose garden and plucks a beautiful rose for Belle. The Beast notices his theft and tells him that he must die for stealing the rose (a little dramatic, Beast). The father comes up with a bargain – he can leave and give Belle the rose, as long as he promises to come back and he promises not to say a thing about the bargain to Belle. Belle, being awesome, gets the news out of her father when he returns home with the rose and decides to take his place instead, heading to the castle. This is really the only correlation between the two stories, and it’s really the best part. So much self-sacrifice! You go, Belle!

When Belle gets to the Beast’s castle he tells her that she is now the mistress of the castle and he is her servant. He begs her to marry him multiple times but she refuses every time. Every night that he proposes, though, she dreams of a really beautiful prince and believes that the Beast has this prince locked up somewhere in the castle, but never finds him. Eventually the Beast lets her leave to visit her family with the condition that she return in a week. She leaves with a ring and a mirror – the mirror allows her to see what is going on at the castle, and the ring allows her to return there instantly.

When she goes home she has every intention of leaving in a week, but her sisters are jealous of her lavish life at the castle and  put on a big show and make her believe that they really miss her and want her to stay – even rubbing onions in their eyes to make it look like they’re crying – while they really hope that the Beast will be angry and kill and eat her. Nice sisters! Belle decides to stay, but feels really guilty about leaving him so she looks in the mirror to see what he’s up to and sees that he’s dying from heartbreak in the rose garden. She uses the ring to go to him immediately and when she cries on him, telling him she loves him, her tears bring him back to life… as the prince in her dreams.

Now, in my opinion this is one of the most tame fairy tales. There’s no mutilation and not everyone dies. But, as this is the first of my new installment of Fairy Tale Fails, I wanted to start with the story that I feel bound to the most. Even without the magic rose, the kooky inventor father, and Gaston (noooo one fights like Gaston! Douses lights like Gaston! In a wrestling match no one bites like Gaston!) I still love this story. It has the same “magic” that Disney stories do and it even ended with a “happily ever after!” I really recommend reading this and seeing for yourself what a difference the two stories have. And can I just say, those sisters are complete assholes.

Until next time! If you have any fairy tales you want me to look up, read and compare to the family-friendly versions we all know, let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Rachel