Friday, 3 September 2010

Friday is for Fairytales: On Lickerish Hill

Friday is for Fairytales is a meme hosted by Irena (me) at This Miss loves to Read. Every Friday, you can choose a fairytale you love, or simply find interesting or haunting, and review it or simply say why you like it so much, or why it has captured your attention. Instead of a fairytale, you can choose a favourite fairytale character and describe him/her and tell us why you like them, or you can simply share an experience connected to a fairytale. Fairytales can be old and modern, written by a known author or anonymous, written down or passed on orally, short or in novel form (like re-writings of fairytales), international or typical for your country alone. In this case, present your country’s fairytale and we can all become acquainted with a new fairytale. So, make a post every Friday that is connected to the world of fairytales, be it a review, a character description or your own fairytale experience. Let’s celebrate fairytales and share our love for them.

My post today is about: “On Lickerish Hill” by Susanna Clarke

“On Lickerish Hill” is a short story from Susanna Clarke’s collection of short stories entitled The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories. It is a retelling of Rumplestiltskin and is very cleverly written. Clarke re-wrote the famous tale by the brothers Grimm like this.

The story takes place in 17th century Suffolk, England, and is told from the point of view of a young bride, Miranda Sowreston. She has to resort to magic to spin enough flax to satisfy her husband’s demands, while in the original, a miller’s daughter has to spin straw into gold to appease the king of her country. Like in the original, Miranda is visited by a strange, dwarf-like creature. He helps her complete her task, but for payment, she must guess his name or there will be consequences. Eventually, she guesses his name, with the help of the creature himself, because she hears him sing his name without him knowing about it.

This re-telling is a truly delightful read. It follows the original plot faithfully, but it is told in a different way, with the character of Miranda nicely lined out. What I truly loved about this re-telling was the atmosphere of 17th century authenticity. The language is archaic, and so is the spelling. However, it tackled more modern themes that perhaps women of that time did not think about much, or they kept quiet about it: namely, a woman’s subordination to her husband that resembles slavery, that is one of them. So, this is a fairy-tale with an archaic setting and modern themes, but it is so deftly written that you only begin to think about these modern themes after you’ve finished reading the tale.

I would like to recommend this collection of short stories as a whole. They combine elements of fairy-tales, featuring elements of Arthurian legends, real people from history (Mary Queen of Scots), Neil Gaiman’s world, characters resembling the Bennets from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and so on. It is a great collection.

What did YOU choose to write about this Friday?


Aimee said...

I just read the ladies of grace adieu recently, and i have to say On Lickrish Hill was my favourite out of the collection, although I enjoyed them all.

Here is my review if youd like to read it:

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I've never read this but I really like the idea of giving the girl in Rumpelstiltskin a name for one thing but also exploring what I would call feminist themes. It sounds lovely. I read Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and really liked it so I want to read this too.

Blodeuedd said...

I wish she would write more cos she is so talented and write such strange stories.

And oh Rumpelstilskin you fool, lol

Unknown said...

Cool! I have Susannah Clarke's Ladies of Grace Adieu. I haven't even opened the front cover. I bought it because I loved JS&MN. Looking forward to dipping into it now.