Friday, 7 October 2016

Strands of Gold and Bronze - a Bluebeard fairy-tale retelling

So I finally finished reading this beguiling re-telling of the thrilling Bluebeard fairy-tale. One of the creepier fairy-tales of the brothers Grimm.

Here is a glimpse of the basic orginal story plot from Wikipedia:"Bluebeard (French: Barbe bleue) is a French folktale, the most famous surviving version of which was written by Charles Perrault (...) The tale tells the story of a violent nobleman in the habit of murdering his wives and the attempts of one wife to avoid the fate of her predecessors."

Bluebeard was a terrifying story, for me, as a child. I promised myself to never be so curious as to go against direct orders from my husband, as a precaution. - Not sure I've lived up to that, but then again my husband hasn't exactly forbid me to enter any of the rooms in our house. I never found there to be much substance to the story, myself. - Old rich man marries young poor girl, finally gives her keys to the entire house and forbids her to enter one of the rooms in the house. Goes on a business trip. She unlocks the room. The lock had a paint in it that stained the key blood-red so when she hands them back to him he knows she entered the forbidden room. Tries to kill her, but her brothers, and is saved.

I wasn't sure how that could be extended into a long novel.  Or was the Bluebeard tale merely an inspiration for this novel?  I kept thinking perhaps this was a very different type of story line. 

I must confess I have nursed this novel partly, because it's a slow read, partly because of my schedule, and partly because I really didn't want it to end - I was thoroughly enjoying the ride. There have been many reviews of this book on Good Reads, at varying ends of the spectrum. I can understand both sides. But at the end of the day, I must confess, I rather enjoyed it.

Bubble baths and this book became a wonderful pass-time I would treat myself to now, and again. There are many reviews, from others, on how the plot drags on as one seems to get lost in this late 18th century portrait of a beautiful young girl who is getting wined, dined, and spoiled by her deadly handsome Godfather. - Another aspect of this re-telling that didn't seem to jive with the fairy-tale as Bluebeard was more often then not described as old, hard and cold.- The picture painted of her Godfather was sinfully delicious. He was charming, seductive, wild, fashionable, intelligent, and generous. I came to hope that he didn't turn out to be a villein after all, that this would be an ironic telling of how villainized this innocent man was with a blue-ish tint to his beard. I liked him. I wanted to have dinner with this guy. I wanted to get dresses and jewels, and a french-maid from this guy. Imagining the movie potential of this story, Pierce Bronson or someone of his genteelness yet perhaps more obscure and French would be perfect.

Yes, the drawn out details of the South, and the dresses could take it's toll on someone reading to get to a point or while on a bus or a lunch break... but I will argue, while in a nice hot bubble bath with candles, perhaps even a glass of wine or lemonade to get in the spirit of things, it was just right. It wasn't like reading for me, it was about escaping to a Southern rose-scented summer with violet perfumes, orange blossom cakes, grand halls, silk sheets, ribbons and lace. I had no purpose, I was just enjoying my leisure walk through the gardens.

There is also the other aspect, slavery that gets hinted at, lending itself to the darker tones this novel starts to develop. More here could be mentioned, and stronger character development could be made, but at the same time there is a distance that is period appropriate.

All and all... I had a good time reading this book.

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