Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review // An Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye

Livia, Jenelle, and Jessica all three recommended this to me before the Cinderella Week so, of course, I promptly had to place a hold for it on interlibrary loan. And I’m so happy I did! A children’s short chapter book, I read it in one afternoon last week and, honestly, I haven’t laughed over a book this much in a Very Long Time.

In tone and content it reminds me a lot of Howard Pyle’s Wonder Clock and also A.A. Milne’s Ugly Duckling play (which you can read in full here). Thoroughly charming and evocative, the pictures are also reminiscent of Pyle. Sadly, I don’t think the copy I read (the same as pictured) had all the original illustrations, but the ones it did have were delightful! 

Now for my initial major concern before reading it. *coughs* In short I love ‘beautiful princess’ stories, so I thought it might tend toward being one of those overtly ‘moralistic’ tales (I’ve run across a number of those over the years and -- no offense, intended -- they’re really just not my thing), but as it turns out, in this case I needn’t have worried in the slightest. The stereotypically beautiful princesses are portrayed as being more ‘boring’ than otherwise, but they’re still good and true, etc., while the ordinary princess herself has a good spice of naughtiness and impish mischief. So it’s definitely not a categorical dissertation on/forced contrast between inner and outer beauty.


I wouldn’t strictly call it a Cinderella retelling, but there are some definite Cinderella-ish threads -- particularly the princess having animal friends, taking a job for a while as a kitchen maid, sleeping in an attic, etc., and (later) the stressed importance of the prince/king choosing a wife. I think the scriptwriters and directors of the 2015 film most certainly read/studied it, making some stunning, ever-so-much-more-so bows to it in places, especially with the running inclusion of the Lavender’s Blue ballad, the strong presence of the forest, the whole equation of mistaken identities, the princess ultimately marrying a king, and so on. 


Here’s a fun little excerpt from the very beginning to give you an idea of the style (and note, the ‘king’ here is her father):

“I can only repeat,” said the King stubbornly, “that to invite fairies to a christening is asking for trouble. And getting it,” he added gloomily. “Speaking for myself,” said the King, “I’d far rather ask several man-eating tigers. You may have forgotten what happened to my great-great-great-grandmother, but I have not. Had to sleep for a hundred years, poor girl, and the entire court with her, and all because of some silly fairy-business at the christening.”


“But Your Majesty forgets,” put in the Prime Minister, “that the unfortunate episode you refer to was due to gross neglect and carelessness. History tells us that an influential fairy was not invited. But on this occasion I, personally, will take the greatest possible care that no such calamity occurs again.” And the Prime Minister tried to look very uncareless indeed.


“The Lord High Chamberlain hastened to add that no single member of King Oberon’s court would be omitted from the list of guests: “And we must not forget,” he pointed out, “that as Her Majesty has said, these—er—persons have it in their power to bestow the most valuable of gifts. For your daughter’s sake—” urged the Lord High Chamberlain.


“Oh, all right, all right,” said the King peevishly. “Don’t let’s go over all that again. But you mark my words,” he said, “I’d much rather have a nice silver-plated christening mug from a nice solid baron than some chancy thing like Unfading Beauty from a tricky creature with wings and a wand! Besides,” said the King, “who’s to tell that some tiresome fairy won’t get out of the wrong side of her bed that day and give my daughter Perpetual Bad Temper instead? Answer me that!”


~     ~     ~

So yes, altogether sweet and fun, this is one I’d love to reread and eventually add to my collection!

Tell me! Have you read An Ordinary Princess and what did you think? 


31 comments:

  1. Oh my, it sounds darling! I just put it on hold at the library and can hardly wait to read it.

    Have you ever read The Light Princess by George MacDonald? I admit that it does have some allegorical tendencies to it, but it's also a fairly fun and entertaining read. MacDonald always manages to make me laugh with his children's literature. I read it in 2014 for a challenge, and HERE'S my review if you're interested. ❤

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carissa,
      Yay, I'm so glad you'll be able to read it!! :)

      And I have read The Light Princess! One of my closest friends absolutely loves it and printed the whole thing out and sent it to me about a year ago. And you're right, it's quite charming and that ending scene in the lake bed is amazing. :D Also, thanks for the link -- your review was great!

      Delete
  2. Oh it looks lovely! The illustrations are beautiful and I loved the quotes from the book. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Faith,
      It is! And I'm so glad you enjoyed the quotes. ;D

      Delete
  3. I never heard of this. I'm going to see if my library system carries a copy right now. I have a few princesses that would love to read this. : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ruth,
      I do hope you're able to find a copy soon and that your princesses enjoy it! :)

      Delete
  4. Library system loans are such a blessing! I love taking advantage of that great access to so many books. This one sounds cute; I'll add it to my ever-growing to-read list! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Abby P.
      YES, they're such a huge blessing, aren't they?!? :) And splendid!

      Delete
  5. I know I read this years ago but I can scarcely recall it. I think though I need to re-read it. It looks so delightful. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lois,
      It's definitely delightful and also a nice, quick read. :) I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

      Delete
  6. Oh, Heidi, I'm so happy to hear you liked it!!! It was one of my favorite books as a little girl, and I really, really enjoyed your review of it! :-) (I need to re-read this book myself at some point, actually . . . )

    Yes--I'm also glad that the author chose to handle the whole "beauty" thing the way she did. She didn't try to say "outward beauty is a bad thing"; her message, I think, was more that the people whom we overlook as "plain" or "ordinary" ARE actually quite beautiful in their own way (like the Ordinary Princess). And I love that :-)

    Ohhhhh, yes, the illustrations are darling! One of my favorite things about the book, actually :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. jessica,
      Yay, I'm soo glad you enjoyed it!!! (I was hoping you would. ;D)

      And exactly. . . Yes, she did a great job handling all that.

      The illustrations are so sweet! I'm hoping to find a copy that includes all of them sometime. :)

      Delete
  7. I read it several years back. So far back I think I still had a Sony ereader instead of a Kindle. :)

    It was a good, cute book. I need to reread it here sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. George,
      That's funny! And yes, it'll definitely be landing on my eventual reread list, too. :)

      Delete
  8. This is one of my childhood favorites! Such a fun book. Though I've read it many a time I never noticed the the similarities to the 2015 Cinderella! That is so cool!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awdur,
      Oh, lovely!! And yes, isn't that all just fascinating?!? :D

      Delete
  9. I love this book so much and I'm always overjoyed to find that other people enjoy it too! I think I've read it at least 3 times now, and it's one of my favorite fantasy books. I think every girl should read it atleast once in her life. (-:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth Anne,
      Yay!!! :) And yes, I agree most heartily -- it's so darling! ;)

      Delete
  10. I've never read this, but I obviously need to. And I think Sam would love it too, so I MUST see if the library has it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think he would really love it--and probably your daughters, too, when they're old enough. It's adorable and hilarious and exciting and cute :-)

      Delete
    2. Hamlette,
      Hee. Yes you do!! ;D And (with its gentle pace and medieval setting) I think Sam would probably definitely love it. It has some fun "invented" words, so might make a great read-aloud, too, if he's still learning to sound things out. Does your library have it?

      Delete
  11. What a darling review! I have LOVED LOVED LOVED this book ever since I don't know when - first I fell in love with the drawings, and then I was very intrigued by the style of writing and the author's story in the front about how she came to write it. I think this was the first book that actually got me thinking, "Hmmm, maybe it is possible for me to write a book, too!" :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rosie,
      I'm so very glad you enjoyed it and thank you so much, dear!! :) Yes, words and illustrations just meld together/illuminate each other incredibly. . . and how wonderful that it inspired your writing! Those stories always hold such a special, irreplaceable spot, don't they? :)

      Delete
  12. Great review, and oh, it has the most darling illustrations!

    Ava
    Great review

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ava,
      Thank you! Aren't they charming? And thanks so much for visiting and commenting!

      Delete
  13. I'm so glad you liked the book! I also liked your review with all of the picture. :-)

    I have given the book so several young tween girls as a gift, and they have all love the book. I think it's so interesting and fun how a fairy tale (or a sweet book like this one) connects girls of all ages, both young and old.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ekaterina,
      I'm so glad you love it, too!! And ohh, how perfectly lovely. . . Isn't that one of the marvelous splendors of having story loving friends? :)

      Delete
  14. I have to say that although I've never heard of this book, I wasn't really intrigued until I read that snippet. It is SO cute and clever! Now I think I need to give this a try. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natalie,
      *laughing* I'm glad I got you intrigued! ;) I know, isn't it just delightful? I hope you can find it sometime soon!!

      Delete
  15. Oh, yay! I'm glad you enjoyed it! That is one of my all-time favorite books :)

    I hadn't really put together that this might be where they were drawing from a bit for the 2015 Cinderella, that's cool... I'm going to pretend they did read The Ordinary Princess and that it influenced them and that will just make me happy. I have re-watched the movie in a less chaotic/hectic setting since taking the girls to see it in the theater and I did enjoy it way more the second time.

    Eep. I have to go re-read this one right now... it's been far too long!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenelle,
      I did very much and thank you for recommending it! :)

      Hee. Yes, isn't that fascinating?!? And I'm so happy you enjoyed it more the second time! I actually had a somewhat similar experience -- i.e. I loved it the first time I saw it (and absolutely couldn't wait for it to come out on dvd), but then from the second time on that was just 'it' and there was no going back. ;)

      Delete

Oh, you're thinking of leaving a comment! How entirely lovely -- thank you and please do!! :) I just ask that all comments be God-honoring and edifying. (And btw, I LOVE comments on old posts! ;))

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...