Melody
ISBN-13: 9780765342300
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Published: March 2002
241pp

Quoted from the Introduction of this novel by Terry Windling:

"Briar Rose" is another name for the old story "Sleeping Beauty", which is one of the best known ane best loved fairy tales in the western world. No one knows precisely how old it is, for we have no written record of when oral storytellers first began to tell the tale - but we do know that our sleeping princess is at very least several centuries old."


I am sure most of us have heard of "Sleeping Beauty". This is one of my favourite stories during my childhood days, along with many others. This novel is a re-telling version written by Jane Yolen in a bittersweet way. Fantasy aside, there is also a modern setting to this story which makes everything seems more real to the readers.

Rebecca Berlin has been enchanted by her grandmother, Gemma's stories since she was a child. Gemma would tell them nothing but the story of Briar Rose, one which Rebecca would never get tired of hearing it. But, Gemma is getting old and weak and before she passed away, she wanted Rebecca to promise her that she will help her to find the castle, the prince and the maker of the spells. She was also Briar Rose, the princess.

Rebecca is determined to uncover the truth but her two other sisters, Sylvia and Shana, think she is insane to take Gemma's words seriously. She later finds Gemma's wooden box which contains some old photographs and clippings and she began to take the lead from there. No one knew about Gemma's past and why she is hiding away the box, not even Rebecca's mother and this makes Rebecca more determined to find the truth.

Before making her trip to Poland and on her father's suggestion, she contacted the Polish Jewish program for a translator. Magda Bronski, a student is recommended and soon, with her assistance for their journey, Rebecca will discover the shocking fact about Chelmno, the place where hundreds thousands of people were being killed during the war and how an encounter with a Mr. Josef Potocki will unlock the mystery surrounding her grandmother and her secret past.

Although I love the story, it is not really an easy read due to the context of the Holocaust. It is a dark modern fairy tale but it has mesmerized me. Jane Yolen's writing style is just marvelous. The way she put Gemma's story in alternate chapters throughout the book works perfectly. Like Rebecca, I too find myself very intrigued with her version and was anxious to know what happened and whether or not Gemma was the real Briar Rose as she had claimed. This is a powerful and moving novel which I would highly recommend to anyone.


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10 Responses
  1. Alice Teh Says:

    I would definitely add this to my reading list. Thanks for the review, Melody. :)


  2. Nymeth Says:

    Beautiful review, Melody! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one :)


  3. Stephanie Says:

    Very Nice review! Since I just finished Enchantment, another Sleeping Beauty re-tell, I probably won't try this one soon. But it is certainly going on my Wish List!


  4. Melody Says:

    Alice - Great! I can't wait to hear what you think after you've read it. :)

    Nymeth - Thanks! I really enjoyed reading this book. It's so beautifully written. :)

    Stephanie - Thank you! I've got to check out Enchantment. I love fairy tales! ;)


  5. Julia Says:

    Sound like a good book - nice review!


  6. Rhinoa Says:

    I'm glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. It's not an easy book but is definitely a very important read.


  7. Melody Says:

    Julia - It's a great book! :)

    Rhinoa - I think so too. :)


  8. Debi Says:

    What a wonderful review, Melody! I really do need to read this one day soon!


  9. Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite stories too. My dad took me to the ballet one year--my first--and, oh, how I loved it!

    Back to the topic at hand - this does sound like an intriguing modern retelling of the classic story. The Holocaust angle is quite different, isn't it? I will have to look for this one. Great review, Melody!


  10. Melody Says:

    Debi - I'm hoping you'll read this soon. It's a great read. :)

    Wendy - How exciting to be able to watch the ballet! I wish I've that chance! I really enjoyed this story, and I'm hoping you'll enjoy it as much as I do too. :)