Mirror Mirror: A Novel

Mirror Mirror: A Novel

by Gregory Maguire

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Overview

“A brilliant achievement.”

Boston Herald

 

“Entertaining…profound….A novel for adults that unearths our buried fascination with the primal fears and truths fairy tales contain.”
Christian Science Monitor

 

Gregory Maguire, the acclaimed author who re-imagined a darker, more dangerous Land of Oz in his New York Times bestselling series The Wicked Years, offers a brilliant reinvention of the timeless Snow White fairy tale: Mirror Mirror. Setting his story amid the cultural, political and artistic whirlwind of Renaissance Italy—and casting the notorious Lucrezia Borgia as the Evil Queen—Maguire and Mirror Mirror will enthrall a wide array of book lovers ranging from adult fans of Harry Potter to readers of the sophisticated stories of Angela Carter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060988654
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/28/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 151,535
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Hometown:

Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

June 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Albany, New York

Education:

B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990

Read an Excerpt

Mirror Mirror
A Novel

The roofs of Montefiore

From the arable river lands to the south, the approach to Montefiore appears a sequence of relaxed hills. In the late spring, when the puckers of red poppy blossom are scattered against the green of the season, it can look like so much washing, like mounds of Persian silk and Florentine brocade lightly tossed in heaps. Each successive rise takes on a new color, indefinably more fervent, an aspect of distance and time stained by the shadows of clouds, or bleached when the sun takes a certain position.

But the traveler on foot or in a hobble-wheeled peasant cart, or even on horseback, learns the truth of the terrain. The ascent is steeper than it looks from below. And the rutted track traverses in long switchbacks to accommodate for the severity of the grade and the cross cutting ravines. So the trip takes many more hours than the view suggests. The red-tiled roofs of Montefiore come into sight, promisingly, and then they disappear again as hills loom up and forests close in.

Often I have traveled the road to Montefiore in memory. Today I travel it in true time, true dust, true air. When the track lends me height enough, I can glimpse the villa's red roofs above the ranks of poplars, across the intervening valleys. But I can't tell if the house is peopled with my friends and my family, or with rogues who have murdered the servants in their beds. I can't tell if the walls below the roofline are scorched with smoke, or if the doors are marked with an ashy cross to suggest that plague has come to gnaw the living into their mortal rest, their last gritty blanket shoveled over their heads.

But I have come out of one death, the one whose walls were glass; I have awakened into a second life dearer for being both unpromised and undeserved. Anyone who walks from her own grave relies on the unexpected. Anyone who walks from her own grave knows that death is more patient than Gesù Cristo. Death can afford to wait.

But now the track turns again, and my view momentarily spins back along the slopes I've climbed so far. My eye traces the foothills already gained, considers the alphabet of light that spells its unreadable words on the surface of the river. My eye also moves along the past, to my early misapprehensions committed to memory on this isolated outcropping.

The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.

Rest. Breathe in, breathe out. No one can harm you further than death could do. When rested, you must go on; you must find out the truth about Montefiore. Granted a second life, you must find in it more meaning than you could ever determine in your first.

The name of the world

The world was called Montefiore, as far as she knew, and from her aerie on every side all the world descended.

Like any child, she looked out and across rather than in. She was more familiar with the vistas, the promising valleys with their hidden hamlets, the scope of the future arranged in terms of hills and light.

Once a small dragon had become trapped in the bird-snaring nets slung in the uccellare. Bianca watched as the cook's adolescent grandson tried to cut it down and release it. Her eyes were fixed on the creature, the stray impossibility of it, not on the spinney in which it was caught. How it twitched, its webbed claws a pearly chalcedony, its eyes frantic and unblinking. (Despite the boy's efforts, it died, and his grandmother flayed it for skin with which to patch the kitchen bellows.)

Bianca regarded visitors to Montefiore with fierce attention: emissaries of the world. But the bones of her home -- the house itself -- remained as familiar and unregarded as her own fingernails.

Montefiore was larger than a farmer's villa but not so imposing as a castle. Too far from anywhere important to serve as a casale -- a country house -- it crowned an upthrust shoulder of land, so its fortifications were natural. On all sides, the steepness of the slope was a deterrent to invaders, and anyway, Montefiore wasn't large enough to interest the condottieri who led their small armies along the riverbank on one campaign or another.

Had Bianca an adult eye, she might have guessed from its mismatched roofs and inconsistent architectural details that many owners had lived here before her family arrived, shaping the space with a disregard for symmetry or loveliness. When its masters had had money, they'd made attempts to drill a little grandeur into the old stone hull, like crisp starched lace tied under the wet chins of a drooling nonna. A recently completed interior courtyard, handsomely done with columns and vaults in the revived archaic style, provided relief from the roaring breeze.

Except for the courtyard, though, most attempts at improvement had been abandoned in mideffort. Some windows were fitted with glass, but in most windows, squares of linen had been nailed to the shutter moldings, pale light conferring a sense of height and volume to the dark rooms. Along one retaining wall, a loggia ran unevenly, its walls inset with terrazzo putti whose faces had become bubonic with the remains of insect cocoons. For half a century the chapel had stood with a roof beam and naked struts, the old cladding and tiles having been swept away in an arrogant gale. When the January tramontana blustered in, the geese sometimes sheltered there from the wind, though they seldom took communion.

Fortunately too inaccessible to garrison an army, Montefiore was nonetheless valuable as a lookout. From time to time in its history it had been commandeered for its prospects. On a clear day one imagined one could glimpse the sea.

What child does not feel itself perched at the center of creation?

Mirror Mirror
A Novel
. Copyright © by Gregory Maguire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

The roofs of Montefiore1
1502
The name of the world5
Lago Verde9
What they told her, what she saw15
Don't leave, don't follow21
A pack of dirty thieves27
Trouble and his sister29
I am a girl who did no wrong32
Cesare33
Lucrezia35
I am a woman who slept with my father the Pope37
What I saw then39
I am a rock whose hands have appetites41
A moment ago43
A stroll in the country45
Under the twists of thornbank51
What lies in the mirror53
Prince Dschem's secret55
The three eyes of God65
The vision in San Francesco71
1506
Bianca awake81
Shades of rock97
I am a gooseboy or am I a goose104
Mirrormirror105
I am a hunter who cannot kill111
Bring me her heart carved from her chest113
Interview with an assassin123
A walk in the woods125
The heart of the woods131
I am a rock and my brothers are rocks137
Seven139
1512
The dwarves147
A hole in the world157
The beast in the wall163
Al-iksir171
Vicente177
Mirror mirror187
The return of the prodigal191
Beware beware199
The figure in the clearing205
Interviews211
An ivory comb, my dear217
I am a girl who did little wrong225
She wakes once more227
A bodice, my darling231
Two bites from the Apple235
The oval window245
I am a woman who killed for love249
Reflections251
Vigil255
1519
Thais259
Fire and ivy265
The heart of the matter271
Montefiore275
Note277
Acknowledgments279

Reading Group Guide

Introduction

In Mirror Mirror Snow White is called Bianca de Nevada. She is born on a farm in Tuscany in 1495, and when she is seven, her father is ordered by the duplicitous Cesare Borgia to go on a quest to reclaim the relic of the original Tree of Knowledge, a branch bearing three living apples that are thousands of years old. Bianca is left in the care of her father's farm staff and the beautiful -- and madly vain -- Lucrecia Borgia, Cesare's sister. But Lucrecia becomes jealous of her lecherous brother's interest in the growing child and plots a dire fate for Bianca in the woods below the farm. There Bianca finds herself in the home of seven dwarves -- the creators of the magic mirror -- who await the return of their brother, the eighth dwarf, long gone on a quest of his own.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Maguire has said he doesn't want to be known as the writer who retells children's stories for adults. Is Mirror Mirror a retelling of the story of Snow White, or is it something else? Something more than a fairy tale? Something less?

  2. The version of Snow White that we are most familiar with is from the collection of the Brothers Grimm. Countless picture books as well as film and theater adaptations set the book where the story itself was collected: in the shadowy woods of Bavaria, Germany. There is a northern cast to the telling even in the title: Snow is less familiar in the Mediterranean than in the Black Forrest. What undertones arise when telling the story in a northern clime that are absent in a Mediterranean setting? How does the story change by being set on sunny Tuscan slopes rather than in the aromatic pinesforests of the Alps?

  3. An airy tale exists in a kind of "nevertime." The famous "Once upon a time" beginning of the old tales generally signals a setting vaguely medieval, freed from cultural or historic details that would pin the story down to a specific century. To paraphrase writer and critic Jane Langton, a fairy tale happens in an amorphous period some time between the fall of Constantinople and the invention of the internal combustion engine. We expect wishing wells, swords, goblets, maybe even battering rams and spinning wheels; we don't expect spectacles, wheelchairs, a postal service. What does it do to an old tale to slap it into a particular set of decades -- in the instance of Mirror Mirror, the first three decades of the sixteenth century? Is that story at home here?

  4. Mirror Mirror, more than any other novel of Maguire's, features figures from history. Lucrezia Borgia and her bother Cesare Borgia, the model for Machiavelli's The Prince, have central roles. (Think how the traditional prince who wakes Snow White with a kiss differs from Machiavelli's The Prince!) Pope Alexander VI, his courtesan la Cattanei, the scientist Paraclesus, the poet and typeface designer Pietro Bembo are referred to in passing. (Maguire has mentioned that a temptation he found very difficult to resist was to find roles for the young Michelangelo, the older da Vinci -- so many famous figures of the High Renaissance were thriving in these decades.) Is the inclusion of actual figures in a tale of fancy in any way dismissive of their place in history? Does it strengthen the story?

  5. In Disney's Snow White, the dwarves are named. This was a daring move, for in a fairy tale, creatures like dwarves, woodland animals, crones in the wood, and so on, are meant to perform a universal function, to stand in, like a Greek chorus, for the rest of the world. To name the dwarves is to confer individuality upon them and to threaten to muddy the focus of the story. How does Maguire play with this stress in his naming the dwarves in Mirror Mirror?

  6. Maguire was planning to begin the first draft of Mirror Mirror just after his kids began the school year in September 2001. He was still making notes on September 11, 2001. Writing seemed futile and self-absorbed in those nightmarish weeks. Can you see why the first lines Maguire could bring himself to write of Mirror Mirror were the four lines on page 32
    I am a girl who did no wrong.
    I walked this side of Gesù when I could.
    I kept an angel in my apron poacket.
    I do not think it did me any good.

  7. In a sense, the original story of Snow White is a story of maturation, of evolution. How do each of the characters evolve in Mirror Mirror?

  8. In terms of symbolic weight, the apple in the Snow White tale -- the poisoned apple -- is likened to the apples from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. How farfetched is this association? Does it work?

  9. In her monologue in the chapter called "Mirror Mirror" (page 187), Lucrezia Borgia muses: "Out of out need we patronize our artists, we flirt with our poets, we petition our architects: Give us your lusty colorful world. Signal to us a state of being more richly steeped in purpose and satisfaction than our own" Of course her life of wealth, power, and comfort proves relatively unsatisfactory. She is always hungry for more. Perhaps it is the storyteller and the novelist who provide their "lusty colorful world" to nurture us, distract us, console us. The philosopher Roger Scruton said, "The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation." Is this true of Mirror Mirror? If there is consolation to be had in his novel, what is its character?

  10. For an alternate version of a Snow White tale by Gregory Maguire, take a look at the short story called "The Seven Stage Comeback" in A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, published by Simon and Schuster. For another alternate version check out "So What and the Seven giraffes," included in Maguires collection called Leaping Beauty and Other Animal Fairy Tales, published by HarperCollins children's division. What is it about fairy tales that they can survive multiples retellings, even by the same author? Perhaps not only survive retellings, but thrive on them?

  11. Who is the fairest one of all?

About the author

Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University. His work as a consultant in creative writing for children takes him to speaking engagements across the United States and abroad. He is a founder and codirector of Children's Literature New England, Incorporated, a non-profit educational charity established in 1987. The author of numerous books for children, Mr. Maguire is also a contributor to Am I Blue?: Coming Out From the Silence, a collection of short stories for gay and lesbian teenagers.

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Mirror Mirror 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 176 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Maguire has done another outstanding job with an old classic. This is truly another way to look at fairy tales, and one that will make you think. Well done!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not enjoy <i>Mirror, Mirror</i>, which was a book club suggestion rather than a personal choice. I had read <i>Wicked</i> and not liked it much- the writing style seemed oddly impersonal and the tone did not work for me. McGuire seemed to be going for a balance between the cold pragmatism and cynicism of the Wicked Witch and the delightful, magical feel we associate with the Land of Oz. Despite liking the musical, the book left me cold. Because of that I was not looking forward to reading another book by the same author. In a retelling of a well-known story the author must be extremely strong on points such characterization in order to compensate for the lack of surprises in the plot. In <i>Mirror, Mirror</i> McGuire tried to achieve this by mixing the Snow White story with the mythologized history of the Borgia family. An interesting concept, but ultimately too similar to <i>Wicked</i> in its faults. The characters seemed to be flimsy and one dimensional. Despite the apparent purposefulness of this choice with regard to the dwarfs, it felt like sloppy writing. The details of Lucrezia's possible incestuous relationship with her brother felt like salacious gossip rather than useful addition to the plot. The ending was also disappointing. The worst part of Snow White is that she runs off with her prince despite hardly knowing him- and even worse, the reader doesn't know him either. <i>Mirror, Mirror</i> repeats this, despite having the opportunity to introduce a prince of an entirely different nature or a relationship that comes out differently from our princess and her prince in Disney and Grimm's. Basically, if you liked <i>Wicked,</i> you might like this. I'd call it a toss up. If you love Snow White stories, go for it. If you didn't like <i>Wicked</i> or haven't read anything by McGuire, I wouldn't bother. You're not missing much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Save your money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how Gregory Maguire takes classic tales and creates a new twist on them. Really enjoyed reading this book.
Lizbiz5396 More than 1 year ago
I stopped reading this I thought it was so bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was well written but not as interesting to me as the wicked series.
Alexia25 More than 1 year ago
My niece and I both read this book since we've enjoyed some of Gregory Maguire's other works. We both found it harder to stay interested in this book. It has a very slow beginning. My niece didn't even finish it, and she loves to read.
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
Deffinately not Maguires best. The plot was nonexistant, the characters compltely drab, and the scenarios were somewhat disgusting. It was an utter peice of crap, but a peice of crap written beautifully.
BoundTogetherForGood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an awful book. I know many people just love Maguire's works. I guess I am not one. He writes in such a fashion that I feel he attempts a loftiness that isn't even legitimate. There are times when I reread a sentence that he has written and struggle with calling it a sentence even.This is the fourth book of his that I have read. I am not finding that I like his work more; rather I like it less. I suppose this proves that the way he writes just does not suit me.This particular title, though, was just awful. Te dwarves were not real, rather, they were something like animated stones that then became sort-of-real. What's up with that? I found it odd and awkward to try to figure out what he was attempting with that concept. At the end of the book it just ended. There really seemed to be no plot at all; just a long drawn-out story-line. It was really quite dissatisfying.
BellaFoxx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gregory Maguire has taken the story of Snow White and transplanted it into 16th century Italy. He has changed her name to Bianca de Nevada and made her the daughter of Don Vicente, an expatriate Spanish widower, the roll of the evil queen is played by Lucrezia Borgia, who is lovely and vain. Her brother (and sometimes lover) Cesare sends Don Vicente on a quest, Bianca is left in the care of Lucrezia.Have you noticed in fairy tales, the good mother dies and the loving father remarries a witch? Then the father is oblivious that his child is being mistreated by her step-mother? For that reason I was glad of how this fairy tale was rewritten. In this account, the father is forced to leave his child in the care of someone he does not trust, from afar he makes an effort to protect his daughter, upon his return he learns he was not successful and goes in search of her. The history of the Borgia¿s is both borrowed from and twisted into the mold of the fairy tale, all the elements of the fairy tale are there, the magic mirror, the dwarves, the hunter with the task of killing the beautiful young girl (perceived to be a threat by the evil step- ), and a poisoned apple.The book jumps around some, not being familiar with Gregory Maguire¿s work, I had trouble following it, especially with the very short chapters and changes in narrators. There are still some things I didn¿t quite understand, however, I still enjoyed reading this. I¿m also not familiar with the history of the Borgia¿s and am now interested in reading about them.This was a diversion from all my books on serial killers and sexual sadists. It was a rather quick read and readers who enjoy fantasy would probably enjoy it.
CheriePie69 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago

The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. But one day a noble entourage makes its way up the winding slopes to the farm -- and the world comes to Montefiore.

In the presence of Cesare Borgia and his sister, the lovely and vain Lucrezia -- decadent children of a wicked pope -- no one can claim innocence for very long. When Borgia sends Don Vicente on a years-long quest, he leaves Bianca under the care -- so to speak -- of Lucrezia.

She plots a dire fate for the young girl in the woods below the farm, but in the dark forest salvation can be found as well ...

A lyrical work of stunning creative vision, Mirror Mirror gives fresh life to the classic story of Snow White -- and has a truth and beauty all its own.

I had a difficult time making it through this one. The pace was pretty slow all the way through, and the dialog and phrasing would often set my mind to wandering so next thing I knew, I wasn't even comprehending what I was reading. That's usually a strong indicator that I'm pretty bored, which sadly I have to say that I was throughout most of this book. :( I decided to plod through anyway. Perhaps it was because I enjoyed Wicked so much--both the book and the theater production--that I thought Mirror Mirror would eventually get there too, but alas it did not, and I was left feeling that my time could've been better spend with my nose in the next Sookie book which has been lying in wait on my night stand. :)

The reason I'm not giving this book a lesser rating is that even though I didn't enjoy it, I still felt that the author himself is a good writer. I didn't find myself criticizing the story itself as I was reading as I do with other books with really bad writing. So just because this book wasn't my cup of tea, and I'm sure others will agree that it's a bit slow-paced, there may be others who enjoy it a lot more than I too.

lizzybeans11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another interesting retelling of a fairytale by Gregory Maguire. This story follows the general plot of Snow White but it is incredibly dark, gritty and set more in reality than magic. Maguire uses elements, and some characters, from the story of the Borgia family (a real-life Italian family). Their story is very glamourous and debauched (which is the general impression of the entire retelling I was left with).I still have trouble following some of Maguire's three-word plot jumps that he tacks on to ends of sentences or buries in the middle of paragraphs, but I guess that's just his style. Also the interpretation of the ending was very strange. I wasn't left feeling like I knew what had happened.
EssFair on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Snow White set in 16th century Italy with the wicked stepmother played by Lucretia Borgia. Book contains an interesting mix of magic and history..
sharonlflynn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book quickly - I had a bit of time while travelling by train - and I really enjoyed it. Even more so than Wicked and Son of a Witch.I thought it was brilliantly placed in Renaissance Italy and I love the weavings of the historical references. Lucrezia Borgia was perfectly cast as the wicked stepmother - she exudes evil and corruption, along with her vile brother Cesare.While I knew the story, obviously, and how it would turn out, there were enough surprises to keep up my curiosity. The (eight) dwarves are beautifully described, nothing more than lumps of rock until Bianca's thoughts describe personalities for them, and I laughed over Next's doglike appearance.This is a long, long way from Disney, whose version I also adore, but this is a much more sadistic tale, and completely unsuitable for children.Delicious!
AuntJha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting look at the Snow White Fable and includes The Broga Family, who were Machiavelli's inspiration for "The Prince."
Rhinoa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an adult re-telling of Snow White. Set in Montefiore, Bianca de Nevada is 7 at the beginning of the tale living as an only child with her father after her mother died. Keeping her company are a potty mouthed cook Primavera Vecchia and not so holy Priest Far Ludovico. One day a noble couple come to visit, brother and sister Cesare Borgia and Lucrezia. There has been much speculation that Lucrezia had an inapprioriate relationship with their father, the Pope, and she has definitely had/is having one with her brother despite them both being married.Cesare sends Bianca's father off to retrieve a sacred branch from the original Tree of Knowledge said to have 3 apples still growing upon it. They will make sure Bianca is ok while he is gone. He has no choice but to leave her behind and is followed unbeknownst to him by a dwarf. Lucrezia finds a beautiful mirror that Bianca's father found and uses it to see other people and places. She is upset with Cesar makes a pass at Bianca and feels her looks are fading, so sends Primavera's son out to the woods to kill Bianca and bring back her heart. He lets her go and she wakes up years later in a cave surrounded by dwarves.This was a great tale. The dwarves were my favourites, they were so inhuman and well described. Definitely not the Disney versions with the more appealing names, these have names like Bitter, Nextday and Heartless. Like I said, it's definitely not intended for children. There was a really interesting section at the very end where Maguire talks about some of the history of the real Cesar and Lucrezia and where he got his ideas from which was fascinatinb. Definitely recommended.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sex with a squid? Pissing in a basket of onions? "Whores stripped of their clothes and required to pick up chestnuts with their nether lips?" A unicorn horn in the lap causing "cock trembling and releasing its scatter of milky pearl"? Hoo boy. I cannot believe I finished this book. Awful.
snorkstress on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is far more sophisticated and thoughtful, and a more demanding read than Wicked, with its primitive, politically correct concepts that really amount to nothing new or original. Mirror, Mirror is not a story of Snow White -- we all know by now that Maguire concentrates on peripheral characters, not the traditional heroes -- it focuses on the misery and self-hatred that motivates the Wicked Stepmother -- in this story, Lucrezia Borgia, with whom, of course, the author took liberties, as he would with any historical character. This novel is a complex, intricate portrait of what seems like an unforgivable person, yet she can break your heart without making you want to forgive her. Through the dwarves subplot, Maguire also examines humanity and self-identity that sometimes can be achieved only through the eyes of another. If you *loved* Wicked, just rent the Disney version of Snow White; it'll make you happier. Mirror, Mirror is for well-read grownups with functional attention span.
delphica on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You know, I liked Wicked a LOT, but I had this weird feeling after reading it that I wasn't too interested in Maguire's other work because the endless "alterna-tales" shtick seemed tiresome ... which doesn't make a lot of sense now that I think about it, because I never sat around and thought things like "oh Dorothy Sayers, if she's just going to keep writing books about Peter Wimsey solving murders, then why even bother?" But regardless, I was reluctant.I ended up loving this. He's not a perfect writer, but he's crafted this rich, rich story that feels like a completely legitimate foundation for Snow White. In his version, the events are taking place in renaissance Italy, and Lucrezia Borgia takes the role of wicked stepmother, although she more like a wicked guardian. And I just loved her by the end ... she is wicked, but so captivating. And maybe the best part was the treatment of the deer killed by the huntsman to provide evidence of the heart, which as a child I always thought was the most horrific part of the Snow White tale.
sedeara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was sort of like a double retelling -- one of Snow White, and one of the Italian Borgias family. I really liked the use of historical events and people as the backdrop of this fairy tale, particularly the use of Lucrezia Borgia as the "evil stepmother." It made me wish I knew more about the family's actual history because I think I would have enjoyed it more. But as much as I liked that aspect, the rootedness of the story in history and politics made some of the more fantastical elements (dwarves that "evolved" out of rocks, the magic mirror, Snow White's multiple-year sleeping episodes on more than one occasion) feel a little out of place. Essentially, I wanted the fantastical elements to be as clearly defined as the historical and political elements, but they sort of weirdly just floated in and out. I also felt like Gregory Maguire laid a lot of groundwork in the first half of the book with the intricacy I've come to appreciate about his writing, but the second half felt rushed, as though he suddenly remembered he was writing a Snow White retelling and had to get all the elements in there. And I couldn't find a way to justify the way the narrative went beyond head-hopping to switch between third and first person with no apparent rhyme or reason (I'm sure he had one because he must have explained it to his editor SOMEHOW, but I didn't invest myself in discovering it). Still, he breathed a lot of newness into an old story without totally mangling it, and that's the measure of a truly good retelling in my book.
willowcove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I didn't care for "Wicked," this one I really liked. The perspective that Cinderella wasn't so nice is really cool.
hannajohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book that is ultimately style-over-substance, but I do love the style. Gregory Maguire's prose is rich and inventive in this novel. The main character of Lucrezia Borgia is well imagined, with the other characters getting handled only in short, incomplete bursts. Ultimately I wanted more to happen in the plot, but the style of writing always kept me going. Of the G Maguire books I've read, I'd place this after Wicked, but ahead of Son of a Witch and What the Dickens.
bookheaven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very good retelling of the Snow White fairy tale.
Joles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like other Gregory Maguire books although it isn't easy to read the story is unique and an interesting take on the story of Snow White that we all know. This is not your popular Disney rendition!
sarahinfla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
good retelling of classic " Cinderella". And some good history thrown in. But nowhere near as good as " Wicked".