Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making
Author: Catherynne Valente
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: 2011
I really wanted to love this book. I love all things fairy tale related. I even dedicated a TTT post to all things fairy tale, especially retellings and new tales. So, when I saw this book on the library shelf I snapped it up and make my way home to enjoy it.
I was intrigued by the title. It elicits a sense of the “We Can Do It” spirit of Rosie the Riveter (one of my personal icons). Sadly, the book’s protagonist September does not live up to Rosie’s “Can Do” spirit. She stumbles her way through the novel, not quite sure of this way or that way, and reminds me more of The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz.
Speaking of Oz, this novel seems very much like an Oz story, only not as well developed. As I was reading it, I could almost outline the entire story before it happened. While I realize there are no new ideas under the sun, there are ways to make old ideas seem new. And I believe this was the author’s intent with this novel, but it doesn’t seem to reach that end.
I realize any “new” fairy tale is going to draw heavily from those tales already in existence. This novel seems too full of elements from other stories. It’s almost like the author made a list of great elements from classic tales and assigned her own, seemingly accidental, elements to replace them. Dorothy is from Kansas, September is from Nebraska. Both are “orphaned” in a sense. Dorothy flew on a tornado, September on a wind & cheetah.
Valente’s strength lies in her descriptive writing powers. But, lacking an original story, the description is too reminiscent of other tales. I really did want to love this book. 😦
- Anyone who likes fairytales