Title: Mothers Grimm
Author: Danielle Wood
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Opening line: “…Now that you think about it, you realise you have known her your whole life …”
Blurb: A sly, cheeky and blackly comic novel about mothering, heartache, heartbreak, desire, love and death. Danielle Wood has turned four well-known fairy tales inside out and upside down, shaking out their secrets in order to illuminate the hidden fears and desires of four very modern women. In a fairytale, the only good mother is six feet under. All the others are bad news. A fairytale mother will exchange her first-born child for a handful of leafy greens. And if times get tough, she’ll walk her babes into the woods and leave them there. But mothers of today do no such things. Do they?.
My thoughts: I have to say the book wasn’t quite what I expected. I assumed that each of the four stories that appear in MOTHERS GRIMM would be a recognisable retelling of some well-loved Grimm brother’s fairy tale. However what I felt I actually got were contemporary stories that were so twisted from the original tale that the connection was at best very tenuous, and in the case of at least one of them I just didn’t get it at all. The prologue set the stage and I absolutely loved it. It described the ‘good mother’ the one we all strive to be, but no real mother can ever achieve the goal, and concludes that”…why it is, in fairy tales, that the Good Mother is always dead.” Once the prologue was completed the stories commenced – Lettuce, inspired by Rapunzel; Cottage by Hansel and Gretel; Sleep, naturally by Sleeping Beauty; and, finally, Nag inspired by The Goose Girl. Set in Australia the main characters are all mothers who are each more familiar to me than the mythical perfect mother. Mothers-to-be taking yoga classes to ensure a stress free, pain free birth all obsessing over one of the other women; a working mother who is traumatised at having to leave her precious (dare I say spoiled) son at a day-care centre, a teen suddenly rebelling and falling pregnant and desperately needing sleep, and the final one was about an overworked housewife and mother. In all of the tales the reader is told of the fairy tale link, although except for the last one I am sure most readers will pick up on it themselves. I really enjoyed the first two stories, however, the last two stories were not really my cup of tea and the last one, Nag, didn’t draw me in at all. Each of the stories are very well written and many of the fictional mothers shared thoughts with the reader that seemed hauntingly familiar to some of my own thoughts as a first time mother – their insecurities, fears and mind-numbing tiredness. I didn’t find it funny – well there was humour in the prologue, but the stories that followed steadily seem to increase in bleakness. As it says on the cover ‘Happy endings not guaranteed.’
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C – Above average. Was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $27.99.