Matchless, by Gregory Maguire

March 13, 2011 at 15:20 (Book Reviews, Children's Books, Fairy Tales, Fiction, Highly Rated Books) (, , , , )

8/10

The discerning reader will expect to find the Gregory Maguire whose taste seems to be that of bitter blackness with a cloyingly sweet moral of good things ultimately happening to those who suffer deservingly. In a sense, this book is straight out of his particular mould, with the exception of the black bitterness. The story of the match girl in the snow is told with Andersen’s pathos, but without the latent sexuality or gleeful twisting that so dampens Maguire’s other stories.

Maguire’s own innovations are not unwelcome, though nor are they particularly revolutionary. The whole story is rather simple, and it is a bit of a blessing that the background of the story is added with a light hand. This is rather an example of a careful touch-up of a beloved old antique story, than of plastering it over with something new and bright and gaudy. It might be claimed that the happy ending is too unfogivable a deviation from either Maguire’s or Andersen’s styles, but it shows welcome flexibility from the former and is entirely consistent with Andersen’s tragedies, many of which are written with the promise of good things to come, if not in this world then in the next. And the fact that Gregory Maguire has managed to incorporate this theme without making it pithy is certainly welcome.

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