Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Club - February

I just got back from this month's book club where we read The True Story Of Hansel And Gretel. I had meant to write this post beforehand to gather my thoughts about the book but I got sucked into the Oscars last night instead. There were only three of us tonight and I hadn't met either of them before, but it turned out really well. We were all on the same page with the book (possible spoilers ahead!) - it was a great read and very engaging but too contrived at the end. I am generally a huge fan of books that tell an existing story from a different point of view (see: Wicked and The Red Tent) so I liked this book from the start.

One of the main differences between this book and the ones mentioned above is that this book is told in a completely different setting than the original story. I really admire the author's ability to take the fairy tale (is that what Hansel and Gretel is called?) and move it into a very un-fairy tale setting: Poland during World War II. This book about broke my heart a million times with its descriptions of scarring the town children so that the Nazis wouldn't want them, the engineer father who survived in the woods with the resistance fighters, Gretel's rape, and the death of the "witch" at Birkenau. About three-quarters through the book I almost started hoping for an unhappy ending because anything else would seem too sugar-coated.

I feel like the ending tried to tie up too many loose ends. The young couple got away with the baby, the ultimate bad guy was caught and punished, and Hansel and Gretel found their father. It's not that I wanted these characters to suffer, but I would have been happy with an ending left open for interpretation. Also, I am a major crier, and it just doesn't feel right when I start sobbing halfway through a book that turns out to have a happy ending. Seriously, I read this book in two sittings and cried for about two hours straight.

Anyway, I really liked it and it was a great book club read. Highly recommended. Next month: The Good Earth

1 comment:

evolving yeti said...

Funny, I just started reading Wicked. Sometimes we are on the same page. I think books are a good example of that. What can we say, awesome people have awesome taste.