I’d known this title for quite some time before, but I didn’t pick it up right away to avoid the possibility of getting disappointed. I didn’t know what to expect and well, to be honest, I was not aware that this book was based on a fairy tale. With that being said, encountering the book’s title didn’t exactly catch my attention. Plus, it wasn’t in my comfort genre. Several months later, though, when I discovered the blogosphere and saw that the book received high praises from the bloggers, it finally convinced me to buy a copy (from Book Depository) and read it.
Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:
Princess Anidori spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s enthralling stories. Little does she realise how valuable her aunt’s strange knowledge will be when she grows older. At the age of sixteen, Ani is told that she must leave her homeland to marry someone she has never met. But fate has much worse in store for her in this original and magical tale of a girl who must understand her own incredible talent before she can overcome those who wish her harm. A story of betrayal, jealousy and romance.
The beginning of the book already catches my attention and captures my heart unexpectedly. I don’t always feel something like this when reading books and being Shannon Hale’s first book to be picked up, The Goose Girl proves to live up to my expectations.
Right at the start, I already feel some connection to Princess Ani. I’m not the eldest child in the family, but I understand the pressure projected by the parents to their eldest child, being given more responsibilities and expectations, etc. It’s, indeed, hard to act like someone you’re not and readers can see what Ani had been through to impress the queen and soon realizes that she cannot make her mother proud as she wants her to be. It is evident that as she is being deprived of her growing special ability, she begins to feel more insecure of her weakness.
I cannot help but express empathy towards Ani. Witnessing the hardships that she goes through throughout the book brings heaviness to my heart. I keep telling myself that she deserves something better. On the other hand, I know that what she experiences will be significant in shaping her character to become a better person. This phase in her life has also given her the opportunity to hone her unique talent. I guess the statement: “Everything happens for a reason.” best describes this phenomenon.
I have read the summarized original version of The Goose Girl tale online and looking back at the story written by Shannon Hale, all I can say is that she delivers the retelling well. She retains most of the details, but adds more characters and makes a twist in the storyline to make it more interesting. What I love about the book is the deep bond and friendship formed between Ani and Falada, her and Talone, Geric, Enna, and the rest of her friends when she becomes the goose girl. The development and dynamism in their characterization have been significant in Shannon Hale’s story building, especially Ani’s. The book is able to show that facing one’s weakness will eventually make him/her stronger and braver.
Ani’s experience being a commoner definitely opened her eyes to a world she never thought of seeing. I can relate to this in a sense that the university where I studied before had an immersion program where the students in their senior year get to live for a few days with a family in a less fortunate society. My immersion experience was definitely a bit scary at the beginning, but worth it in the end. In a way, I definitely learned a lot from the family I lived in with.
Anyway, moving on, I enjoyed the book to the fullest. The story build-up flows so naturally and gets more entertaining as it develops further. Every scene is even elaborated in great detail that it seems like a movie is playing in my head. I can say that The Goose Girl is one of the best retellings I’ve read in my whole life. I would love to read more of this in the future. It’s so captivating and gripping that Shannon Hale’s writing style brings out some magical element to the readers, too. Even I don’t want the story to end, but every story has to. Although of course, Ani’s life and story will still live on beyond the pages of the book. I definitely recommend this book to people of all ages.