The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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:

The Goose Girl coverPrincess 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.


About Rhin

Expression through words. Finding contentment in the simple things in life. Embracing opportunities. Daring to live her dream. View all posts by Rhin

7 responses to “The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

  • Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books

    I’m glad you finally decided to read this, Rhin! The Goose Girl was also my introduction to Hale’s works, and I must say it doesn’t disappoint. I think my favorite retellings are those that don’t deviate too much from the source material but still flesh out the details, characters, and world, which is exactly what Hale does in this story.

    • Rhin

      I’m also glad I got to finally read this book. And I agree with you, I come to love retellings more that are close to the original tale, hence my love for Beauty by Robin McKinley. I would definitely want to read more like these.

  • Tin (Rabbitin)

    I am happy you enjoyed this book! This is one of my favorite retellings. I loved Ani’s growth during the entire story. She might be the same girl at the end of the story, but not quite. She has become a leader, a champion of the masses if you will. 😀

    • Rhin

      I’m happy, too! I actually didn’t expect it to be this good. And you’re right about Ani. I really adore her characterization throughout the book. She’s not a spoiled princess or someone who ignores those who are not in the same social class as her. She treats them with equality – a role model to be followed.

  • Quinn

    I’m so so so glad that you loved The Goose Girl. It’s one of my favorite fairytale retellings, and I’ve read a lot of them. But as much as I love the Goose Girl, my favorite Shannon Hale is Book of a Thousand Days, which is also a retelling. The main character, Dashti, just stole my heart, and she hasn’t let it go. You should give it a try sometime.

    • Rhin

      Hi, Quinn! Yeah, I truly enjoyed The Goose Girl and I’m so glad I read it.

      Wow, sounds like Book of a Thousand Days is also good book. Thanks for recommending it, I will plan to read it sometime, hopefully soon!

  • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George | Perfect Nostalgia

    […] towards retellings that are written closely to the original tale like Beauty by Robin McKinley and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. And I must say, this book has the same effect on me as […]

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