Mothers Grimm by Danielle Wood
Allen & Unwin, 2014
I love fairy tale retellings. It’s my “thing.” So, when I saw Mothers Grimm, I was instantly hooked–especially with the fabulous cover design and its promising blurbs. Tell me–who can resist “wickedly dark, astonishingly funny?”
But I have to admit, this book wasn’t what I was expecting. If you’re after Once-upon-a-times, “love’s first kiss,” and beleaguered princesses, this isn’t the book for you. For the record, that’s not what I look for in fairy tale retellings. I like intriguing archetypes and dark, magical stories that zap the slumbering collective-unconscious, neither of which I found in this book. My preference leans towards the retellings that resemble the original fairy tale in tone and shape (a la Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth). In Mothers Grimm, the most we get of the original is a faint fingerprint, the slightest whiff.
Though the fairytale link is tenuous, what this book offers is beautiful writing and crystalline insights. Danielle Wood’s stories of motherhood, love and female friendships thrum with truth. On page after page I encountered creepily familiar thoughts, insecurities, and reflections–things I’d previously diagnosed as my own brand of weird. Who knew other women were plagued with such things? Maybe I’m okay after all…(That or Danielle is my long-lost twin).
Raw and real?–Yes, absolutely. “Astonishingly funny?”–Not for this reader. Sorry. It’s probably just me and my hormone-benumbed funny bone. I have no doubt other women will cackle over the author’s wicked observations.
I heartily recommend this one to lovers of realistic women’s fiction. There is a lot to admire and enjoy in Mothers Grimm–even if there is no big bad wolf, wicked witch, or happily-ever-after.
*Disclosure: I received an uncorrected proof from Allen & Unwin for an honest review.
Want to know more? The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed Danielle Wood here.