As a person who is very fond of Fairytales, Fairytale retellings and Kate Forsyth, I just had to get my hands on this book! Even though it took ages and a shipment from Australia, I got it.
Unfortunately you have to take the term, ‘Fairytale retelling’ a bit loosely with this one, because if you are expecting enchanted princes and singing furniture you’ll be very disappointed. However this book is actually more based on the Grimm’s original Fairytale, ‘The Singing Soaring lark’ which is the tale of a man and his 3 daughters. The youngest (and also the favourite) asks the father to bring her back a singing soaring lark, and when the father tries to take one from the Lions garden, he is forced to promise his youngest daughter in return for his life, and so the youngest daughter marries the Lion and saves her father. Much like Eva in The Beast’s Garden. There are a few subtle hints to the Disney version also, Roses have a very strong presence in this book.
One of my favourite things about Kate Forsyth is her ability to take a known story or Fairytale and really ground it in a time and place. Setting this one in Nazi Germany was a fantastic choice. As an aspiring author I’m so jealous of her ability to find a perfect connection between a story and a piece of history, especially since she does it so flawlessly.
Another thing I admire about her is how much effort and research she puts into her work. Almost all of the people in this book were real people from history and I’m so glad she brought them into this story because so many of them fought and they died doing so and they deserve to be remembered.
There isn’t much to give away spoiler wise in this book,it pretty much has the universally known ending to the Second World war, but I will say it is a beautiful story with fascinating characters and insights and it does an amazing job of presenting different points of view and opinions. I didn’t have much of a sense of where the non Jewish citizens of Berlin stood and now I feel enriched with perspectives.
Kate Forsyth is a dedicated and well researched writer and it shows on every page. From the hard hitting historical facts to the Fairytale metaphors. And I’m not sure if this says more about her writing or about my obsession with dogs, but I’m not sure how she wrote a book set in Nazi Germany and had me weeping most when the dog died 😦