Friday 5 July 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Modern Fairies by Clare Pollard

13 June 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Why don't they tell you it is the beautiful princess who becomes the evil queen; that they are just the same person at different points in their story?

Versailles, 1682: a city of the rich, a living fairy-tale, Louis XIV's fever dream. It's a place of opulence, beauty, and power. But strip back the lavish exterior of polite society, and you'll find a dark undercurrent of sexual intrigue and vicious gossip. Nobody is safe here - no matter how highly born they are.

No one knows this better than Madame Marie d'Aulnoy. Each week, a rogue group of intellectuals gather at her Parisian home to debate, flirt and perform Contes de FΓ©es - fairy tales - that challenge the status quo, at a salon that will change the course of literature forever. But while they weave tales of glass slippers, enchanted beasts and long-haired princesses, a wolf is lurking, who threatens to destroy the members of the salon one by one.

Brilliant and bawdy, romantic and provocative, The Modern Fairies is a dazzling novel inspired by real events, about the delights and dangers of storytelling in dark times.

πŸ“– Review..

In the lavishly decorated salon of Madame Marie d'Aulnoy, the great and the not so good of Paris gather to listen to Contes de FΓ©es. We would know these as fairy tales, stories which tell of enchanted forests and beautiful princesses but these are troubled times and the tales have a much darker message. Beautifully recreating the seventeenth century decadence of the Sun King’s court, we can be found walking the myriad corridors of the Palace of Versailles, or sipping sickly syrups in the gossipy confines of Madame d’Aulnoy's salon, listening to stories which fascinate as much as they frighten their selected audiences.

Bawdy and sexually intimate in places The Modern Fairies is a quirky little story which is both fun and frivolous but is also quite, quite tragic. It shows the attempted empowerment of women in a time where they were viewed as little more than the property of their husbands and fathers to do with as they willed, however, given freedom in their story telling attempts to make up for the imprisonment of their spirit. The author writes well, the atmosphere is gloriously alive and the way in which these fairy tales evolved is done with fine attention to every detail.

Based on the life of the real Madame Marie d'Aulnoy, who lived in the seventeenth century, this lively historical romp shines the spotlight on this fascinating time in French history.

About the Author

Clare Pollard is a British writer (poet, novelist and playwright), literary translator and critic. She lives in London with her husband and children.,

X @poetclare #TheModernFairies

@FigTreePenguin @PenguinUKBooks

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