Grimm's Last Fairytale: A Novel

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9780312272906: Grimm's Last Fairytale: A Novel
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In September 1863 Jacob Grimm travels through rural western Germany with his devoted niece, Auguste-- who longs to learn, at last, the truth about her family-- and Kummel, their new and enigmatic manservant. As relations between the three reach the boiling point, Jacob's traumas and heartbreaks here in his original homeland are revealed in vivid flashbacks. Now, old, Jacob resists Auguste's attempts to make him take stock of his life, but memories that are repressed have a tendency to reappear in other places and in other guises.

Throughout Jacob's travels, he is reminded of the folk tales he and his brother Wilhelm collected in their Tales for the Young and Old. Although the brothers were renowned language scholars and passionate supporters of German unification, they were haunted throughout their lives by the Tales. Most notable is the feverish fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, which holds a shattered mirror to a life, a country, and a history. The Sleeping Beauty recounted here is neither the Disney version nor even the Grimms' version, but an enchanting tale that goes beyond the marriage of the prince and princess to reveal the surprising truth behind the evil spell.

In his compelling historical novel, Haydn Middleton re-creates the life story of literature's most famous brothers. It is a history that could almost be a fairy tale itself, with its fabulous changes of fortune, tests of duty and honor, arrogant princes, lost loves, and twisted family relationships-- all unfolding in a world of dark forests and even darker politics.

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About the Author:

Haydn Middleton graduated from New College, Oxford, in 1976 and has taught and lectured in history. He is also the author of six acclaimed novels. He lives in Oxford, England, with his two children.

From Publishers Weekly:

"Happily ever after" and "once upon a time" have no place in this complex novel by British author Middleton, based on the lives of the world-renowned fairy-tale masters, the Brothers Grimm. In 1863, Jacob Grimm; his niece, Auguste; and their manservant, Kummel, travel from Berlin to Grimm's hometown of Hesse, where Auguste hopes to shed some light on family secrets. Her reticent uncle, however, is preoccupied with private memories of his humble childhood, his deceased brother and partner, Wilhelm, and their work on their first collection of stories, Tales for Young and Old. As the journey continues, a third narrative surfaces: Jacob Grimm's final telling of "Sleeping Beauty." In this troubling rendition of the fairy tale, a young man traverses a fractured yet magical countryside in search of the fabled princess, but his kiss fails to wake her immediately. When she finally opens her eyes, they marry, but the new prince's mother turns out to be the witch who first cast the sleeping spell. On the return trip to Berlin, Grimm's health is failing, and his niece is haunted by his reminiscences and her newfound feelings for Kummel. Beneath the surface of his narrative, Middleton (The People in the Picture; Son of Two Worlds, etc.) deftly surveys the German political landscape of the late 19th century and reveals a connection between Jacob Grimm's world and the horrors to come in the 20th century. Dense and many-layered, the novel requires much patience, but readers willing to invest the effort will reap a modest reward.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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