The True Story of Hansel and Gretel
by Louise Murphy
“Do not struggle when the hook of a word pulls you into the air of truth and you cannot breathe.”
As for me, I can say I was totally satisfied of the books I have read so far, but on March 17th I changed my mind.
The date is important, not just to wish you happy St.Patrick’s Day (though too late!), but because on this exact day I finally finished The True Story of Hansel and Gretel.
I had never heard anything about this book, but while making some research on the Internet to find out some good titles for a previous post of mine, I saw this book that was, and still is, super recommended.
To be honest, I’d been more inspired to buy it by the title than by the story itself; I wanted to read something set during the years of WWII and I had no idea which book I wanted to read, and the reason why I chose it is simply because it is obviously strongly related to the worldly known fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.
The only information I read before starting my reading was that the author was inspired by the plot of the fairy tale to write her own story, strictly connected with it.
Good, I thought, and I bought it without wondering if it was a good choice or not, I was too curious.
The story is quite simple; in the last months of the Nazi occupation in Poland, two Jewish children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest.
Easy, that’s all.
The name of Hansel and Gretel are chosen by the stepmother to hide the children’s Jewishness, so they must call themselves with this names to be safe.
I firmly think that the idea of creating something new and different from a fairy tale is a great challenge that a writer issues to him/herself, as for John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things.
As I expected, the first chapters are engaging because there is no explanation given to the reader, you find yourself immediately inside the story, there is action and suspense.
Then, after the first pages the story starts becoming too slow and redundant; I don’t know if it was a firm choice of the author to organise the event and the narration in this way, as to show through the boring chapters the boringness of the life of people in a little village in those years.
I hope this is the real reason, because after the first ten chapter I put the book aside because I had no desire to keep on reading it, and I felt sorry because I started my reading with maybe too much enthusiasm.
But when March came, I decided to give it a second chance, and in a few days I finished it.
The last chapters, no more than ten, are the most interesting, the ones that really make you want just to keep on reading and reading, I strongly wanted to know how it was going to end.
So, summing up, the last ten chapters and the first five, more or less, represent the interesting part of the book, but the chapters that are between them are too boring for me.
Since the beginning of this 2017 I can now say that this book here is the first one that receives a bad review and a bad rating on my Goodreads account too, one star out of five.
As always, I recommend it though I know I won’t read it again, because there may be someone that will be positively charmed by its sotry.