June 11, 2007

Review:Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye

The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye
by A.S. Byatt
In my quest for more great fairy tales by Byatt along the lines of the ones in Possession I was directed by Nymeth to read this book here. It was what I was looking for, mostly.
The first two stories, The Glass Coffin and Gode's Story, are taken directly from Possession. I loved The Glass Coffin the first time I read it and the second time when I reread it to Goldilocks, so I didn't mind reading it a third time. It is a true fairy tale about a poor tailor who is sent on an adventure to rescue a kidnapped princess. It is marvelous.
Gode's Story is about a young girl and a young sailor in love with each other and how they each miss out on each other's love because "the price is too high" but they both pay a much higher price in the end. This is no sappy fairy tale where everything turns out right in the end.
The Story of the Eldest Princess is my favorite of these tales. As the eldest Princess is sent out on a journey, it occurs to her that being the eldest princess of three, she is destined to fail. So she changes her story and finds it is just the way the story is supposed to go all along.
Dragon's Breath is a story with a bit more spookiness to it. It's not scary, just darker. Dragons are burning their way down a mountain and across a field toward a village that is so dull it weaves tapestries in the same design and with the same 4 colors as it has for generations on end. The inhabitants are forever changed by the dragons and their invasion.
The last story is a modern fairy tale set in Istanbul. Gillian is gifted a paper-weight, known as the Nightingale's Eye, that holds a Djinn, a Genie. As she is taking her time to make wise wishes there are other ancient fairy tales inter weaved into the story. This last tale is almost 200 pages long and slow reading, not necessarily boring but slow.
I was a little disappointed that most of these tales were recycled from other books but ultimately I was glad to read a book of Byatt's fairy tales. She understands how to bring up the most subtle feelings in her readers. Nymeth also suggested I read Elementals so I will be looking out for that title at my local library.


Nymeth said...

I had actually forgotten that two of the stories are also in Possession - I read it quite a long while ago.

The Story of the Eldest Princess is wonderful, isn't it? It's probably my favourite modern fairy tale.

I look forward to seeing what you think of Elementals! If you liked this one, it's likely that you'll like it as well, and it has the advantage of the stories being all new.

Eva said...

ooohhhh-this looks good

thanks so much for reviewing it, and bring it out into the open!

and thanks for the welcome back :) I'm super excited about reading all the books in the pile, esp the classics....I've never read Anne Bronte before, and so far I'm really enjoying her (I'm more of an Emily than Charlotte kind of gal)-I feel that she writes more tongue-in-cheek than either of her sisters