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Book Reviews

March 2000

By Sophie Masson. Sydney: Hodder, 1999. P/B, 185 p., $12.95
This is a re-telling of the English version of Cinderella, Tattercoats. It is seen from the viewpoint of a servant, Malkin, who is more than she seems - or realises herself. It also uses elements from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. As the story is set in Elizabethan England, the author cannot resist giving Shakespeare a walk-on role, at a book stall in London.

Lady Susanna, known as Tattercoats because of the rags she is forced to wear, lives with her grandfather, who can't forgive her for her mother's death in childbirth. His daughter's death hasn't stopped the old man from trying to bring her back with the help of one con artist after another.

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When an invitation to a midsummer ball arrives from Queen Elizabeth and the grandfather has been persuaded to sacrifice Susanna to the fairies to get his daughter back, she and Malkin and the gooseherd Pug (who is more than he seems!) escape together and head for London. On the way, they meet a number of people who join them on the adventure. The climax comes on Midsummer Night...

Folktales have stood the test of time, being told and re-told down the centuries, because, simply, they're good stories that appeal to a wide variety of people. Why not re-tell Cinderella? The characters are likable and the addition of the Shakespearean elements works surprisingly well.

This one is likely to appeal to girls about 12 to 14.

An entertaining, enchanting piece of work.

Sue Bursztynski

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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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