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Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by…

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale (edition 2011)

by Carolyn Turgeon

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Title:Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale
Authors:Carolyn Turgeon
Info:Broadway (2011), Edition: Original, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon



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Should you be considering reading this, be advised that it's much closer to Hans Christian Andersen's short story than it is to the Disney movie. But unlike both the short story and the movie, Mermaid is a book for adults. The princess, who only shows up in Andersen's story long enough to be an obstacle, gets equal time with the mermaid, and the novel alternates between their points of view. I liked how Turgeon expanded the world of the original story, giving a context for why Princess Margrethe is at a convent, hinting at why the spell that makes Lenia human hurts so much, and exploring how the worlds of humans and merfolk split from each other. Unfortunately, just like in the original story, everyone falls in love unbelievably quickly. I know, I know—this is a fairy tale, and true love at first sight is a convention of the genre, but since it's also a novel with time to develop the characters, I was hoping for more. Still, I enjoyed this book and would like to read more of Turgeon's work. ( )
  Silvernfire | Mar 13, 2016 |
About a third of the way in, I found myself hoping that the emotional heart of this story would be between the mermaid and the princess (rather than between either of them and the prince), but I figured that was just wishful thinking. Imagine my (delighted) surprise when I got to the end! ( )
  PerpetualRevision | Oct 25, 2015 |
Overall it was an ok book, but that's about it. Just ok. What really drops it from a 3 to a 2 is the unsatisfying ending. The ending itself was ok, but there was a lack of connection for me. I just felt like I got to the end and wasn't happy with the wrap-up. More emotion, more . . . something. It was just lacking there. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
This broke my heart, but was a very good, light read! ( )
  MargaretArmour | Dec 28, 2013 |
Originally posted at These Pretty Words.

I love me a good fairy tale. While I don’t consider myself an annoying girly-girl in that I need everything to be pink and frilly, I do concede the point that I’m a bit of a princess. I collect Cinderella memorabilia and find myself wandering into the Disney store under the guise of shopping for my niece (hint: she’s not even one. She doesn’t know who Cinderella is yet). Anywho, while I adore the Disneyfied versions of these tales, I’m far more intrigued by the original stories. Have you read the original versions? Grimm? Perrault? Andersen? They are morbid and sometimes scary, far from what most little girls today hear. When searching out material for my TBR list, I added a number of fairy-tale retellings. Mermaid is the second one I tackled and I’m happy to say, it’s the second one I’ve really enjoyed.

Mermaid, as you may have guessed, is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, the Hans Christian Andersen version, no Scuttle, Flounder or Sebastian in sight. When I picked this one up, the summary really caught my attention for one key reason: the story is told in alternating points of view, switching every chapter between the mermaid, Lenia, and the human princess, Margrethe, who finds the prince on the beach after Lenia saves him. If you know the tale, you’re aware that TLM is ultimately a bit of a tragedy, and Mermaid definitely sticks to the major plot points.

Lenia is a mermaid princess who is fascinated by the human world, more specifically, the “myth” that humans have souls, which allow them to “live” forever. Mermaids, on the other hand, have long lives but eventually turn to sea-foam and cease to exist altogether. She’s heard tales of when her kind mingled freely with the humans, but lives in a time when any interaction is strictly forbidden. Each mer-person is granted one day to visit the surface, though they must remain hidden. When Lenia’s day comes, she doesn’t waste a moment, swimming for the surface at midnight, despite the fact that there’s a raging storm. The young mermaid comes across a sinking ship and watches in fascination as sailors die all around her. Swimming through the wreckage, she finds one man who’s still alive and feels pulled to save him from the same fate of his crew.

Meanwhile, on land, we are introduced to Margrethe, a young princess who is being housed in disguise at a convent for her safety. Her father, the Northern King is convinced that the enemy Southern kingdom is gathering their forces, intending to attack. On the morning after the storm, Margrethe is out walking in the garden when she spots a mermaid, Lenia, carrying a man to shore. Lenia spots Margrethe and somehow calls to her to come and save the man.

The mysterious man turns out to be the prince of the Southern lands, Christopher, a fact Margrethe doesn’t find out until after a mild flirtation with the handsome stranger. When she discovers his identity, she flees, terrified that he will somehow find out who she is. Still, the young princess is drawn to the man a mermaid dropped into her lap, wondering why he was brought to her. When Christopher is well enough to travel, the two share a final (or so they think) goodbye with a very sweet kiss. By this point, I’m firmly on Team Margrethe.

Back under water, Lenia can’t stop thinking about the man she saved and visits the surface once more to see if she can find him again. Instead, she finds Margrethe. The two share a conversation, each clearly fascinated with the other, envious of the life the other woman leads.

Shortly after, Margrethe returns to her home land and Lenia strikes a bargain with the sea witch to allow her to become human. Here again, we see a very adult version of TLM because the trade-off for legs is having her tongue cut out and constant stabbing pain with every step she takes. Lenia bears her burden in hopes of gaining the prince’s love and his hand in marriage so that she may one day gain a soul of her very own.

Unaware of Lenia’s plan, Margrethe hatches one of her own. Convinced that the mermaid bringing the prince to her was a sign, she agrees to give herself in marriage to the Southern prince in exchange for peace between the two kingdoms. When she arrives in the Southern kingdom, she finds not only the Prince, but Lenia as well.

What really caught my interest about this telling is that you get two equal sides of the story. Neither of these women are the “wrong choice.” They both have their good and bad qualities but each loves the prince in their own way and neither holds a grudge against the woman competing for his hand. Typically I’m not a fan of love triangles. I like to choose a side and solidly support that choice. In this story, I wanted to choose a side, but the writing and the characters pushed me to consider both options equally.

If you’re a fairy tale lover like me, I’d highly recommend this book. It’s a quick read but packed with good stuff. While it’s not overly erotic, it is definitely an adult version of the familiar tale, woven in a beautiful way that will challenge your allegiance.

( )
  ThesePrettyWords | Sep 23, 2013 |
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For my parents and sister.
First words
Scarcely had she entered the river than she was cleansed, / gleaming once more like a white stone in the rain, / and without a backward look, she swam once more, / swam toward nothingness, swam to her dying. -- Pablo Neruda
It was a gloomy, overcast day, like all days were, when the princess first saw them. The two of them, who would change her life.
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Book description
In Turgeon's surprisingly dark retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, two women pine for the affections of a prince: mermaid Lenia, who pulls Prince Christopher from the sea, and Margrethe, the princess of the rival kingdom, who witnesses the rescue from the convent where she hides from the war raging between their two kingdoms. Lenia, who falls instantly in love with the prince, sacrifices the sea, her voice, and her health to be with him on dry land. Meanwhile, Margrethe believes that marrying the prince would unite their kingdoms, but when she arrives to arrange it, she finds him already enraptured with Lenia. While he remains unaware that the girl he loves is also the mermaid who saved him, Margrethe recognizes her rival immediately and puts into motion a plan to send the ailing mermaid back to the sea and save her own ravaged kingdom. Turgeon has done a superb job of creating compelling characters and conflict from a story already familiar to readers.
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Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning, as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared in to the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom. Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and a chance to win his heart.--From back cover.… (more)

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