If, like me, you’ve ever wondered how the heck a goose got to be in charge of telling stories to kids and a stork got to be in charge of delivering babies (not to mention how these animals became associated with women and women’s work and voices), this is the book for you.
Warner tells a compelling tale in this volume that encompasses hundreds of years and postulates that fairy tales have a hidden tale of their own about how women came to be valued for their silence rather than their voices, for their docility rather than their intelligence, and how their sexuality came to be feared and seen as a thing to control at all times. Nobody who has ever seen or read “The Stepford Wives” will be shocked to learn that medieval tales and woodcuts exist of a dread Dr. Lustucru who hammered the heads of willful wives at his smithy to render them compliant.
Particularly examined are tales of absent mothers (“Cinderella”), of beastly bridegrooms/brides (“Beauty and the Beast,”) of the fear and taboo of incestuous desire (“Donkeyskin”), and of women’s voices being silenced (“The Little Mermaid.”)
If you are interested in women’s studies and/or fairy tales, I can’t recommend this one enough.