July 18, 2011

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making

I picked this up expecting His Dark Materials, but it’s closer to Winnie The Pooh. This is the story of a girl who embraces experience without a second thought. When the Green Wind comes to her window and invites her to faerie, she doesn't think twice/

The most striking thing about a charming children’s fable about a Girl Who Says “Yes” is the reminder that so many feminist heroines, from Austen to Rowling, are girls who say “No.” More precisely, they stand athwart the road upon which society has placed their future and they shout defiance, though in a number of stories (notably the Twilight series), what they refuse is more explicit and conventional. It’s not always true, of course. Pullman’s Lyra is not a girl who says “no:” she is a girl who lies. Mary Russell, consort of Laurie King’s aging Sherlock, considers comment on such matters as personal fate unseemly, unnecessary, and perhaps undignified. But, yes, Valente has a point: a lot of our YA heroines have always been Buckley Conservatives, and the change sets this fable off on an interesting foot.

The wonder of embracing “yes” is hard to sustain in this Parsifal story, not least because our heroine, young September, is chiefly called upon to sacrifice things (one of her shoes, and then, twice, all her clothing) for which she hardly cares.