Friday, June 08, 2012

The Light Princess

The Light Princess. George MacDonald. 1864. 110 pages.
Once upon a time, so long ago that I have quite forgotten the date, there lived a king and queen who had no children. And the king said to himself, "All the queens of my acquaintance have children, some three, some seven, and some as many as twelve; and my queen has not one. I feel ill-used." So he made up his mind to be cross with his wife about it. But she bore it all like a good patient queen as she was. Then the king grew very cross indeed. But the queen pretended to take it all as a joke, and a very good one too.
"Why don't you have any daughters, at least?" said he. "I don't say sons; that might be too much to expect." 
"I am sure, dear king, I am very sorry," said the queen.
"So you ought to be," retorted the king; "you are not going to make a virtue of that, surely."
But he was not an ill-tempered king, and in any matter of less moment would have let the queen have her own way with all his heart. This, however, was an affair of state. The queen smiled. 
"You must have patience with a lady, you know, dear king," said she.
She was, indeed, a very nice queen, and heartily sorry that she could not oblige the king immediately. (1-2)
While this isn't technically my first completed read for A Literary Odyssey's Victorian Celebration, it is my first completed read by a Victorian author. George MacDonald's The Light Princess is a true must read. For anyone of any age who loves a good story. It reads like a fairy tale. It has all the elements that we've come to associate with fairy tales: a king and queen that struggle to have a child, the birth of a beautiful baby, a christening that does NOT go as planned, a "curse" upon an innocent baby, etc. And that's just the beginning.

This is the second time I've read this short novel. And I think it's a book that begs to be reread again and again because once in a lifetime could never be enough.

The Light Princess is such a DELIGHTFUL book. It seems obvious in a way to call it delightful and charming and oh-so-magical. But it's true. There are no other words that could do it justice. It's the story of what happens when this childless king and queen have a baby girl of their own. It's the story of what happens when one of the princesses (who is also a witch) is NOT invited to the christening.

The king tried to have patience, but he succeeded very badly. It was more than he deserved, therefore, when, at last, the queen gave him a daughter--as lovely a little princess as ever cried.
The day drew near when the infant must be christened. The king wrote all the invitations with his own hand. Of course somebody was forgotten.
Now it does not generally matter if somebody is forgotten, only you must mind who. Unfortunately, the king forgot without intending to forget; and so the chance fell upon the Princess Makemnoit, which was awkward. For the princess was the king's own sister; and he ought not to have forgotten her. But she had made herself so disagreeable to the old king, their father, that he had forgotten her in making his will; and so it was no wonder that her brother forgot her in writing his invitations. But poor relations don't do anything to keep you in mind of them. Why don't they? The king could not see into the garret she lived in, could he?
She was a sour, spiteful creature. The wrinkles of contempt crossed the wrinkles of peevishness, and made her face as full of wrinkles as a pat of butter. If ever a king could be justified in forgetting anybody, this king was justified in forgetting his sister, even at a christening. She looked very odd, too. Her forehead was as large as all the rest of her face, and projected over it like a precipice. When she was angry, her little eyes flashed blue. When she hated anybody, they shone yellow and green. What they looked like when she loved anybody, I do not know; for I never heard of her loving anybody but herself, and I do not think she could have managed that if she had not somehow got used to herself. But what made it highly imprudent in the king to forget her was--that she was awfully clever. In fact, she was a witch; and when she bewitched anybody, he very soon had enough of it; for she beat all the wicked fairies in wickedness, and all the clever ones in cleverness. (3-5)
Of course, the uninvited guest comes, and of course they bring an unwelcome gift. In this case, the princess-witch deprived the baby of gravity. So from the day of the christening on, she floated. The king and queen tried to find some positive aspects to it, but, really what could they do when their apologies failed? Just go on loving their daughter as she was with all their hearts.

But their daughter was different in another way too. She had no gravity in matters of the heart and mind too. She could not take anything seriously. Her reaction to life--to all of life--was laughter. Which is just as serious a curse as the other, in my opinion. For there was an emptiness in all her emotions, her actions.

The Light Princess is the story of what happens when she meets a prince. Will the young woman incapable of falling, be capable of falling in love?

I loved the young man who comes to the kingdom and befriends the princess. I love his conversations with the princess. And I do love seeing the big transformation at the end. It's quite magical.

I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book!

Read The Light Princess
  • If you love fairy tales, 
  • If you love children's fantasy
  • If you love good storytelling
  • If you love 'light' romance
  • If you love happy endings

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous 7:06 PM  

YES - delightful and charming and oh-so-magical. And I would add, lovely and whimsical. I've read the more-famous Princess and the Goblins, but I like the Light Princess better.

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