Tag Archives: Viktor & Rolf

Why I Still Turn to Fairytales…

Some might say it is a little bit queer (rolls eyes at self) that a thirty three year old man would be desperate to see Cinderella as his 33rd birthday treat, yet this was my story just a few weeks ago. Since I can remember when I have loved a good fairytale. This I blame on my family frankly.

Firstly my highly over imaginative grandfather who made me believe that the tower at the top of our hill (actually part of The Heights of Abraham) was where Rapunzel lived (who I named my pet duck after) and who also wrote me magical tales with me in them when I was three upwards. Secondly my pair of wicked ugly aunties (only joking Caz and Alice, honest, gulp) who told me tales of witches who lived on the hill, which I think they made up. Thirdly my mother who would read and reread (and reread and reread and reread) the wonderful Ladybird Well Loved Tales to me as a child. Fourthly my Gran who also read me those and would watch the Slipper and the Rose (one of the best versions of the Cinderella story, end of) at least four or five times, with a break in between for The Wizard of Oz or the odd Doris Day movie, when I would stay in the school holidays. I know, this explains so much right there doesn’t it?

My old family home, surrounded by forest – Sleeping Beauty much?

So I guess fairy tales were a safe haven when I was growing up and indeed have been my turn to books whenever I am feeling a little off kilter, ill, out of sorts or have the dreaded readers block. There are the odd exceptions but Into the Woods was a film not a book and probably shouldn’t be mentioned ever again. Oddly enough once I realised how much darker they were than sanitised Ladybird or Disney incarnations I loved them all the more, though still haven’t read all the ‘fairy tales uncut’ as it were. That was why there was really no other first tattoo option for me; I am planning a ‘woodland fairytale scene’ on my other arm as we speak. Seeing Cinderella, which was extremely good indeed thank you for asking, and having the new routine of watching an episode of Once Upon a Time with my breakfast and coffee and sometimes my lunch – the urge for me to read the originals and the new homage’s and the like has come back really strong.

I thought instead of me just asking you for advice on which ones I should look out for, though you all know I am going to ask that later let’s not pretend, I decided I would share with you some fairy tales and fairy tale themed books I have loved and some I have been buying and hoarding and planning to read at some point.

Just a selection from my shelves...

Just a selection from my shelves…

First up are some books that I would really, really recommend and indeed have reviewed. There are of course the originals but you all know about all of them. There have been some wonderful authors who have taken on the fairytales and given them their spin. Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber is one fine example, as is Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales (which do what they say on the tin) and I would highly recommend Sarah Pinborough’s trilogy of Poison, Charm (which I have read but yet to review) and Beauty (which I have yet to read) which give the tales of three princesses a much darker and saucier feel, and cleverly interweaves them all.

If you fancy some new fairytales then you can’t go wrong with the fantastically gothic graphic novel collection of both Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods and Isabel Greenberg’s An Encyclopedia of Early Earth one which will give you the horrors, the other which looks at myths, fairytales and legends and their creation. Then there is the wonderful collection by Viktor and Rolf, which safe to celebrates the campiness of the fairytale, disco hedgehog anyone? Oh and how could I forget the sublime, sublime, sublime Diving Belles by Lucy Wood which is one of my favourite short story collections every and will have you seeing magic, mermaids and witches everywhere when you leave the house.

There is one standout though that both reinvents and invents. With Bitter Greens I think Kate Forsyth, who is actually a Doctor of Fairytales yet who we shall just call Queen of the Fairy Tales for now, has done something incredible that any fairy tale or story lover of any type should read. In it we meet three women all isolated from society for various different reasons, a storyteller locked in a nunnery, a woman locked into getting revenge and a young girl locked in a tower. These women’s tales come together to create a wonderful novel about storytelling, history, and fairytales and of course my favourite tale of all the story tales… Rapunzel. Just read it. I need to read The Wild Girl which I believe looks at the Brothers Grimm themselves and nicely links in to some books I haven’t read yet but have bought.

So what of the books to read?  I didn’t realise this until recently, and now it seems so obvious, but Kate Hamer’s debut about a child abducted The Girl in the Red Coat is one I am itching to read, as is Kirsty Logan’s collection of modern fairytales The Rental Heart. Then there is the series that I have seen lots and lots and lots of people going crazy over, the dystopic Lunar Chronicles which sees Cinderella as a cyborg, Little Red Riding Hood turn detective/street crime fighter and Rapunzel a computer hacker. I. CANNOT. WAIT!

Oh and then there are two nonfiction books I should mention. Once Upon a Time which is Marina Warner’s short history of the fairytale (apparently she is an expert so I might end up wanting her entire backlist) and I am also desperate to read, Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland which comes with the subtitle the tangled roots of our forests and fairytales which I have had on the shelves for far too long and needs to be read.

Phew I think that is enough! As you can see this list is not exhaustive and I am sure there are many, many recommendations you would love to pass onto me. Hint, hint. Has Margaret Atwood not done some fairytales, it will be a crime if not. If you would like to hear Kate Forsyth and I talking fairytales, you can do so here, oh and if anyone would like to be a secret benefactor and send me to Australia to do a doctorate of fairytales and follow in Kate’s footsteps do let me know. Right over to you; which of the above have you read and what would you recommend?

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Fairy Tales – Viktor & Rolf

I have often mentioned how I am a fan of the fairy tale, speaking of which did any of you see the brilliant show The Ladybird Books Story on BBC4 last night, they had a wonderful section on the Well Loved Tales I still have many a copy of. Anyway, back on track Savidge! There is something about this time of year as Christmas is almost upon us that makes me think of the magical (the potential of snow maybe?) and so is a time I turn to fairy tales be they for adults or children. One such collection I read earlier in the year is perfect for anyone of any age and so I thought I would tell you all about Viktor and Rolf’s collection Fairy Tales, which would make an idea stocking filler if you are looking for anything last minute.

Hardie Grant Books, 2011, hardback, fiction, short stories, 144 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

Fairy Tales is not the first foray of fashion designers turned writers, however what is different with Viktor and Rolf’s collection (pun intended) is that this is not a case of the fairy tales we know and love being retold, oh no, these are twelve wonderful original tales that make Viktor and Rolf seem like the modern Brothers Grimm. We have tales of disco hedgehogs, spoilt princesses who need to learn their lesson, planets who pass in the night and much more. My favourite I think had to be about The Little Dragon Butterfly, rather lost in the world and not sure where he fits in which made me feel rather moved and laugh rather loudly within very few pages.

The bees were so angry that they charged straight at the little dragon butterfly. He took one more look at the burning nest and at the swarm of angry bees and flew away as quickly as he could.
As he escaped, he accidentally set a few trees on fire.
‘Go away, you scary little freak!’, the bees called after him. ‘And don’t ever come back!’ The dragon butterfly was now in a real panic. He had no idea what was happening to him.

This theme of being ‘different’ or ‘other’ is probably the most common in the book. We have The Disco Hedgehog who randomly starts to glow multi-coloured and luminous in the night, and very much out of the ordinary and girls such as Doris, or Candy Floss, who is teased for her hair. Yet as we read on Viktor and Rolf show how differences should be celebrated and treated as rather special beauties which we each possess, a lovely motto for anyone young or old especially as it is done with so much fun and not an ounce of being holier than though.

Candyfloss

As you would expect from two fashion designers the book is a thing of beauty and illustrated immaculately throughout the main theme of it all being monochrome and a rather vivid, almost neon, pink. As the stories vary in length sometimes the imagery surrounds the whole story (as above), sometimes it is interwoven with a page of text or takes over two pages at the heart of the tale, and quotes are ribboned throughout the text giving it a luxurious feeling whilst also harking very much to fashion. It is all done beautifully.

There is also lovely modern twist to many of the tales too whilst remaining magical, a deft touch indeed. One of my very favourites being The Fifth Perfume Bottle all about a poor little bottle teased by all the others for being the one that the princess always chooses last, well suffice to say we have all been picked last for something (any ball game at school in my case) but here the little bottle gets the last laugh. Flowerbomb, which is the title of one of the pairs perfumes which they say is ‘all about the power of transformation. The power of every individual to turn anything into something positive’, sums up the very story itself. It is a tale of a dictator who rules with fear someone decides to swap his evil bombs for something much nicer.

Perfume Bottle

All in all Fairy Tales is an absolutely stunning collection, though I do think they should have kept the original name of Sprookjes – amazing. It is a book which will make you laugh rather a lot (especially The One-Day Wonder, all about flies and what they like to hang around in, sure to make young kids giggle along with your inner young self – I know I did), escape into a wonderful series of worlds and just thoroughly enjoy however old you are. Though I think I will have to pack this in my bag for when I go and see some of the (much) younger Savidge’s at New Years as I think really this is a book that should be enjoyed by differing generations of fairy tale lovers, together.

Have any of you read Viktor and Rolf’s collection and if so what did you make of it? Are you a fan of fairy tales or do you think we should grow out of them (if you do I may bar you from this blog, ha!) If you are a fan, which are your favourite fairy tales, be they old, new or retold?

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I’m Sick… But The Cats Are Blogging!

Since the excitement of a few days in London (which I have realised I took almost no photos during) and the rollercoaster thrills and spills of judging the Not The Booker I have come down, quite literally from all those highs, with a really nasty cold. I don’t want to say flu as its not quite there but it isn’t far off. So I have actually been spending more time being grumpy, feeling a bit sorry for myself and listening to audiobooks as my eyes were so sore.

Well, I am still feeling pretty crap but my eye ache has moved to my throat and nose so at least I can read again and this morning I decided I would grab some books of the shelves that would be perfect reads and this was the haul I managed very groggily and swiftly before disappearing into the depths of my duvet once more…

Ill Books

Before we discuss them, yes you’re right that is an ebook in the mix of all of these treats. I have discovered, begrudgingly, another perk in the world of ereaders that if you are stuck in bed and ache too much to do too much a few swipes and there is your next read. Last night I simply couldn’t resist a new Susan Hill ghost story in the form of this ‘Kindle Single’ perfect for the time of year ‘Printer’s Devil Court’. I am very much looking forward to it. As I am also looking forward to reading the next, for me not actually the newest, Agatha Raisin mystery ‘Agatha Raisin and the Curious Curate’ (I have let Agatha for too long). I also have Victor & Rolf’s ‘Fairy Tales’ which sounds amazing with tales like ‘Disco Hedgehog’, Flowerbomb’ and ‘The Fifth Perfume Bottle’. Finally, but by no means last, I thought as the nights are getting darker (well the days are in my sick suite as I have not allowed the curtains to be opened) it was time for some crime and I need to catch up with my favourite duo Rizzoli & Isles. So that should see me through a day or two while I get this out my system.

Now I mentioned the cats were blogging. Well they aren’t blogging here. In fact, as part of a special ‘Cat Day’ in honour of the ‘The Big New Yorker Book of Cats’ they have blogged for Windmill Books and you can see it here. I think they believe that book offers will be flying in. They are acting like they are really chilled about it…

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…But we know the truth. Do have a look at them discussing ‘Living With A Book Lover’, they are quite cute after all, if incredibly naughty for not letting me know a think about it, ha!

Hope all of you are well? What are you reading at the mo? Is it good or bad? Which books do you turn to when you are poorly? How cute are cats reading?

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