I’m delighted to say my novelette, Beauty’s Sister, which was published as a digital-only Penguin Special last year is now available as a nifty orange Penguin paperback. You can see the rather lovely cover on the right (I know it’s been said before, but the orange Penguin livery is one of the truly great pieces of design), and if you’re in Australia you should also be able to buy it at your local bricks and mortar bookshop (elsewhere you’ll have to check out online retailers or buy it in digital form for Kindle, iBooks,Google Play, or Kobo (or for Kindle in the UK)).
As the blurb below explains, ‘Beauty’s Sister’ is a reworking of ‘Rapunzel’, but along with ‘Catspaw, or The Rakshasa’s Servant’, it’s also one of a series of “tales” I’ve been working on over the past year or two. At some point they’ll hopefully form a cycle of some kind, but for now I’m just enjoying exploring the things they let me do with magic and fables.
Anyway, the blurb is below. If you’d like to buy a copy check out your local bookshop or take a look on Booko. And as I said above, if paper is no longer your thing you can also buy it for for Kindle, iBooks,Google Play, or Kobo (and for Kindle in the UK)).
“A story of jealousy, passion and power, Beauty’s Sister is a dark and gripping reimagining of one of our oldest tales, Rapunzel, from acclaimed novelist James Bradley.”“Juniper, living deep in the forest with her parents, is stunned to discover that the beautiful girl living isolated in a nearby tower is her sister. When the two girls meet, what begins as a fascination and a friendship ultimately develops into something truly sinister.
I hope you like it. I’m thrilled it’s now in paperback.
It’s taken a while, but the Penguin Specials editions of my Rapunzel novelette, ‘Beauty’s Sister’, and my essay about Adelaide, adolescence and serial murder, ‘The Element of Need’, are now available in the UK. At the moment they’re only available for Kindle, but iBook and Google Play editions should be available soon, and as soon as they are I’ll post links. I understand they should be available in the US reasonably soon as well.
Both cost £1.99. You can buy the UK edition of ‘The Element of Need’ here and the UK edition of ‘Beauty’s Sister’ here.
Australian readers can download copies of ‘The Element of Need’ for Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play, and Beauty’s Sister’ for Kindle, iBooks, Kobo and Google Play.
I’m delighted to announce my story ‘Beauty’s Sister’ has been selected as one of the first four pieces for Penguin’s Shorts program, which launches today.
Designed to offer quality fiction and non-fiction able to be read in a single sitting in digital-only formats, Penguin Shorts are also an attempt to create a space in which new and established writers can experiment with work that’s too short for a book and too long for a magazine. The number of works available will grow over time, but for now there are four titles available: two exclusive short works from Women of Letters curators Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire, Nam Le’s story, ‘Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice’ and ‘Beauty’s Sister’. Full details of all the titles are available on the Penguin Shorts website.
‘Beauty’s Sister’ is a bit of a departure for me. A reworking of Rapunzel, it’s the first of a collection of tales I’ve been working on (and which I’ll hopefully find a way to publish in the next year or so). It’s also a bit more substantial than the other pieces I’ve published recently – in SF/Fantasy terms it’s a novelette – but I think it whips by all the same.
You can read the blurb below, but if you’d like to grab a copy it’s available for Kindle, iBooks, Google Play and Kobo.
“Juniper, living deep in the forest with her parents, is stunned to discover that the beautiful girl living isolated in a nearby tower is her sister. When the two girls meet, what begins as a fascination and a friendship ultimately develops into something truly sinister.
“A story of jealousy, passion and power, Beauty’s Sister is a dark and gripping reimagining of one of our oldest tales, Rapunzel, from acclaimed novelist James Bradley.”
I’ve been reading Maria Tatar’s Annotated Brothers Grimm, which takes a number of the Grimm’s tales and explores their various incarnations, histories and interpretations. It’s a fascinating book in its own right (and a strikingly beautiful one, with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane and George Cruikshank, amongst others) but one of the highlights is A.S. Byatt’s introduction.
Of course Byatt’s written about fairy tales before, as well as rewriting a few, and exploring the social context and cost of such tales and their celebration in her remarkable 2009 novel, The Children’s Book. But her introduction to the Tatar is particularly interesting, not least because of its invocation of the work of Max Lüthi:
“The best single description I know of the world of the fairy tale is that of Max Lüthi who describes it as an abstract world, full of discrete, interchangeable people, objects, and incidents, all of which are isolated and nonetheless interconnected, in a kind of web of two-dimensional meaning. Everything in the tales appears to happen entirely by chance – and this has the strange effect of making it appear that nothing happens by chance, that everything is fated.”
I assume the book Byatt’s referring to is Lüthi’s The European Folktale: Form and Nature, which explores this precise quality, and which is itself a pretty remarkable document. But whether it is or not, she’s right: along with the sense that they are accessing something dreamlike and below the level of language, much of the unsettling (and beguiling) power of fairy tales arises from their weird inversion of the normal processes of fate and coincidence. Indeed I’d go so far as to suggest that this inversion is effective at least in part because it reminds us of how the world must appear to children, for whom everything is full of mystery and hidden meaning, and for whom adults must seem both purposeful and frighteningly capricious.