Today is the day, A Goose Girl–book 1 in the multi-author Entwined Tales series–is available for purchase, or to read in KU! (Reminder: it’s a novella, so it is the same length as a King Arthurs story!) To celebrate the release–and to keep myself from blurting out spoilers–I’m going to go over the original fairy tale in today’s post!
The Goose Girl, as many of the fairy tales I’ve retold, was first recorded by the Brothers Grimm, and was published in 1815. Although the goose girl is the specific Brothers Grimm version, there’s actually so many stories/variants like it, it has it’s own “Type.” (Sort of the way Sleeping Beauty and the Wild Swans have sooooo many variants as well.) A similar version of the story is “the Golden Bracelet.”
But on to the fairy tale–hold one, this one gets weird. (Also, warning, it is pretty gory.)
So there’s an old queen who has a daughter–a beautiful princess who is promised to a prince in a far away kingdom. When the time comes, the queen sends the beautiful princess off with a huge dowry/amount of money because she loves her daughter so much. (She loved her so much, in fact, that the only escort she sent with the princess was a chambermaid. Yeah. I don’t buy it!)
Before the girls set off the queen gives the princess a handkerchief with three drops of her blood on it, and tells her daughter it will be of service to her. (No explanation is given for this. I’m assuming there is some kind of symbolism that is lost to us due to the massive culture shift. At least I hope so, because GUARDS would have been a far more practical gift…)
The princess and the chambermaid travel for a while, until the princesses gets thirsty and tells the chambermaid to go fetch her some water. The chambermaid tells her to do it herself, which the princess does with a lot of melodrama. (The princess is sad because she can’t be bothered to get fetch her golden cup for herself so she has to lie down on the ground and drink–because also there is apparently something wrong with her arms so she can’t LIFT THEM TO HER FACE. Then the drops of blood on the cloth tell the princess her mother’s heart would break in two if she saw her now–good times all around.)
This happens again, but this time when the princess leans over the water she drops her handkerchief into the stream and loses it. Next–and this is a direct quote from the original–“…the chambermaid saw what happened, and she rejoiced to think that she now had power over the bride, for by losing the drops of blood, the princess had become weak and powerless.”
…Okay, okay, in my research I uncovered several reasons for why this was a big deal, but if you don’t do the cultural research this is truly a “what the heck just happened?” moment. I’ll be going into it with my next post, but for now just try to roll with it.
So because the princess is “powerless” now, the chambermaid orders her to swap clothes and horses, and forces her to vow that she will say not one word of this to anyone at the royal court or she will be killed on the spot. (How you ask? No idea.) The chambermaid then rides Falada–the princess’ horse who can apparently talk(??)– to the kingdom.
When they arrive the chambermaid is greeted as the princess and is taken up into the castle while the real princess is left standing in the courtyard like an idiot. (I know she has taken the vow and everything, but seriously, girl, standing around was the most helpful thing for your situation that came to your mind?)
The king (NOT the prince!) notices the princess in the courtyard and sees that she has surprisingly beautiful features, so he asks the chambermaid about her. The maid lies and says she’s a random girl she picked up as a traveling companion, and that the king should give her work to do. So the king sends her to tend to the royal geese with the goose boy, Little Conrad. (That’s actually the name given to him in the fairy tale!)
Meanwhile, the maid/false princess gets nervous about Falada, and fearing that he might tell everyone the truth (Honestly, the fact that horses can talk in this story might be the least weird thing about it.) she has him killed.
So the princess-turned-goose-girl hears about this, and asks the guy who slayed Falada if he would stuff the horse’s head and nail it above the gate she passes through every morning while taking the geese out. Whenever she passes by the horse head, it repeats a line very similar to the one recited by the drops of blood on the handkerchief.
Little Conrad notices the exchange, just as he notices that the princess has gorgeous gold hair that she unbinds and brushes whenever they’re SUPPOSED TO BE WATCHING GEESE! He wants to pluck a few of her hairs for himself (I would too if she was supposed to be helping me and instead sat on her rear brushing her hair) but when he tries to do so the princess tells the wind to blow Conrad’s hat so he’ll chase it until she’s done with her beauty routine. AND THE WIND LISTENS. (Say whaaaat?)
This also happens twice before Little Conrad loses his temper and tells the king he can’t work with the princess/goose girl, and then relays the entire story. (Good on you, Little Conrad, for having excellent communication skills!)
The king calls for the princess/goose girl, who says she has taken a vow so she cannot tell anyone. The king then tells that, if that is the case, she should pour out her sorrows to an iron stove and then walks away. The princess does so, not knowing that the King had hurried around to the stove’s vent, so he can hear everything she says. When the full story is told the King dresses her in royal clothes, summons his son and tells him everything that has happened–and as it goes in many fairy tales, the prince sees her beauty and falls in love with the princess on the spot–and throws a party.
The chambermaid attends the party, but doesn’t recognize the princess in her splendor. (Maybe she’s related to Cinderella’s prince?) So the king questions the chambermaid, and asks her what should happen to a servant who betrays their master.
The maid tells the king the servant deserves to be stripped naked, placed in a barrel studded with nails, and dragged through the streets by horses. The king essentially tells her “You are the betrayer, and so this will be done to her,” and just as he promises it is done.
…but then the princess and shallow prince marry and live happily ever after! Yaaaaayy!
If you want to read a retelling that is really true to the original–without making it seem quite so unbelievably/weird, I highly recommend Shannon Hale’s “Goose Girl.” Despite the base material, it’s a beautiful retelling of the story, and my absolute favorite version. But that’s all for today, Champions! I hope you enjoy A Goose Girl–if you would review it on Amazon or Goodreads I would really appreciate it! Until the next post, have a lovely week!