Today marks the release day of Once Upon a Happy Ending! I was given an advanced copy, and I haven’t finished it yet, but I particularly loved the Rumpelstiltskin, Goose Girl, and Rapunzel retellings. The stories do contain varying levels of violence and romance, but they all have that promised happy ending.
Just as a reminder, this Friday the other authors and I are hosting a Facebook Live Event! There will be authors on there from morning until evening, but I’ll be on there from 9 am to 11 am Eastern time. (You don’t have to be on the whole time, just check in when you like. And PLEASE check in. I get awkward when I have no one to talk to.)
Now, as many of you know, I absolutely adore taking the original fairytales my stories are based on, and
ripping them apart summarizing them in a post. In celebration of the anthology’s release, today we’re going to take a look at the Dirty Shepherdess–which is the original Grimm Brothers fairy tale I based my story, The Princess Who Chased Sheep, on.
Our story revolves around a clever princess. We know she is clever, even though all evidence points to the contrary, because the Grimm brothers tell us so no less than six times.
One day her father, the king, approaches her and her older sister and asks how much they love him. Her older sister tells the king that he is the apple of her eye. The king is very pleased. When the clever princess tells him she loves him as she loves the salt that seasons her food, the father unexpectedly has a very poor reaction. (I say unexpected because the first daughter also compared him to a food item, but apparently he’d rather be an apple than salt.) The king is so enraged, that he orders the clever princess to leave the palace. He specifies that she is not allowed to take any method of transportation, and she may only take what she can carry.
So the princess dresses in a maid’s uniform, packs a small satchel with a fancy dress and a king’s ransom in jewelry—this is the only time in which I do really think she is clever—and makes her way through her father’s kingdom, searching for work.
Eventually the princess is hired as a shepherdess, and is there for several months before she gets homesick and is struck with the
sudden desire for her old life. Naturally she decides to strip in front of the sheep and dress in her fancy gown with all her jewelry. (Because who wouldn’t think that’s a great idea?) Not long after she changes a prince waltzes through the meadow where the sheep are grazing, and instantly falls in love with her.
The clever princess runs off, and the lovestruck prince is unable to track her down. He goes to the village and asks everybody about the beautiful maiden in the meadow. The villagers laugh at him, and tell him the only female up there is the dirty shepherdess.
The lovestruck prince, thinking some kind of witchcraft is at work, returns home. However, he has fallen so deeply in love with our clever princess, though he has never spoken to her and knows nothing about her, that he begins wasting away and is unable to eat. Eventually he makes a request to have the shepherdess bake a loaf of bread for him. (How he jumped from thinking there was witchcraft at work, to wanting the dirty shepherdess who he has never set eyes on to make him bread, I still don’t know.)
The so-called clever princess decides that when she bakes the bread and kneads it, it would be a splendid idea to wear all of her royal rings. (For anyone who hasn’t ever kneaded bread, it is an incredibly sticky process, and the dough gets all over your hands.)
The lovestruck prince bites into the loaf of bread and almost swallows one of the clever princess’s rings, which came off when she was kneading the dough. (How did she miss that?) The prince, proving to be as equally clever/dim as the princess, declares that he will marry the maiden whose finger fits the ring. (No, he didn’t figure out whose ring it was, as you will see in a moment.)
Maidens come far and wide, but none are able to put the ring on their finger. Eventually the clever princess/dirty shepherdess is called for, and is naturally able to slip the ring on. Mr. Lovestruck-the-Idiot still doesn’t recognize her, but he declares he will fulfill his promise. The clever princess asks for water and a nice dress, and gets all cleaned up. When she appears before the prince and his family, she once again looks like a princess, so the prince flings himself at her feet and begs her to marry him.
She agrees, and after getting permission from her father–who to his credit never ceased to regret his harshness since exiling her–they hold the wedding. The clever princess’s father and sister attend, and during the banquet the clever princess instructs the kitchen servants to serve her father unseasoned food that contains no salt.
When the king makes faces, the clever princess asks him what is wrong, and he explains how tasteless the dishes are. The princess wastes no time in pointing out how delightful salt makes food taste, and yet he grewn angry with her for comparing him to salt. The king repents, embraces his passive-aggressive daughter, and is then given seasoned food which he proclaims to be the best he has ever had.
I really enjoyed this fairy tale as the main component of the story is not the love the prince and princess share, but the love the princess has for her father. I also enjoyed the absolute ridiculousness–like wearing rings when making bread–and I had a really fun time trying to shore up those aspects of the story. It was also quite refreshing because generally any fairy tale that includes cleverness as a component stars a male character. Or a cat as we saw in Puss in Boots.
I hope you check out the anthology—it is available in Kindle Unlimited—and enjoy my retelling! As you probably expect, my lovestruck prince is much smarter than the dunce presented here. Thanks for reading, Champions, and have a great day!