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Friday, August 17, 2007

Why I Abandoned The True Story of Hansel and Gretel Before I Was Even Halfway Through

I made it almost halfway through this one before I had to quit. Don't get me wrong, The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy is well-written and undeniably compelling, but I just couldn't stomach the violent imagery.

The novel begins with a Jewish couple speeding across the Polish countryside trying desperately to outrun the Nazis on their tail. At a hidden bend, they slow their motorcycle only long enough to rush their two children off into the forest. The father urges the kids to head for a nearby village and find a farmer willing to feed them. The children - now dubbed Hansel and Gretel - discover a cottage in the woods, where Magda, the town witch, takes them in. In order to get extra food rations for the children, Magda concocts a story to explain their presence to the Nazis, who control the town. While on this errand, pretty Gretel captures one of the officer's attention, which I assume leads to trouble later on.

The book follows the children's story as well as that of their father and stepmother, who also manage to evade their Nazi pursuers. The couple flees into the woods as well. There, they encounter a ragtag group of men eager to exact revenge on the Nazis and all Poles who aid them. It was when this group hangs a woman out of her bedroom window that I closed the book.

As I said before, the book is well-written and spellbinding. I cared about some of the characters, especially the kids, but not enough to stick with a story that made me sick to my stomach. I have too many books in my TBR pile to force myself to finish this one. If anyone else has read it, let me know what happens to the kids...


  1. This one is intriguing to me based on your description of it...went to my library system only to discover that the county doesn't own a single copy of the thing. Darn. That means more of a search will be involved, but thanks for the heads up.

  2. I couldn't find this one in any library where I live. I finally bought it at Borders, because the premise sounded so interesting. Unfortunately, I took it back to Borders or I would let you have my copy. Sorry :( You should be able to find it at Borders or online.


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