So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Briar Rose. Robert Coover

Briar Rose is the name of the princess in Sleeping Beauty and the name of the Grimm brothers version of the story is Little Briar Rose. Robert Coover tells the story from three points of view. First is the point of view of the prince entering and cutting his way through the briars on a heroic/erotic quest. Then there is the princess dreaming of her rescue by a kiss from the spell induced by a spindle prick and the promised handsome prince who will do the kissing. Lastly, is the evil fairy who cast the spell and who keeps the princess company by telling her stories during her 100 year slumber. The story keeps switching between these three perspectives, with much repetition. Each character explores their own expectations and fears through this process.

This is a story rich in mythic and erotic symbolism, and Coover explores these in depth as each character relives the event in their mind from slightly different perspectives over and over again. As a study in the symbolism and possible overtones of the brief story, Coover's work is excellent. People looking for a romantic retelling of the original tale should definitely look elsewhere because some of the variations include disturbing elements like incest, cannibalism, adultery, and rape. While nowhere near as much an erotic fantasy as Anne Rice's three volume Beauty series, this book is still not appropriate for the faint of heart or children.

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