Sunday, May 13, 2018

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner; narrated by Juliet Stevenson (2005, 2006)

When I originally read this in 2009, I came away enchanted.  I thought it was beautifully written and loved the book.  Listening to it on audio nine years later, I’m more unsure.  Juliet Stevenson is a strong narrator, with a soothing, gentle voice.  But I wasn’t as gobsmacked on the second reading.   The story is a Cinderella derivative, something I wasn’t paying attention to the first time I read it. I liked the Cromwellian Commonwealth period that serves at the backdrop of the story, which at times Gardner made seem quite unusual and in stark contrast to our own time.  The fairy aspect of the story was great too; I loved that.  But whenever we left the “real” world to enter the world of fairy, my interest waned.  I felt like fairy was just a medieval version of our own world, and the descriptions just didn’t do the world justice; I also did not like the romance between Coriander and the fairy prince.  It felt out of place, and to be honest, I didn’t even remember that part from the first time I read it.  Something about that first reading washed over me that just didn’t happen this time.  It was still a good book, just not the great book I remembered.


I, CorianderI, Coriander by Sally Gardner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Strong narration by Juliet Stevenson and a sweet, somewhat unusual Cinderella story. Gardner’s setting of Cromwellian England is occasionally shows the stark constrast between “now and then” and the consequences of not being a Puritan. Coriander is a beautifully written character as well, brought to life by Stevenson’s aural storytelling; most of Gardner’s other characters are vivid s well. But I found myself bored by a romantic aspect of the plot, which took up unnecessary space in an otherwise good story; this book felt like it had three endings, and I kept wondering if Gardner wasn’t quite sure where and when to stop. Still worth a listen though, particularly if you like historical fiction and fantasy combined.


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