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Spinning Straw Into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal about the Transformations in a Woman's Lifeby Joan Gould
Synopses & Reviews
“What’s your favorite fairy tale?” Joan Gould asks in the Introduction to this brilliantly original book about the hidden meanings in fairy tales and what these beloved stories reveal about a woman’s life.
Whether your answer is “Cinderella” (most women’s choice), “Hansel and Gretel,” or another tale, your favorite conveys something significant about you, your experiences, and your soul– something perhaps not obvious to outsiders and possibly not entirely clear to you.
Throughout this illuminating book, Gould delves into the deeper meanings behind fairy tales and myths–helping you to understand not only what your choice of fairy tale may mean for you, but also what you need to be doing during the three main stages of development: maiden, matron, and crone.
“This is a book about women,” Gould writes, “specifically about fairy tales and the way they illuminate the metamorphoses at each stage of a woman’s life: those shifts in consciousness as well as biology that propel women from one level of being to another.” As Gould expertly addresses the transformations many women experience–marriage, childbirth, and widowhood–her keen observations may surprise you, and it is through these revelations, that Gould truly works her magic.
The story of Sleeping Beauty allegorizes the role that waiting plays in the attainment of womanhood; “Rapunzel” illuminates a bride’s ambivalence toward her impending nuptials; “The Seal Wife” acknowledges a mother’s sense of loss of self to the demands of her family. Most poignantly, through the myth of Demeter and Persephone, Gould grapples with the final stage of a woman’s life, the unexpected expansion of a woman’s spirit in old age.
Full of archetypal figures known to us all, this wonderfully perceptive work is also populated with narratives from the lives of ordinary women. These personal stories– of Sleeping Beauties who fell asleep in puberty and awoke ten years later to find themselves married to the wrong man, or the right one–illustrate the rich insights that are to be gained from familiar story figures. Replete with a wealth of wisdom about the private battles and public roles each woman must face in her life, Spinning Straw into Gold explores the choices, demands, and changes a woman must face every day.
"Gould expands on issues raised in her previous volume (Spirals: A Woman's Journey through Family Life) to show how the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel and other folk and modern heroines correspond to the real-life stages of women, from budding adolescence to wise old age, in this original, well-written book. 'Fairy tales tell us that a day comes when we are due to wake up to a new reality, come to life again transformed... with a sense of wonder at how far we've come,' she writes, 'along with a twinge of nostalgia for the person we used to call 'me' but for whom we no longer have a name.' Snow White, Gould suggests, reflects familiar mother-daughter jealousy, while Sleeping Beauty examines a girl's anxiety about the next stage of her life. While Gould concentrates on classic European fairy tales (the Grimm brothers; Charles Perrault), she also examines fairy tale themes in Greek myths (Persephone; Psyche) and popular movies and novels (Pretty Woman; Jane Eyre). Without interrupting the flow of commentary, she also refers to her own transformations as a woman and the perspectives of female acquaintances and family members. With its smooth prose and snappy fairy tale summaries, this book should have broad appeal to women's studies students, folk history buffs and casual readers searching for a better understanding of their own lives. Agent, Harold Ober Associates. (Feb. 22)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
JOAN GOULD’s work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated. The author of Spirals, she lives in Rye, New York.
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