Friday

Matchless: A Christmas Story by Gregory Maguire

Matchless is a “reillumination” of Hans Christian Andersen's story The Little Match Girl. This book was originally commissioned by NPR and read by Mr. Maguire on "All Things Considered" on Christmas day 2008.

The story is told in four parts. In it we meet Frederik. Frederik and his mother live in a fishing village. They are poor - have very little food and only one match to help keep them warm. His mother is the queen's seamstress and is constantly being called to rescue the queen from her "iron foot" (or so his mother calls it, since she constantly steps on the hems of her dresses).

Frederik has a vivid imagination and has found a way to entertain himself (while his mother is away) by making a small town out of cardboard boxes, broken bowls and even thread-less spools. This is his way of escaping the bleak reality of his life.

One night while prowling the town for more items for his little town, his path crosses that of the little match girl. If you've read Hans Christian Andersen's tale then you know how that part of the story ends, but Mr. Maguire leads Frederik and you, as the reader, down a path that will have you believing in miracles, the permanence of spirit, and the continuity that links the living and the dead.

Mr. Maguire did a fabulous job intertwining the story of The Little Match Girl (which he leaves mostly intact, except for some very minor details) and that of Frederik. The illustrations are all drawn by him - which alone were a treat. This very short (only 112 pages) story - brings the heartbreaking and desperate tale of The Little Match Girl and suffuses it with a bit of magic, yearning and warmth that will leave you feeling hopeful. This one should be read out loud and savored and, although a bit on the tragic side, it has a timeless feel to it.

I wouldn't say I recommend it to everyone, but for fans of Gregory Maguire, Hans Christian Andersen, or those who like fairytale remakes, this is one you should pick up.

11 comments:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sounds cute. Great review.

Jenn said...

I love Gregory Maguire! I can't wait to read this one and I am definitely adding it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

Tina said...

I like Maguire as well...thanks for the review, Ill have to put this on my TBR

Amy said...

Hm, I'm sort of a fan of Maguire - I think the shortness of this particular work will make it enjoyable for me. Thanks! Now I have 3 books on my to-read-for-the-Christmas-season list!

Veens said...

I have never read a book by this author this sounds good to me :)

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Hmmmm...interesting. I might give it a try for the holiday season. I was morbidly fascinated by the Little Match Girl when I was little. But I couldn't get through Wicked, so that worries me a bit. But if it's short, maybe I'll manage.

Jess - A Book Hoarder said...

I have been curious about this book. Thanks for the review, I think I may have to check it out.

boliyou said...

Your review inspired me to run out and get the book. I'm not a fan of Maguire, but I am a fan of Andersen. I enjoyed the story. Thanks!

Alicia said...

I saw this in Border's the other day but didn't buy it. I've had remorse ever since!

justicejenniferreads said...

At first, I absolutely hated the idea of fairytale remakes, but after reading a few, I have fallen in love with their magical qualities. This sounds like a really great read and I hope that I'll have time to read it over my Christmas break.

alitareads said...

Sounds like a cute book! Why isn't The Little Match Girl ringing a bell for me? I'm going to have to do some research :)

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