This book is a collection of poetry, and I don’t really know how to review it, or even whether “reviewing” is appropriate for something that is supposed to strike you in a fundamental, visceral way. The poems are all re-imaginings of fairy tales as told by the Brothers Grimm, and Sexton uses the old stories to shed light on modern themes and concerns. For example, here’s the end of “Cinderella”:
Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
The stories are all set in that quasi-medieval fairytale past, which is interestingly juxtaposed with some very modern language. When the witch in “Hansel and Gretel” is cooked in the oven, “Her blood began to boil up / like Coca-Cola.” When the prince in “Cinderella” tries the glass slipper on every maiden in the kingdom, the narrator observes, “The prince was getting tired. / He began to feel like a shoe salesman.”
All in all, this collection didn’t make a huge impact on me, but I would recommend it to people who like poetry and fairy tales. I’d definitely like to read more of Anne Sexton’s work!