East, by Edith Pattou
They journeyed far and the white bear said, “Are you afraid?”
“No,” she replied. “I am not afraid”
East is a spectacular retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Having not heard of that fairy tale before, I read the the summary of the story off Wikipedia. When I compared the two stories, I found that East had lots of links to the original fairy tale. The beginning was generally the same, but the plot lines of the two stories really started to diverge as Rose begins her journey to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Thus, I feel that East still retains some it’s own unique aspects.
I found Rose to be a very likeable character. She is more adventurous and daring than her fellow siblings which is due to the circumstances of her birth. But what really made me like her was her selflessness. She was willing to go after the White Bear, to uncharted land- even though she knew that the journey was dangerous (and that she could potentially be killed). What about the dresses she made whilst living with the White bear? She loved those dresses, but she still planned to sell them so that her family would not be so poor. She put the needs of those whom she loved before the wants and needs of her own.
The bond between Rose and Neddy was really strong. The two people Rose was closest to in her family was her father and her brother, Neddy. After Rose left, they were the ones who didn’t stop searching for Rose. I found their love for Rose and their determination very sweet.
It had been more than two months since I had left home, and the only clue to Rose’s whereabouts had been from a drunken sot. But it was a slender thread of hope and I clung to it like a drowning man.”
I found all the superstition in this book really intriguing, especially the influence of a person’s birth direction on their personality. I am still amazed at how Rose’s mother managed to give birth to eight children whilst facing eight different directions.
However, there were some parts of this book that I found really strange. During her stay with the White Bear, a stranger would always sleep in the same bed as Rose. Rose allowed a stranger to sleep in the same bed as her. Bear in mind, she doesn’t even know who or what the stranger is. If a stranger slept in the same bed as I did, I would immediately go away and find another bed. This also happened to Rose in the fairy tale, but then again fairy tales aren’t really realistic anyway.
Eventually, Rose encounters the Inuit. She stays with them a bit, and Pattou does talk about their life style and gear… etc. I found this elaboration very very very interesting. I also loved how Pattou thought about the time period, and used names for countries that were from that period. For example, France is Fransk, which sounds quite cool. England is Angelia. I assume it’s because of the Anglo-Saxons? I have no idea, but it is thought-provoking.
Find it on…