2016-02-14

rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
One of my treasured possessions as a child was my complete works of Hans Christian Anderson, and I know I read and reread the Snow Queen story in it several times.  This retelling by T Kingfisher is wonderful and absorbing; I half want to go reread the original to pin down the differences (because time has dulled my memory) and half want not to, because it won't be as good.  There are multiple(!) no-nonsense grandmothers, a raven with a decided viewpoint on the world and his place in it, and some delightful otters.  And the dreams of plants turn out to be surprisingly important.

It also made me cry, for personal reasons almost entirely unrelated to the plot.  In this passage, Gerda and Janna (the bandit girl) are talking with Livli, an old Sámi woman, about a magic shapechanging reindeer skin.


Janna interrupted her thoughts by asking, "What if I wear the skin instead?"

"Can’t,” said Livli. “Oh, I’m sure you’d try, don’t get me wrong. But you’re too set in your own skin. You’re a healthy young animal and you know it. And people who really live in their own flesh and know it and love it make lousy shapechangers.”

“I…well. But Gerta doesn’t?”

Livli shook her head. “Some people don’t. Their bodies carry them around, but they don’t live in them quite the same way.” 

She leaned over and patted Gerta’s hand. “Don’t look so stricken, dear. It’s not a personal failing. And I think there may be something else at work here, too. You’re outside your own skin even farther than you ought to be. Have you had a long illness recently?”

 

I had to stop reading for a bit, because I hadn't even realised that I was feeling a disconnection with my body, and that it was bothering me, until I read it put into words about someone else entirely.  I don't always love my body, but I do normally live right inside it and know it well (which is why I knew something was wrong even before I got really ill), and I've been a bit detached for some time, and I hadn't even realised and it explains ... oh all sorts of little things about how I'm recovering, and how even with habitual self-monitoring I'm frequently surprised by feeling Suddenly Energetic or Suddenly Tired.

So I stopped reading for a bit and had a bit of a cry at my revelation (and a bit more for having had cancer in the first place because apparently now is when I do that, not when it was happening) and then I went back to the book until I'd finished it.  It was worth it.

rmc28: Photo of cover of Penguin edition of Watership Down, by Richard Adams (watership)
As things turned out, Hazel and Pipkin did not come back to the Honeycomb until the evening.


[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]


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rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
Rachel Coleman

April 2017

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