The Compulsive Reader: The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin by Suzanne Weyn

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin by Suzanne Weyn

Bridget O'Malley never anticipated that making a living in New York City as an Irish immigrant would be so hard. Her family is struggling to stay afloat, and consider themselves lucky for the jobs they do have working in J.P. Wellington's household, even if they do have to change their names to avoid persecution.

Bridget, now Bertie Miller, is a seamstress, and her father and brother are coachmen. But when it looks as if the Wellingtons’ business may be in jeopardy, along with the Millers' jobs, Bertie's father tells outrageous lies of Bertie's abilities to turn ordinary fabric into shimmering and fashionable dresses. Bertie is in a state of despair when the mysterious Ray Stalls offers his assistance...and manages to do what Bertie's father claimed. Soon Bertie finds herself caught up between her debt and obligation to Ray, and her one chance to ascend the social ladder and become successful and prosperous.

The Crimson Thread is a sweet and whimsical retelling of Rumpelstilstskin that turns the old tale around completely. It reads more like a historical fiction novel than a fairy tale, and gives a fairly accurate depiction of life for Irish immigrants in New York City along the way, with a dash of the glitz and glamour of the life of the obscenely rich. The pacing of the book is slightly slow at the beginning, but then evens out quickly, making this regrettably short read fly by. The characters are engaging and varied and the magical elements are very light—so much so that it allows readers to speculate as to whether there is any magic at all—but Weyn doesn’t divulge any secrets. She manages to create an air of improbability within the story, mirroring Bertie's own uncertain circumstances, which leaves the reader to always wonder what will happen next. But Weyn doesn’t disappoint and, through some clever wordplay and neat plotting, brings the story together in a romantic and satisfying end.


Lenore Appelhans said...

I immediately added this to my wishlist. Have you read A Curse Dark as Gold? And if so, how does it compare?

Ashley said...

The cover is amazing!

Okie said...

Very cool. It sounds like a "fairy tale retelling" that's more up my alley in terms of being more serious and 'real' (sometimes I like the cheesy and whimsy, but sometimes I wish more would be "historical fiction"-esque).