Read The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley Free Online
Book Title: The Door in the Hedge|
The author of the book: Robin McKinley
Loaded: 2814 times
Reader ratings: 4.2
Edition: Greenwillow Books
Date of issue: April 1st 1981
ISBN 13: 9780688003128
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 464 KB
City - Country: No data
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One of the problems with books today is that the literary establishment looks down on genre fiction. If your fiction is fantasy or science fiction or mystery or romance or something else readily classifiable, the thinking goes, it is not literary and therefore inferior. And, of course, modern authors are expected to include any amount of “intimacy” in their novels. So someone like Robin McKinley, who writes fantasy and typically doesn’t get graphic, gets classified as a young adult genre author, which is pretty much the kiss of death as far as “literary critics” are concerned – no matter how good her writing actually is. (She has won a Newbery, though, which counts for a lot.) It’s frustrating.
Anyway, I’m quite fond of genre fiction myself, particularly fantasy and especially retellings of fairy tales, and Robin McKinley is one of my favorite authors. The Door in the Hedge is a collection of four short stories, two of which are retellings of old fairy tales (“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Princess and the Frog”) and two of which could readily be classified as fairy tales themselves* (“The Stolen Princess” and “The Hunting of the Hind”). McKinley is a master of the fairy tale; all four stories feature classic fairy tale imagery and themes. As someone who has unredacted Grimm** on her bookshelf and the whole rainbow of Andrew Lang on her Nook, I LOVE fairy tales and will never get tired of them. I definitely recommend Robin McKinley in general and The Door in the Hedge in particular to fellow fairy tale lovers.
Postscript: A random observation that doesn’t fit anywhere else: The most notable element of these stories is the enhanced role of the female characters (even in “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”; it’s subtle, but it’s there). McKinley is well-known for her dislike of the wilting flower type common in older books (*cough*edgarriceburroughs*cough*), and typically writes strong female characters like Aerin and Harry (short for Angharad). Honestly, as a kid, I never noticed this emphasis – I just thought of Aerin as a hero, regardless of gender. Shouldn’t we all strive to be brave and honest and true, regardless of what dangly bits we do or do not have? And I think McKinley generally feels the same way; unlike Tamora Pierce, McKinley can present a female character without having to constantly remind you that LOOK! A GIRL IS DOING STUFF ONLY BOYS ARE SUPPOSED TO DO! LOOK HOW SUBVERSIVE I’M BEING! (Not that I don’t like Tamora Pierce, but I found the “grrl power” motif in the Lioness Quartet very annoying.)
*The definition of the term “fairy tale” as a literary categorization of the broader genre of “traditional stories” isn’t entirely agreed-upon. Me, I know ‘em when I see ‘em.
**If the wicked stepmother gets forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she falls down dead, it’s unredacted. If she’s given a stern warning and sent to her room to think about what she did, not so much.
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Read information about the authorBorn in her mother's hometown of Warren, Ohio, Robin McKinley grew up an only child with a father in the United States Navy. She moved around frequently as a child and read copiously; she credits this background with the inspiration for her stories.
Her passion for reading was one of the most constant things in her childhood, so she began to remember events, places, and time periods by what books she read where. For example, she read Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book for the first time in California; The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time in New York; The Lord of the Rings for the first time in Japan; The Once and Future King for the first time in Maine. She still uses books to keep track of her life.
McKinley attended Gould Academy, a preparatory school in Bethel, Maine, and Dickinson College in 1970-1972. In 1975, she was graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College. In 1978, her first novel, Beauty, was accepted by the first publisher she sent it to, and she began her writing career, at age 26. At the time she was living in Brunswick, Maine. Since then she has lived in Boston, on a horse farm in Eastern Massachusetts, in New York City, in Blue Hill, Maine, and now in Hampshire, England, with her husband Peter Dickinson (also a writer, and with whom she co-wrote Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits in 2001) and two lurchers (crossbred sighthounds).
Over the years she has worked as an editor and transcriber (1972-73), research assistant (1976-77), bookstore clerk (1978), teacher and counselor (1978-79), editorial assistant (1979-81), barn manager (1981-82), free-lance editor (1982-85), and full-time writer. Other than writing and reading books, she divides her time mainly between walking her "hellhounds," gardening, cooking, playing the piano, homeopathy, change ringing, and keeping her blog.
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