The Fairy Tellers by Nicholas Jubber – Book Review

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The Fairy Tellers by Nicholas Jubber – Book Review

The Fairy Tellers
A Journey into the Secret History of Fairy Tales

I received a free copy of this book.
This post contains affiliate links.

Synopsis

Who were the Fairy Tellers?

In this far-ranging quest, award-winning author Nicholas Jubber unearths the lives of the dreamers who made our most beloved fairy tales: inventors, thieves, rebels and forgotten geniuses who gave us classic tales such as ‘Cinderella’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Baba Yaga’.

From the Middle Ages to the birth of modern children’s literature, they include a German apothecary’s daughter, a Syrian youth running away from a career in the souk and a Russian dissident embroiled in a plot to kill the tsar.

Following these and other unlikely protagonists, we travel from the steaming cities of Italy and the Levant, under the dark branches of the Black Forest, deep into the tundra of Siberia and across the snowy fells of Lapland. In the process, we discover a fresh perspective on some of our most frequently told stories. Filled with adventure, tragedy and real-world magic, this bewitching book uncovers the stranger lives behind the strangest of tales.

Review by Stacey

Have you ever wondered where some of the most famous fairy tales came from? If the answer is yes then, The Fairy Tellers is the book for you. Most of us were probably read a fairy tale of two as a child and will know stories such as Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel but most won’t know the origins of these stories. Written by travel-writer Nicholas Jubber he has scoured some far-reaching places to bring you the stories of how these tales came to be classics and so well-known across the world.

The book covers the origins behind these stories including their authors and we begin with a map that shows you where in the world the seven storytellers he has chosen were from, though there are plenty more mentioned within the pages.

Essentially the book is like miniature biographies of these writers and includes some of their stories too, opening with ‘The Tale of the Laughing Princess’ and Giambattista Basile. The author has done plenty of in-depth research to find the true and original tale behind the ones we know today as many have been retold and altered over the years.

What I loved about The Fairy Tellers is how much work the author has put into finding the true meaning. He has travelled far and wide and spoken to numerous people, done meticulous research to put this book together and that comes across strongly on every page. He certainly has plenty of passion for the subject.

Whilst this is an interesting and intriguing read I can’t say it was particularly easy to read given how much information is shared, including about the author’s life too. I did have to have long breaks in between sections just to try to soak some of the facts in, but then I’m not a massive non-fiction reader, so if you are you may just fly through this book, especially if you are a fairy tale lover. It is, however, fascinating and enlightening.

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Nicholas Jubber

Nicholas Jubber has travelled in the Middle East, Central Asia, North and East Africa and across Europe. Along the way, he has worked as a teacher, carpet-washer and even had a stint as a tannery assistant. He has written four previous books, Epic Continent, The Timbuktu School for Nomads, The Prester Quest (winner of the Dolman Travel Book Award) and Drinking Arak off an Ayatollah’s Beard (shortlisted for the Dolman Award). He has written for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Observer, Globe and Mail, Irish Times and BBC History.

 

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