6th Jun 2011
Living with Feet Too Big for a Glass Slipper by Lynne Tapper
Living with Feet Too Big for a Glass Slipper by Canadian author Lynne Tapper is the first in a series of modern-day parodies set in the imaginary kingdom of It Is What It Is.
It’s intended to be a humorous account of how Princess Innocent finds her Prince Charming while negotiating the hazards of dating, friendship and financial hard times that single women might experience on their way to fulfilling their dream of a happily ever after, a light-hearted morality tale for our times.
Honestly, based on the title I had expected a Bridget Jones-style story, and so the fairy tale style took me by surprise. But while novel initially, after a while I found it exhausting to read and more than a little forced.
There was no room for surprise or delight since all the characters are named after what they are (true to the custom of It Is What It Is) – you know as soon as you meet Prince Bad Boy, for example, what kind of character he’s going to be and how a perilously naïve Princess Innocent will respond.
The only element of wonder for me, was which variation on male bad behaviour she’d personify next, what name she’d give the next inappropriate suitor: Lord Lie-A-Lot, Prince Rescue Me, Baron Booty…
Satire is tricky to pull off at the best of times. It needs to be diamond-sharp to be successful. After the first couple of chapters I felt this story turn to stodge as it took predictable twists and turns.
The characters were too familiar to be humorous and the situations they found themselves too stereotypical to capture the imagination. That cutting edge of wit was lacking for me, compounded by the forced prose that flogged alliteration to within an inch of its life.
All that said, I’d hate to be accused of book snobbery. Yes, the cover of the book was so massively pink I felt embarrassed reading it on public transport, but not everyone feels the need to look pretentious when they’re travelling to work.
If you like light-hearted stories, then this is a fun twist on the classic ‘girl sets out into the world in search of a man, girl gets in trouble, girl gets rescued, girl lives happily ever after’.
There are lessons for the single girl to learn from poor Princess Innocent’s scrapes, and it’s impossible not to see yourself in some of the classic mistakes she makes. In that respect the book is definitely a success.
Recommended for: Sucking the soul out of satire, punching parody in the privates and flaying alliteration for all it’s worth, only read this if you’re a sucker fairy tales. And pink.
Other recommended reading: Try reading the one of the greatest English fairy tale satires, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift or Bluebeard, a modern reworking of classic children’s stories by Angela Carter.