In this exceptionally well-crafted tale, Coriander tells the story of her childhood in seventeenth-century London, and of her discovery that she has inherited magical powers from her mother, who was a fairy princess. But her mother's sudden death brings on a dark time for Coriander, and after mourning her beloved mother and dealing with the disappearance of her father and the wrath of her evil stepmother, Coriander finds herself locked in a chest with no hope of escape and no will to survive. But when a bright light beckons to her, it is then that Coriander's journey truly begins. Beautifully written, this magical and luminous story is destined to become a children's classic.
Sally Gardner grew up and still lives in London. Being dyslexic, she did not learn to read or write until she was fourteen and had been thrown out of several schools, labeled unteachable, and sent to a school for maladjusted children. Despite this, she gained a degree with highest honors at a leading London art college, followed by a scholarship to a theater school, and then went on to become a very successful costume designer, working on some notable productions.
After the births of twin daughters and a son, she started first to illustrate and then to write picture books and chapter books, usually with fairytale- or otherwise magical subject matter. She has been called 'an idiosyncratic genius' by London’s Sunday Times.
A splendid, enthralling, magnificent, gripping tale on transporting between the human and the fairy-tale realms. I, Coriander by Sally Gardner is a beguiling fairy tale set in England.
Coriander, our protagonist is a young, naïve yet energetic, resolute girl who is born and bred by a father who belongs to the world of humans and a mother who belongs to the world laden with mysteries.
Her mother's fairy-tale existence forms the backbone of our protagonist's story. Coriander becomes despondent, grappling hard-hitting times as her mother dies under mysterious circumstances. The major episode between her mother and Coriander is about coveting a pair of silver shoes, which her mother keeps putting off for reasons unfolded later as the plot progresses.
Till this point, the book holds a caring, nurturing tone yet hinting at clouds of darkness constantly clinging around Coriander.
Post her mother's demise, her father re-marries an atrocious Puritan female who adheres perfectly to the title of an "evil stepmother". Coriander, faces reversal of fate, from an endearing mother to an outrightly vicious stepmother.
The prelude to her transportation to the fairy tale world is when her stepmother along with her diabolical zealous Puritan minister friend, chops off her lovely mane , and ends up locking her in the closet for three years.
It is here in the closet, Coriander enters the parallel magical world. In this world she is endowed with the task to save her mother´s shadow from the evil Queen Rosemore. It is here where she is introduced to evildoers and various other characters, and she heroically fights out dressed like a man, galloping in the forests. It is in this magical journey, she finds her love in her Prince Charming. But will she be able to stay with the love of her life or will she opt out for being a responsible daughter ? For getting the answers, better read the book! NB - Her step-sister Hester is a perfect portrayal of timidness, innocence and fragility. The bond between the step-sisters Hester and Coriander is likeable! I personally devoured the innocent sweet love-story of Hester and Gabriel, the tailor's apprentice.
Many may not find it relatable and find the plot hither-tither, but it perfectly worked for me. The victory of good over evil amidst various twists and turns, is what makes I, Coriander.
This book is magnificent, really. I am in awe of Sally Gardner, who didn't even learn how to read or write until she was 14 due to dyslexia! She sure showed all the people that wrote her off, didn't she?
This is a fairy tale...the story is lovely and lyrical and SO well written. It was at times hilarious...and other times, gut-wrenchingly horrifying. The evil stepmother is taken to a whole new level in Maud Leggs and Arise Fell.
The storyline with the prince isn't very well developed, but that is because Coriander is the true heroine of the story. She saves him this time around! It didn't bother me at all that he wasn't in the majority of the book.
Anyway...if you like fantasy and fairy tale retellings at all, you will love this book! I can only hope you will be half as entranced as I was.
I, Coriander is a fairy story set in Puritan England. Coriander is a young girl befallen on hard times--her mother passes away, her father is driven out by her evil stepmother and the rise of Oliver Cromwell ('cause he's a Royalist), and her stepmother's crazy Puritan zealot friend is out to get her. At one point, they even cut off all her hair and lock her in a cupboard, leaving her in there for three years. Except she went to fairyland, so it's all okay. Yup, Coriander is one of those characters who suffers impossible circumstances, which was a bit of a drag.
This wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't a particularly interesting or memorable book either. The writing flowed, and Coriander's voice was easy to follow. Still, I prefer my fairy stories with a bit more nuance. You see, in I, Coriander, all of the bad guys are evil and meet their appropriate tidy end. Coriander's unwanted suitor is also an arrogant jackass. I did like Coriander's stepsister, Hester, who is a sweetie pie (steadfastly noble and good, of course), and I liked her relationship with Gabriel, the tailor's apprentice. But all of the characters were kind of one-note, and this book also has the most irritating kind of romance--the inexplicable attraction kind.
Coriander never makes any difficult moral choices, and good vs evil is pretty easily delineated. Maybe this is why this book reads so young, even though Coriander is a late teen by the end.
A cross between a historical novel and a fairy tale. This young reader's novel has been compared to Cinderella But to me it also has similarities with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. Beginning during the English Civil War of the 1640s Coriander is the child of a rich silk merchant and mother who is kindly 'cunning woman' and healer. Her mother dies and her father has to flee when accused of treason she is saddled with an evil step mother, Maud, who is fanatical Puritan and an even more diabolical zealous Puritan minister Arise Fell. Her ally is her nurse Miss Danes and Maud's battered and abused daughter. Hester Arise locks in her in a closet and leaves her to die but she is then is then transported to a magical fairy world - a parallel world and things slowly come together as she is introduced to some good people on both worlds who will help her fight the cruel evildoers. Beautifully brings to life the smells, sights, sounds and actions and beliefs of 17th century England and also a wonderfully magical and enchanting fairy world Quite riveting and compelling.
I picked this up at Books of Wonder on the strength of the lovely cover. Unfortunately, the contents didn't live up to it. Though I liked elements of the plot -- wherein the heroine is torn between her everyday life in Cromwell's England and the fairy world her mother came from -- it was often muddled, and the characterization was very shallow. Plus, there was a disturbing tendency to indicate goodness or badness by appearance: pretty much everyone who was fat, ugly, or otherwise unattractive was evil, and of course the heroine was beautiful and all her friends and family attractive. Oh, and nearly all Puritans are evil. Definitely not recommended.
While this book was a very unique and frequently well-written story, I did not enjoy it. The more the book went on, the more convenient things became. By the end all I could think of was "what the heck?" The plot surrounds young Coriander Hobie, who at age six disobeys her mother and puts on a pair of silver shoes that transport her to another world. Upon returning, her mother dies, an evil step-mother appears, and her Father disappears. Sounds like a perfect Cinderella set-up. But it isn't! I, Coriander is many things, but not a retelling of Cinderella, despite the initial similarities. Worldview Class is going to be the death of my reading pleasures, because honestly, all I could think about were the inconsistencies in this book. For example, Coriander's Father at the beginning comes across strongly as disbelieving in God, magic, fairies, you name it. Yet he for some reason believes he will "see his wife again". With one half an exception, every "Christian" (if you would stoop to calling them that) in this book is a horrible, mean, evil person. Almost without exception. It is the "unbelieving" who are the sane, the devout who are the villains. Yet how can there be this strong disbelief in...magic..if the underlying themes of this book is that it exists? It just doesn't add up! The plot also gets theatrical. At one point, Coriander (who has NEVER ridden a horse before!) is galloping around the forest, dressed like a man, and with her hair "tumbling back". She fights bad guys and does all this other stuff, most dramatically. Lots of characters are introduced...and ignored. What happens to them? Nobody knows. The romance was way to conveniently tied up. Most of the plot is conveniently tied up. The writing, while pretty, frequently got annoying. So there. Nice premise, but I didn't like it that much.
"Kći trgovca svilom" (a zašto je originalni naslov "Ja, Korijander" izmenjen u naslov koji em nema veze sa radnjom em je dovoljno generički da o njegovom tipu 'Kći ovoga-ili-onoga' ima čitav članak?* Nikad nećemo saznati, ali vidim da su i Italijani za svoj prevod uzeli ovu verziju) je dečja istorijska fantastika, odnosno - istorijski roman o Kromvelovoj diktaturi plus fantasy pod jakim uticajem Džonatana Strejndža i g. Norela. I to bi bilo super, a roman počinje lepo i zanimljivo, ali ubrzo prosto kljokne pod teretom neverovatno malodušne karakterizacije. Negativci su bezrezervno zli i prepoznajemo ih po tome što su ružni, debeli i/ili grbavi. Pozitivci su prijatnog izgleda do lepi. Radnju pokreću do imbecilnosti glupe odluke pozitivnih likova. Takođe: naklonost spisateljice prema rojalistima je vrlo očevidna - što je sasvim legitimno sve do samog raspleta (pa ću prećutati šta je tad ispalo iz zgloba). Sve ovo ne znači da nema i dobrih stvari. Roman je pun zaista prekrasnih slika sedamnaestovekovnog Londona i ima nekoliko istinski bajkovitih, atmosferičnih momenata u vilinskoj zemlji. Devojčice od recimo 10-12 godina verovatno će biti oduševljene vezenim svilenim haljinama, srebrnim cipelicama i čarobnim škrinjama od abonosa, ali će starijima već zasmetati plošni likovi. (Ili neće.)
A very different book! The cover and the description of it make it seem like it's for younger readers, a magical story about a girl with magical slippers. It's not! It's a very fascinating, multi-faceted tale about life in London during Cromwell's revolution, with its passionate politics and literal witch hunts. It's a story about fairies, and witches, friendship and love, evil preachers, charlatans, tailors, and spies. During the course of the book, Coriander ages from a naive nine to being a young woman of marriageable age, as well, sometimes in the blink of an eye!
This is really just under a four. Woulda been a solid 4, but the ending knocked it back to 3.5 territory.
Sally Gardner pulled no punches in I, Coriander. Her Cromwell-era England is harsh and full and the perfect backdrop to the very dark - and very darkly human - tale she tells. No one's life is simple or all that pretty in the book, but Coriander's is made even less so upon the arrival of her strictly religious stepmother, Maug Leggs, and Maud's...'preacher' Arise Fell. Maud is pretty damn bad, but Arise Fell is one of the most disturbing characters I've ever read in a kids book, maybe in any book. He is completely repugnant and utterly fascinating. Together, they are so throroughly creepy and villainous that your skin kinda crawls when they enter a scene, adding this great sense of threat and malice and tension to the story. But the best thing (or the worst)? They are believable. These are not over the top and unrealistic villains that yeah, may be scary, but are also utterly ridiculous. No, Gardner created two people who could easily be found on the front page of the news, or in a segment on 20/20. They are creepy and awful and utterly human in it. It's scary. And it can make for a very dark read, so if you don't like that or are sensitive to some things...be warned.
But the beauty of the story? Coriander. She never gives up or loses who she is. When Arise Fell arrives and introduces her to his hands of "Wrath" and "Salvation" things get decidedly dark for Coriander -- and yet, she refuses to give up who she is. She fights to keep her self and her identity, and she actively seeks out ways to make things right. That's so powerful for a young girl to be doing in any time, but especially in Coriander's time, and that's what makes it such a potentially powerful story for young girls. Yes, it is dark, but the fact is, there are plenty of girls who go through similar things, and seeing someone triumph can only be good.
I think, too, that Gardner's use of history is genius. The tale is perfectly suited to the narrow, suspicious, dangerous times it's set in. The setting just really works for the tale, and Garnder uses enough of the history to make it come alive and give it a sense of place, but not so much that it ever start to feel like a history lesson. Her Cromwellian England is almost tangible; I could have wished for a little more of the faerie world, but in the end, I think it kind of works as is on that score.
The only thing I really had a problem with was the ending, and some of the plot-device-y-ness of some aspects. The resolution was far too quick for my liking, and I definitely needed more of the prince and that whole story line. A big part of the reason I felt this was rushed, though, is that Coriander takes great leaps in age through the story, and I needed more from that. Every time she enters the faerie world, no matter how brief it may seem to her, she finds herself aged a few years upon her return to England. This is in keeping with mythology, and I am fine with it in its way - and even as a plot device - except it left me with questions. Like, if Coriander has aged from say 8 to 16 over a few successive trips that have only equaled say 2years at the utmost in England...setting aside the problems that would cause back in Cromwell times, it left me with questions about Coriander, mentally. Does her mind age too? Does her maturity level increase along with her growth? Is she essentially a different Coriander over night, without knowing how it happened, or who she has become? Because if so, yes, it's a little strange, and would have some serious ramifications - but if not, then the WHOLE BIT with the prince suddenly becomes hella creepy. Just saying, if Cinderella featured an 8 year old girl who just looks like a pretty teen about to marry a prince, I don't think it would be nearly the popular story that it is... And whether her mind did age or not, the age jumps happen so suddenly that it's hard for the reader to shift their mind to the new Coriander, and it left me feeling like an 8 year old was being wooed by a prince... Uncomfortable-making, to say the least.
That being said, I don't think it is meant to be creepy, or even that it reads creepy. It's more one of those things you notice on reflection and are like, WTF? But I did thoroughly enjoy myself reading this, and think Gardner has a pretty good talent for crafting a world and a story, and not being afraid of darker elements, which I always appreciate. I, Coriander has elements of the Cinderella tale, and a definite fairy tale-esque feel throughout, but it is certainly its own story, and suitable to those who don't like fairy tales just as much as those who do, and in the end, I would recommend it with only slight caveats.
Set in England in the 1600 during the time of Oliver Cromwell rule it is also set in a magical place where evil reigns. Coriander is the main character and when horrible people come into her life it is a fight for survival and it is going to take all her courage to fight in both realms.
Coriander es la hija de un rico mercader que vive junto al Támesis. Su madre Eleanor es una mujer sabia que ayuda a quienes lo necesitan con remedios naturales, hierbas y pociones. No es exactamente una bruja, pero tampoco es exactamente humana. Pero eso Coriander no lo sabe, solo sabe que su padre conoció a su madre tras haber sido amable con un desconocido y se casó con ella ese mismo día. Cuando Coriander celebra su sexto cumpleaños, unos misteriosos zapatos plateados justamente de su talla aparecen en la casa. Pero su madre le pide que no los toque siquiera. La niña desobedece y se los pone sin que nadie lo sepa… en la celebración de su fiesta junto al río, algo misterioso sucede y la niña por poco muere ahogada. En ese momento un misterioso cuervo y una vieja la miran como si la conocieran.
Pocos años más tarde Eleanor muere y la familia se destruye. El padre, roto por el dolor y el miedo al puritanismo de los seguidores de Cromwell se casa con una viuda puritana y todo tipo de cosas malas comienzan a suceder. Papá desaparece, su madrastra la maltrata a ella y a su propia hija, las pertenencias de su madre tienen que ser escondidas para que la señora no las encuentre… y por si fuera poco aparece un párroco extremista puritano aun más cruel que la madrastra, que encierra a Coriander en un cajon durante años. Pero en lugar de morir, Coriander viaja la reino de las hadas…
Estoy segura que con 10-14 años hubiera disfrutado muchísimo más de este libro. Al fin y al cabo es el rango de edad al que va dirigido. Me ha encantado el libro. Está claro que me ha faltado un poquito más de tensión o quizás, tension de otro tipo o con otro enfoque. Para un adulto queda algo flojo y sin embargo, como ya decia, no tiene pegas para los lectores que se inician en la fantasía y el realismo mágico. Lo tiene todo: peligro, emocion, sueños, una protagonista genial, con unos amigos fantásticos, criaturas mágicas, historia… Es tan sólo que un adulto cuestiona cosas, como la muerte de la madre como recurso narrativo, que un lector más joven no le da importancia. Es normal, es un libro dirigido a ellos, a los más jóvenes. Aun así, es una delicia de historia y se disfruta muchísimo a cualquier edad.
Born in 1643 to a wealthy London merchant and his beautiful wife, Coriander Hobbie was raised in a loving and affectionate home, knowing only happiness until the day a mysteriously alluring pair of silver shoes was delivered to her house beside the Thames. This strange gift, which her mother refused to allow her to wear, introduced the first note of disquiet into Coriander's life, and was the beginning of a series of strange events that would bring her great heartache, and involve her in dangerous adventures in both the mortal world and in the fairy world existing alongside it. Having lost her mother early in the book, Coriander moves back and forth between the two worlds, contending with an abusive and scheming Puritan stepmother - the horrible Maude Leggs, ugly, ignorant, and shrill, is seen as a wise choice for her father, whose Royalist sympathies had put him at risk from the repressive forces of the Commonwealth - her stepmother's maniacal preacher friend, Arise Fell; and the evil Fairy Queen Rosmore, whose cunning schemes are all aimed at stealing the powerful shadow that once belonged to Coriander's mother...
This work of historical fantasy, which alternates between Commonwealth and Restoration England, and a magical fairy world existing alongside our own, was chosen as the October selection for The Children's Fiction Book-Club to which I belong, and I am very happy to have finally read it, as I have owned a copy since it was first published in 2005. That said, while I found I, Coriander an enjoyable read in many ways - I thought the writing itself was lovely, and that Coriander made for an engaging heroine - it had some significant problems. From a storytelling perspective, I thought the sections of the book that occurred in the mortal world were far more convincing than those that occurred in the fairy world. Rosmore, for all that she is the true author of Coriander's misery, is never as fully realized a character as Maud, while Coriander's romance with had a distinctly tacked-on feeling to it, when compared to the relationship between Hester and Gabriel Appleby.
Unfortunately, while Maud Leggs and Arise Fell were marvelously realized villains, from the storytelling perspective - just the sort of repulsive characters one loves to hate! - their depiction raises troubling questions of historical inaccuracy and bias. I have no quarrel with a critical depiction of the Puritans - they were often zealots, bringing persecution to bear upon those with whom they disagreed, and their notion of culture (what was and wasn't 'godly') was appalling - but Gardner's aim is more than a little off here, potentially leaving young readers with some mistaken ideas. Like many other Reform-based Protestant sects (as opposed to both Catholics and Anglicans of this period), the Puritans placed great emphasis on the individual's relationship with the divine, unmediated by the clergy. To encourage this, they promoted education - the idea being that everyone should be able to read the Bible for themselves - and female literacy rose under their aegis. The exact opposite impression is created in the story, however, through the depiction of Maud and Arise, and their hostility toward women learning. Similarly, although the Puritans arose in response to a worldview every bit as repressive as their own, this is not the impression created by the story at all, which leaves readers with the impression that the monarchy (jubilantly welcomed back at the end of the book) was somehow benevolent.
I don't know that these glaring errors really ruined the book for me - although I did laugh out loud, when reading the historical afterword, to see Quakers described as a 'radical sect' and classified with the Puritans! - but then, I feel equipped to perceive them. It troubles me that young readers, perhaps not as informed about this period, might not be. For this reason, I really wavered in my rating. Three stars represents my enjoyment of the writing. If I were rating for historical accuracy, on the other hand, I might give the book only one.
This was a lovely little fairy-tale story. I can just imagine reading this to little girls, who will inevitably beg for just one more chapter before having to go to bed. It's so easy to imagine said little girls dreaming of being a fairy princess, even though this isn't your typical fairy princess story.
From the very start, this story reminded me strongly of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Except, this story was much more entertaining, and fun, and concise. And not a single footnote!
There was a lot of stuff to love in this story. It catered to my love of historical fiction. I always enjoy well-written stories that are set back in time a ways. Generally, the further back the better. I love immersing myself in a different time with different mentalities and ideas and concepts, and I especially love it when there is a strong character I can identify with that's going with me.
Coriander was absolutely strong, and I loved her. She never let anyone take her dignity and identity away from her, even in a time when women were considered property and were thought to be nothing more than feeble-minded breeding house-keepers. Coriander refused to let herself be put into that particular box, and I loved her spunk for it.
This book also placed a lot of emphasis on religious and political persecution. This always interests me, because I'm a "Live and Let Live" kind of girl. I don't care what you believe, as long as you don't try to foist that belief on me against my will. I guess this makes me a little morbidly curious to read about people who just have to "cleanse", "convert", "fix" the "unbelievers" around them. I was really kind of fascinated with Maud Leggs and Arise Fell in this story because of that. Of course, they couldn't care less whether you believed. They just derived a sick pleasure out of the conversion process.
I definitely enjoyed reading this story. It was interesting and fun, and was a well-blended mix of history and fairy-tale. I think it would have been 5 star quality if it had wrapped just a few things up a little better, like who Medlar was, and how the time system worked, etc, but I think this is a solid 4 star book, even lacking those things. I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a light, fun read.
I had no idea what to expect of this book, I guess, I thought it is going to be a childish fairy tale, a quick kid's book/fairy tale. What I got was something quite extraordinary.
At some points, when reading this book, I was excited and didn't wanted to let it go, but at others I felt like I have been asleep for half an hour and not noticed part of the plot twists and action that happened. I felt like the book was magical, but not really polished to become a gem. At the beginning I was genuinely so intrigued that I compared it to Harry Potter in my mind, but unfortunately lot of things weren't explained and some things confused me, so it won't get the same fame and love from me as the famous series.
Although this could have been quite a gem and was pleasing and fast read, but nothing more.
Would be fine, if it weren't for the glaring historical inaccuracies. And the bias. Or should I say prejudice? And the holes in the plots - historical and fantasy. And the ending. And the limp romance.
But seriously - if something is to pass itself off as historical fiction, whether fantasy or not, it should at least get most factual matters close to correct. This doesn't.
У Лондоні 1650-х років живе чарівна крихітка Коріандр. Тато в неї купець, що торгує шовками, а мама… А мама насправді чарівна. Та наступають темні часи, король Карл втрачає голову, встановлюється похмурий режим правління Кромвеля, мама Коріандр раптово помирає, а батько хутко одружується з праведною пуританкою, бо суворі часи – суворі рішення, треба ж роялісту якось викручуватися. З мачухою Коріандр сильно не пощастило, а ще за нею слідкує величезний крук та дивна стара жінка. Але чому, в Коріандр вже навіть отих чарівних срібних черевичків нема, котрі мама взувати забороняла!
Сама Саллі Ґарднер пояснює, що сімнадцяте століття взяла за основу, бо можна уявити, що тоді “фейрі ще були поруч”. І навколо цієї ідеї вона збудувала сумовитий і багатий на історичні деталі роман виховання незвичайної дівчинки в несприятливих умовах. Купа побутових подробиць, рясне іронізування над епохою, відновлення історичної справедливості, трохи моралі про неприпустимість розділення народу надвоє і одна велика прозора метафора, де негаразди в реальному світі синхронізовані з бідами Чарокраю (три жменьки балад та дрібочку “Снігової королеви” додати за смаком).
З одного боку, “Я, Коріандр” – це доволі типова оповідь про Обрану, яка ось ще трішечки – й допоможе всім навколо. Але головна героїня цієї книжки – дівчинка направду симпатична, дещо занадто запальна, а проте розумна, відповідальна, а ще – з непорушним відчуттям власної гідності. Письменниця пішла простим, але дуже наочним і зрозумілим для аудиторії шляхом: навіть в найгірші часи Коріандр тримається за своє незвичне ім’я, яке недоброзичливі навколишні спішать змінити. І поки Коріандр лишається Коріандр – не все втрачено. А ще ставлення до чудернацького імені перетворюється на чудовий маркер адекватності персонажів.
З іншого боку, Саллі Ґарднер використовує шанс розповісти юним читачам про повсякденне життя лондонців XVII століття, про те, наскільки навіть побутово та культурно значущим був короткочасний тріумф пуритан, про те, як саме змінюються (або ж ні) люди в екстремальних обставинах, та й загалом – про те, як жити в ту саму кляту епоху перемін, коли ти – дитина і від тебе нічого, нічогісінько не залежить. І з такої точки зору оцей пункт “Криза в Чарокраї як метафора небажаної революції” отримує друге дихання, адже водночас чарівний бік життя Коріандр можна зчитувати як втечу від нестерпної реальності.
I loved this book. It was so refreshing to finally have an author capture the true essence and dignity of a child. Here's the thing: Do you remember that teacher in school that gave you respect and treated you like an adult. You were held accountable, treated with respect, and your opinions were really appreciated. For some reason, people talk down to children or act like they are not that intelligent. Kinda like a person talking really loud and slow to a deaf person. It looks stupid and doesn't do a bit of good!
Enough of my rant. This is a great book. I like the integration of the fairy world with the real one. It was impressive how Sally Gardner really caught the spirit of England in the 1600's under Oliver Cromwell's rule. Being kind of a history fan, I loved feeling like I understood what England was going through while being a puritan state. (Very McCarthyesque) I could understand why the King was welcomed back so warmly.
There's a good mixture of history and fairy tale. How Coriander must stop her evil grand step mother and save her true love in the fairy world was as well told as the her trials and tribulations in England under her step mother and puritan minister who are trying to get her silver shadow.
I have read quite a few books over the period of the self-proclaimed hiatus and I, Coriander was one of the books I had the misfortune to read. You can tell already it's going to be a rant? Good! Believe it or not, I have read this book in one day (I literally just finished it) and my rage was so great that I finally decided to actually post something! So get your seat belts on, you are in for a rollercoaster ride called the 'rant of a newborne hater'.
The Story: 1/5 stars
I really was trying to bump it up to 2 stars at least. Honestly. After careful consideration however I could not find any redeeming points of this poor excuse of a story.
We have Coriander who seems to be a normal, rich daughter of a merchant (with a weird plant name). Her family is 'perfectly normal' and happy - they are blessed with good looks and wealth, let alone witchcraf-I-I mean knowledge of medicine making with herbs (I am a brilliant synopsis writer, as you can see). While I was reading through 80 pages of how happy their life was, it was not too bad actually. It was simple but nothing too bad. It was interesting enough to keep my attention in a noisy library. Then the whole ordeal comes in with the crisis (major spoiler, not really) when her mother is killed...somehow. And I do mean somehow since I had to re-read that paragraph a couple of times to understand what the hell just actually happened. It was just so random and out of place! I could not understand what actually killed the poor woman..until like the very end of the novel! Honestly, Gardner, way to confuse a 17-year-old reading a book meant for 12-year-olds. If I was confused, how are the 12-year-olds meant to understand what just happened? I do understand that Gardner would want to keep it mild, as it is a children's book, but for God's sake! At least make some sense, woman!
Then the part which disgusted me came along - all the typical step-mother stuff only with a pinch of extra spicy child abuse. And when I say disgusting, I mean disgusting. It was hard to read without despising the characters or the story. Sure it may have sounded like something that happened in that time but goodness how it enraged me. The whole witchcraft was also really annoying.
Then came the most ridiculous part of the novel which just lost me - the friggin' fairy world. I am not kidding.
Let's just also say that everything was described in as little detail as possible so world building lacked quite a bit, but I'll go into that later in the Writer's Technique section.
Let me just say that by that point the story's plot kind of lost me. Nothing was explained properly and characters began to lack common sense...more than they did before. Oh, you want me to tell you everything about me? Sure! Oh, you're some creepy old man with a lantern I just met? I trust you with my life! Oh, you're some weird blue light which may as well be my very own schizophrenic hallucinations? You must be my saviour whom I must kiss (on the cheek)!
Yeah....that did not go well with my brain that by that time was malfunctioning from all the stupidity and childishness. I know this is a children's book but....DON'T TEACH KIDS TO TALK TO AND COMPLETELY TRUST STRANGERS AND WANDER OFF WITH THEM! WHAT KIND OF LOGIC IS THAT?!
The rest of the story just went downhill with the idling and pointless plot. The confrontations were dull and boring, not to mention predictable and stupid. The plot twists by that time were easy enough to guess and the ending...like what the actual hell did I even read. It was one of the worst endings. I don't mean as in some tragic end. Oh no, everyone ended up sickeningly happy (too happy for 17th century, says I! Why hadn't even one of them died of the plague?!). I will of course not spoil it but let's just say that it was stupid and random. The vagueness also didn't help.
Oh this part I will rant probably with the most rage. The historical context of the novel. Let me just say that I am an A2 history student who is doing a course on Charles I, Cromwell and the Restoration so I do know what I'm talking about. Reading this as a historian, this book made me sick by how it was so disgustingly prejudiced and historically inaccurate (I am no professional on this field of research, but I think doing a course precisely on this does give me justice). I can't say I'm some fanatic of Cromwell or his Protectorate but he was made out a complete monster and tyrant for no good reason. Oh there was a reason, according to Gardner - he banned Christmas. It is a well known fact to any historian that it is a complete load of baloney. Christmas was never banned and I know this well since our class was disappointed to find this popular myth to be false. Let's also clear another thing up - he was by no means a tyrant or even close (trust me, I had to answer a 45 marker on this one....there were hardly any arguments for him being a tyrant and many against). The toleration levels seemed to have been at the bottom in the novel yet as far as I know, religious toleration was at its highest during Cromwell's rule, who encouraged it. In fact, Charles II's rule had once again ended the age of toleration. Heck, his rule started out disastrously with the plague and the Great Fire of London. The whole 'banning of fun' was only during the Major Generals rule from 1655 to 1657 (and let's just say that not many actually followed those rules while most Major Generals got along fine with the locals and only few were tyrannical) and everyone did not exactly get shunned if you weren't a puritan, making most of the novel pointless and without a stable plot which would make sense. Cromwell was well regarded among England, as far as I can remember. Oh, he was goddamn awful to those abroad, massacring the Irish and deeming the Spanish as the spawn of evil, but the novel is set in London so you can't use that excuse. Honestly, I think my history teacher would burn this book if I asked him to read it.
You want to write a history novel? Read a friggin history book or two first then and not some damn wikipedia page or rely on popular myths! It just shows how much your research was lacking. I am not asking exactly to become an expert in the field, but at least not to go around and encouraging the popular disillusionments of history in society, especially when writing a children's book. Those guys take anything you say as fact!
The Characters: 1/5 stars
I hated all of them for one reason or another. Seriously, they were awful characters. I really don't want to remember everything about them so I'll make it brief.
Coriander: One of the most boring characters in the history of literature. She is stupid and doesn't know half the time what she is doing. She randomly sometimes 'knows what she's doing', which makes no sense. Childish to the core, despite her apparent maturing. I cannot bear to write any longer about this fool.
Tycho: Or as I call him - Psycho (he's not really a psycho..he's a fairy prince but seriously...what is up with the name). The most cardboard box character of the entire book most likely. And he was the flopping main love interest. WHYYYY?!!! The torture! The horror! One minute it's 'I love you, please don't leave me' and then literally the next 'I understand *rides off into the sunset*'. My only thought when I read that was literally 'Da f?!!!!'.
Eleanor (Coriander's mum aka that weird fairy with the weird shadow): She wasn't too bad, but that's probably because she was present very little before she got thrown in the gutter of the novel world. The descriptions of her later on however did make me think she was rather weird and foolish. And...what the heck is this whole concept of that weird shadow? It just seemed so random and uninspired!
God-knows-his-name-aka-Coriander's-father (edit - apparently it's Thomas): This guy..what is wrong with him?! He sacrificed his daughter's happiness for the sake of what people would say about him? Let me put this bluntly - just because you have a new puritan wife, it does not drop the charges against you for helping the Royalists. Honestly....the stupidity of this man...
The bad guys: Now these were disgusting and annoying. A whore, the most unholiest holyman and a witch? Seriously? And what the heck is up with the discrimination of looks? I get it that it makes it blatantly obvious who is good and who is evil if you say 'he/she is ugly aka evil' while 'he/she is beautiful/kind aka good', but that is incredibly shallow. There was no gray line as the 'bad people/creatures' were clearly divided from the 'good people/creatures' as if it was black and white. People are not that simple! And it's completely boring!
The rest: It's too much effort to name them all. They were all useless and boring, not to mention having the most random and convenient timings possible. No way in a million years would even half of the events in the novel had such perfectly timed entrances of the characters!
Writer's Technique: 0/5 stars
For the nth time - I do understand this is a children's book. I really do..but...THE WRITING IS GODDAMN TERRIBLE! It's awful! Let's just say that I do from time to time read the latest children's books (since a friend of mine happens to...force me to read them in order to fangirl over them together) so I do know that this is not a good example of good writing. I swear Gardner put as little detail as possible just for the readers to get the gist of what is going on (and even that wasn't enough sometimes) so it's no wonder that there is a complete lack of world building of character growth and development. The linear storyline was completely boring as if the author just wrote it down as soon as she thought of it. She tried to make it clever at times, with the whole mirror symbolism and paintings to make it seem like she meant to do this all along, but it tries too much and fails miserably. It's not clever and the writing techniques of foreshadowing have the skill level of a secondary school kid. I would say that this would probably pass as a very good GCSE/A Level project, nothing more.
Overall: 1/5 stars
This was an awful waste of time and poor excuse of a story. It was boring to the point that halfway through I couldn't help but think 'when is this rubbish going to end?'. Cliche and stupid plot and disgustingly historically innacurate. I think I just may have found a book which is on par with Twili-I-I mean The-Book-Which-Must Not-Be-Named when it comes to my ranting and hatred.
This will waste your time and brain power. Don't do it. Seriously.
And that is the end of my rant! Thanks so much for the patience of reading!
One fine day, when I have a few minutes to spare, I think "I guess I can fit one or two chapters in. I haven't read this in too long." Then....
Before I knew it, I was pushing back the estimated time I need to leave the house just so I could read more. I actually know the story, but still, it sucked me in (again).
I, Coriander is about, obviously, Coriander's life. I remembered this book as being vaguely related to fairytales, and there are fairies, but it's really about Coriander trying to survive when hardships hit. There's an evil stepmother, a casket, a magic shadow, and a fairy prince, all set in the backdrop of Oliver Cromwell's steadily increasing influence.
Most of the characters here are well-written. Coriander, her mother's waiting woman Danes, the tailor Thankless and his apprentice Gabriel, even her stepsister Hester. I thought they were all wonderfully written, and I even cheered on Hester and Gabriel. The villains of the piece, Maud and Arise were truly despicable, the way they abused Hester and Coriander. The only characters I didn't connect with were, strangely, the fairy fold. There is Medlar, whose role I'm not too sure about (is he a trickster of some sort?), and there's Tycho, the fairy prince. Perhaps it's because they weren't given as much space as the other characters, but they never really leapt of the page. But since they appeared only relatively few times, it wasn't much of a problem for me.
I may have read this a long time ago, but this reread showed that I still love the story. I'm really glad that I bought the book when I saw it.
I enjoyed the fairytale aspects of this book and I really wanted to give it three stars, both for a unique writing style and the artful inclusion of the history of the period, which I thought was done very well. I especially liked how Gardner presented such a wide range of poltical and religious viewpoints, but allowed the individuals that held them, like Ned or even Coriander, who is literally of another world, to all be able to show true tolerance for the other person and respect their belief, even while disagreeing as to the veracity of what the other chose as their cause. Arise Fell and Maud Leggs are prime examples of individuals who try and use religion as a mask to their sins and crimes. It is their excuse for every cruel, evil thing that they do and theu are masters at twisting language to suit their needs. Definitely a more mature "children's" book, though it would not even have to be marketed as such.
Overall, it was an okay read, but not spectacular... Good fairytale, but without the complexity of plot or rich characterization that I do so enjoy. Also, even though I know it is a classic standby in these tales, the whole "love at first sight" gets to me. They can fall in love at first sight, sure, but I still like to see them getting to know one another before story's end.
A tale set in the English Civil War and -- elsewhere. Coriander is the only child of her parents, and one birthday, she finds herself sent marvelous silver shoes. Her mother tries to keep them from her, but consequences follows. Such as an old woman and a crow seeing her.
Her tale winds on with many a fairy tale trope, though it's not a straight retelling. Her father's Royalist sentiments lead to a lot of trouble, including his having to remarry to distract Puritans from himself and her -- and then his having to flee, leaving her, and letting her stepmother bring in a "preacher" help control her. It includes a crooked little preacher, another world where time does not flow as it does in our world, a fox, a man named Medlar who had once met her father while he carried a lantern, her mother's stillroom, a tailor and his apprentice, a white horse, and much more.
This one, I WILL say to people "You HAVE to read this!". It is a beautiful, modern-written (but not modern setting --- 1600s) fairy tale. You can read the provided description for an idea of what it's about --- I'll restrict my comments to the writing. I read this probably a couple of years ago, but I just noticed that she has a couple more books coming out, so I thought I would comment on this one before I read and comment on those. Basically, her writing is lyrical, beautiful... and the story just wraps itself around you --- it's hard to describe. At least that's how it was for me --- hopefully if any of you pick it up, you will like it too! :-)
Published: 05/06/2006 Author: Sally Gardner Recommended for: young adults
I was drawn to this book by its cover and the fact that it was set in the 1640s, prior to the Great Fire of London, a period of history I enjoy reading about.
I,Coriander is a beautifully written book full of description and intrigue. I read it in two days needless to say I couldnt put it down! The chapters are short and snappy. If you enjoy history thrown together with fairy magic, sorcery and the lives of Coriander and her step sister Hester this is a book for you. It's totally different from any book I have read before but I'm glad I gave it a try.
I was a big of this when I read it a few years ago. It had a few logical flaws and flew pretty far under the radar as far as acclaim but I loved it anyway. Delicious magical realism combined with history, and gorgeous writing on top.
I'll fully admit that part of my love is because of that elegantly creepy, haunting cover! I can't explain why it sucks me in--but I could look at it for HOURS!!
This book had a good idea and story behind it, although I didn't feel it was told very well. It seemed to be lacking...something. I think it needed to be longer and more in depth with better explanations or dialogue, but overall it wasn't a bad read.
Wonderful modern day fairy tale that is expertly retold. Mixing the world of fairies, evil stepmothers and the time when Cromwell and the Puritans held sway in England. The story is expertly retold and provides a younger reader with an introduction into the world that Susannah Clarke brilliantly creates in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. The tale has magical silver shoes, evil villains a plenty and a fairy world that is forever winter until the spell can be broken -just like Narnia! Side by side sits Cromwell's commonwealth full of its own villains ready to exploit the uncertain times. A great tale is told making for a wonderful read.
I loved this book. It was lovely and exciting and terrifying - especially if you consider the story through the eyes of a younger person. Plus is was a very interesting perspective on Cromwell's England and all the strife that occurred because of that brief excursion into being a republic, and what that meant. Add into it all a wonderful dose of magic and evil and you have a wonderful coming of age story that anyone would enjoy.