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Monthly Book Group > January 2009 - Discuss The Goose Girl

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message 1: by Alethea (last edited Dec 16, 2008 04:46PM) (new)

Alethea A (frootjoos) | 481 comments Mod
So our first book group selection is Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl!

If you haven't read it all yet and don't want to get *spoiled*, please use the other thread!

Thanks and have fun!


message 2: by Mindy (last edited Dec 18, 2008 04:08PM) (new)

Mindy (MindyBuchanan) | 159 comments This book was just okay for me. I liked it, but I think I was more driven by the fact that I'm a huge fan of fairytales in general. I think Hale could have knocked out about 50 pages if she removed all of the repetitive details of how Ani speaks to animals and how about every five pages or so she just can't put her finger on the idea that the wind is speaking to her.

It's a beautifully detailed book, but for me that is almost what drags it down. I just got so bored with the descriptions of every little thing. Like I said about 50 pages shorter and this probably would have been a four star book for me.

I do say "probably," though. I felt like this book was needlessly gory in parts. When I read that her beloved horse was killed, I didn't need the description of his once beautiful and strong white legs covered in his own death blood. The love of her horse was clearly established and just knowing he died a crazed, no doubt scared, wild thing was enough for me. I nearly put the book down.

However, I trudged on. I'm glad I did. Aside from more of the needless gore of the final battle, I rather enjoyed Ani finally standing up for herself and giving a piece of her mind to all those men.

I can appreciate what Hale did here. Though I liked Book of a Thousand Days much more.

message 3: by Alethea (new)

Alethea A (frootjoos) | 481 comments Mod
Mindy, I haven't read Book of a Thousand Days yet (it's sitting on my shelf), but what about it do you prefer over Goose Girl?

I did enjoy the book a lot and may even re-read it. But I agree, the details slow it down quite a bit. I did like that feeling that not everything comes so easily--not everyone likes her or believes her at once, as Alfonso has pointed out that when people meet Yelena, they either love her on sight or hate her guts, one or the other and no getting-to-know-you needed!

message 4: by Mindy (last edited Jan 11, 2009 03:18PM) (new)

Mindy (MindyBuchanan) | 159 comments Alethea wrote: "Mindy, I haven't read Book of a Thousand Days yet (it's sitting on my shelf), but what about it do you prefer over Goose Girl?..."

Well I supposed I just liked the simplicity of Book of a Thousand Days a little better. While they are both retellings, they are still very different and I probably only compared them because they are by the same author.

Also, I was really repelled by the gore in the book. Book of a Thousand Days didn't have as graphic scenes. I felt like it was done just for the sake of it. The book would have been just as enjoyable (or more so in my case) without the gore.

Not that I'm put off by it in general, I love fairy/folk tales and some of them are very gory. Blue Beard is one of my favorite fairy/folk tales ever. But the gore in that story is such an important piece to the actual telling of the tale that I feel like it's needed. Without it, it would not be the same story. I didn't feel like that was the case in The Goose Girl. The most important parts of the story could be told without it. Again, I just feel like it was there for the sake of being there.

I would agree about Ani's character not being easily liked. I enjoyed that part of it as well. I will likely read all the other books at some point.

message 5: by Pam (new)

Pam I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Main character matures as she faces challenges. Also liked the darker side of the story. Too much sweet stuff makes my tummy ache!

message 6: by Gisela (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments I really liked this story although I would have liked to see a scene at the end of the book in which ani's mother sees her, realizes how she has changed and give her some credit!

message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (Michelle_Blum) | 8 comments Goose Girl was a very cute book and a great take on a the original fairytale. I love how she can talk to and learn the language of birds and her horse. It was similar to Yelena's ability to talk to horses. I still think Kiki is the best horse.

For a "children's" book it was pretty graphic in areas - like the horse head or the hanging stinking men.

Good choice of book. I'll definitively read the next one in the group.

message 8: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 511 comments I really enjoyed this book and agree with Michelle that it was a little graphic at parts.. but no overtly so. I still haven't checked out the original fairy tale.. although I should. I also saw a book similar in the library I work at called Goose Chase. It seemed a bit different from what I read in Goose Girl, but could still be based on the same original tale.

message 9: by Suzy (new)

Suzy | 7 comments I enjoyed the book as well. I was a little confused as to why she can hear the wind, it seemed like she could only understand animals. Does that mean she understand the original language of all things or does the wind count as just another "animal." I was also disappointed that her horse could not be saved, I'm a sucker for animals. I haven't read the original Goose Girl either so I'm not sure how it differs. The book had a great balance of triumph and difficult times which I also liked.

message 10: by Jane (new)

Jane (janeg) | 123 comments Mod
I just read the Brothers Grimm original and that's rather graphic as well... maybe it was because I read Shannon Hale's retelling first and was imagining the horror. Read it here if you haven't yet. It's really short.

After the reading the original, I guess I can see why Hale didn't explain the mystery behind the queen's blood drops on the napkin-- the tale left that open as well. That was something I thought could've been taken further.

message 11: by Jane (new)

Jane (janeg) | 123 comments Mod
I'm not sure why she could hear the wind either... though, didn't the aunt say that there are different kinds of people who just have these abilities? Falada's death was really shocking to me.

message 12: by Mara (last edited Jan 26, 2009 05:40PM) (new)

Mara | 14 comments So I finally finished the book and decided liked it even better the second time. I've visited the author's website: (it's more of a blog) and in one of her past posts she questioned a New York Times article, "Can't a woman be feminine and still be powerful?" Then in another post she continued:

"When I was writing goose girl, I reached a point where I had to make a call--what kind of story do I want to tell here? Should I go high adventure and have Ani learn to use a sword or spear from some kindly palace weapons master? That might've been a cool story. But as I thought about it, I knew I wanted to stay true to the core of the fairy tale, which wasn't about a girl who learns to kick butt in a man's world. It was about a half-girl who becomes a whole girl. And I decided that I didn't want to put a phallic weapon into my heroine's hands in order to make her powerful. I wanted to see how powerful my girls could be without using guns or swords. I love a lot of those girls-on-horses-wielding-swords stories a whole, whole lot. And I am absolutely not criticizing them. But for my own stories, I decided to go another way. For now."

Since I had read this post before I reread the book I kept it in mind to see if she really held true to having her character 'win' by being feminine. Ani does have the wind to help her, but it's not the same as picking up a sword. Enna was a good friend and helped by being there for Ani. She also told the story of why women go to war with the men. It is by being feminine that they are able to help and remind their men what they are fighting for. Also, at the very end the girls are given shields, not javelins. They are there to help protect, but not fight off the hord.

I just thought that was an interesting way of looking at women in Shannon Hale's books. I also think it's an interesting way to take a story for a writer.

My thoughts on Ani being able to communicate with the wind and with animals: She could only talk with birds, Falada being the only exception. Her Aunt explains this in the begining and this is how I understood it. In the begining everyone and everything could talk to each other--animals, people, elements. But eventually that was lost and all that was left was three distinct languages.

There are people born with 'people-speaking' able to influence other people with their words (Selia and Ani's mother).

Others are born with 'animal-speaking' able to talk with animals. Ani's Aunt was one of those, and taught Ani to speak to birds, only birds, (don't know if that was just the Aunt's speciality or what, also don't know if the reason Ani could do it was because she had the ability to talk to wind--similar to learning different language, you know one it sort of makes it easier to learn another).

Knowing how to talk to Falada came from her Aunt as well. She told Ani that she helped birth a foal and heard the first word from his mouth--which was his name. She repeated it and that is how she was able to talk to the horse. Ani did the same--and got Falada. So she couldn't talk to any other horses, unless she followed the same process.

Then there were others that would speak with elements--but there hadn't been any of those in a long time, until Ani was born. She didn't open her eyes for the first 3 days because 'she was trying to figure out what word was on her tongue' (or her ability to talk to the wind). So the Aunt came and sang a song to her, that helped her open her eyes because it basically told her to wait until later to figure out what that word was. So later, when she was older, she was able to figure out wind speech.

Now that I've reread the novel--I agree with everyone else that I think it's probably too graphic for a children's book. And I remember thinking it was a little long when I first read it, but as I was reading it the second time I couldn't really think of many things I would have wanted to be left out.

What bothered me the most was how Ani was so tongue-tied when talking to the King at the end. I wanted her to use the logic she used when she was talking with Enna about the reasons behind the war, but it couldn't be that easy. I had also forgotten about the forged documents.

Sorry about the length of this. I'm looking forward to the next book.

message 13: by Gisela (last edited Jan 26, 2009 08:07PM) (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments Now that you mention it, one of the things I like about this story is that while Ani grows and becomes a stronger person, she doesn't need to kick butt to prove it. Although it would have been nice to see her kick Selia's butt!;)

message 14: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (Michelle_Blum) | 8 comments I really like your analysis of the book, Mara! The excerpt from the author was illuminating. While I too love woman-on-horse-kicking-butt stories - this wasn't really suitable to Ani's personality. She is a bit feeble and weak, but she used the skills she had (and a lot of perseverance) to save the day.

message 15: by Gisela (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments Just started reading Enna Burning, the sequel to The Goose Girl, and you get to see how Ani is coping with her new abilities. You also get to see that although she married her love, life isn't exactly a fairytale. I like that, it feels like a real marriage.

message 16: by Gisela (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments Finished reading Enna Burning, if you liked The Goose Girl I think you should read Enna's story.

message 17: by Mara (new)

Mara | 14 comments Wow! that was quick! Are you going for the third one? River Secrets and then the fourth one will be coming out this year.

message 18: by Gisela (last edited Jan 31, 2009 08:53PM) (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments You bet! Although River Secrets is not available at the local bookstore, so I'll have to order and then wait. I hate the wait! I'll read The Curse of Chalion in the meantime.

message 19: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 511 comments I have the other two at the school library and will pick them up when I finish this next book club book. Gisela, let me know how River Secrets is when you get it.

message 20: by Gisela (last edited Feb 01, 2009 12:55PM) (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments Well I'm thinking of buying the e-book, because shipping takes too long. If I order through the local Borders it takes at least 2 weeks! Most Amazon sellers won't ship to Puerto Rico and boy does that make me mad! I makes me want to yell at them: "We're a US protectorate! The same copyright laws that apply to the 50 states apply here, we have USPS, UPS,FEDEX, and DHL. I'm paying the shipping, so what's the problem?"

Ok, I'll stop ranting now.

message 21: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 511 comments Bah! That's horrible... It's like me wanting the 6th and 7th Ranger's Apprentice books and twiddling my thumbs, knowing they've been published in the UK, waiting for them to be published in the US. I could spend you know, the price of the book times two to get it, but I'm stingy and I usually don't even buy them! I get them from the library. I'm all about free books for the length of time I need to read them.

message 22: by Mindy (new)

Mindy (MindyBuchanan) | 159 comments Gisela - that does suck. You know my mom can't get things shipped to her half the time either. And she lives in Alaska! You should try They may have it and they do this thing called media mail through USPS. They may send stuff to you that way. It takes a long time. But of course, I heart Powell's. :)

message 23: by Gisela (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments They do send them media mail but I'm terribly impatient when it comes to books and media mail takes about 2 weeks. Sadly we don't have very good public libraries here. The ones we do have are more for reference purposes than for recreative reading. So they don't have much fiction, just the classics. Which means if a want to read a book I have to buy it.

message 24: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 511 comments Oh, that's no fun. I rely so heavily on the libraries here. I do something I call "Library-hopping" which is similar to "bar-hopping' only I bring home a ton of books, not drunk friends. That is why there are two whole shelves on my bookshelf dedicated to library books... I'll never be at a loss for what to read next.

message 25: by Gisela (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments I'm soooo green with envy! Do you realize we are carrying on 3 different "conversations" at the same time? :)

message 26: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 511 comments Hahaha. Yes, I realize that and it's very silly, but that's okay. I have a few different favorite libraries for different reasons. There's also a bunch of libraries where you can place stuff on hold online and pick it up at one location without having to do much. I find a lot of newer books that way, because I can search about 20 different libraries at the same time.

message 27: by Gisela (last edited Feb 01, 2009 01:37PM) (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments You're making me change colors! I'm so envious I'm almost blue! Stop tormenting me! lol :D

message 28: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 511 comments That's one thing our country has going for us... most of our public libraries are for "popular materials" aka fiction, dvds... anything that is popular. There are a few that specialize in different things, but mostly it is popular materials.

message 29: by Gisela (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments Guess what, River Secrets is not available as an ebook! I'll just have to find a way to endure...

message 30: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (Michelle_Blum) | 8 comments I somehow didn't realize Goose Girl is a series! Hopefully my library has them...

message 31: by Gisela (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments We'll cross our fingers for you!

message 32: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 511 comments They should! Shannon Hale is a popular YA author.

message 33: by Jane (new)

Jane (janeg) | 123 comments Mod
River Secrets is also not available on audio.

message 34: by Gisela (last edited Feb 03, 2009 07:42AM) (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments No e-book either...
Oh well! back to Barnes and Noble online...

message 35: by Jane (new)

Jane (janeg) | 123 comments Mod
Gisela wrote: "No e-book either...
Oh well! back to Barnes and Noble online..."

You mean Borders, right?

message 36: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 511 comments Not everyone has been "Borders-ized". Hehe. I'm starting to become an amazon-aholic.

message 37: by Gisela (last edited Feb 06, 2009 06:44PM) (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments Jane wrote: "Gisela wrote: "No e-book either...
Oh well! back to Barnes and Noble online..."

You mean Borders, right?"

I'm holding a grudge with them, still I ordered the book thru them. Let's see if it arrives. BTW, how long do books take to arrive at your store?

message 38: by Alethea (last edited Apr 13, 2009 03:00AM) (new)

Alethea A (frootjoos) | 481 comments Mod
Gisela wrote: "Jane wrote: "Gisela wrote: "No e-book either...
Oh well! back to Barnes and Noble online..."

You mean Borders, right?"

I'm holding a grudge with them, still I ordered the book thru them. Let's ..."

Gisela, I'm going to personally call the PR store (message me which one) and hound them until they get you your book! ^_^

Although really, you should just get it from me and I'll mail it, hehe. It'll be signed, too!

Nevertheless, I also *heart* Powells and especially Vroman's.

message 39: by Gisela (last edited Apr 14, 2009 07:24PM) (new)

Gisela (chicadorlando) | 180 comments Alethea thanks for offering, next time I'll let you know! I'm over my grudge, they got me the books and I also got the Libba Bray books!

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Books mentioned in this topic

The Goose Girl (other topics)
Book of a Thousand Days (other topics)
Enna Burning (other topics)
River Secrets (other topics)
The Curse of Chalion (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Shannon Hale (other topics)
Jacob Grimm (other topics)
Libba Bray (other topics)