BOOK REVIEW (52): The Fisherman and his Wife

The Fisherman and his Wife
I’ve been holding onto this review for a while. Not sure considering I finished reading this picture book in a few minutes…

Anyways before I begin the review, for those of you who are not aware of the folk tale of “The Fisherman and his Wife”, or you haven’t come across variants like Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, “The Ridiculous Wishes”, essentially this is a story about the flaw of hubris and seeking too much and being dissatisfied forever.

It’s usually an abysmal tale; what you would call a cautionary story that isn’t meant to necessarily give a HEA, say like “Cinderella” or “Snow White”. The story of the fisherman and his greedy wife are just meant to teach you to be satisfied with what you got and not ask for anything too extravagant, or on the flip side teaching you to be satisfied with what you got.

So having read the back jacket I learned that the author and illustrator, Rachel Isadora, lived in Africa for a long time and that explained this inspired African themed retelling. It was beautifully put together.

I’m not sure what variants of this tale exists out there — and this is sort of the bane of fairy tales and folk stories, as there are sometimes differences, big or small, that are available out there — but I read only one variant, aside from Perrault’s version which has the same theme only different story, cast, situation, etc. This variant is much shorter and it culminates into three wishes from the greedy wife, the last of which the magical prince-turned-fish does not grant.

Isadora’s tale has the poor fisherman going back to the fish a total of six times, each time asking for a grander life scheme. The fifth time she asks to be a pope…

This was weird to me, because A) it’s quite religious, and B) it’s a children’s book and if I were reading it to a child that would probably go over their head.

And the sixth and final time, the greedy wife asks to be God. Not a god, mind you, but God. Again, the monotheistic Christian vibe through me for a loop. Though I was still sorta relieved that she didn’t get her wish!

Never read this fairy tale or are you interested in reading another variant?
Then hunt down Rachel Isadora’s The Fisherman and his Wife.

My verdict:

(4 stars)

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