Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rating : 5/5
Reason for reading : Guardian 100 greatest books of all time challenge, and personal interest

The premise is that King Shahryar caught his wife cheating on him with one of the servants from the palace stables. On visiting his brother King Shazaman, he finds the same thing has happened there with the palace cook. Both brothers have put their wives and their lovers to death and decalre all woman are fickle:
"Woman are worthless,
Woman are liars:
They seem to be roses,
But grow into briars."

King Shahryar gets lonely at night time by himself, so he decides to marry a different girl each day and then have her put to death the following morning before she has a chance to stop loving him. One thousand days later he marries Shahrazah, the daughter of his wazier. Each night she tells him a different story which so captivate him that he delays her death another day to hear what happens next.

I have to say I completely fell in love with this book. The stories Shahrazah tells her husband were a great mixture of funny, spiritual, magical and from the mouths of animals. Each one is captivating in it's own way. It includes tales of Sinbad the sailor, Ali Baba and the forty bandits and Ala al-Din and his wonderful lamp. Some of my favourites were The Lion's Revenge on Man-Kin, The Everlasting Shoes, The Keys of Destiny, The Wonderful Bag and the Tale of the Anklet which seemed to be a basis for Cinderella. I recommend it to anyone who loves a good story, a lover of folktales and anyone who likes to let their imagination run wild.

8 comments:

Literary Feline said...

This does sound intriguing! Thanks for the review.

Nymeth said...

I read The Arabian Nights in my childhood - my mother had read them when she was a child too, and she passed them on to me. Naturally, a lot of the symbolism of the stories went right over my head, and I've been meaning to revisit them for a while now.

Is this Geraldine McCaughrean version a retelling or just a trabslation? Either way, your great review gave me extra motivation to revist these stories. I'm very glad to read you fell in love with them. I think it's likely that I will, too - I love stories, and this is called the Story of Stories for a reason.

Daphne said...

I have never read The Arabian Nights but have wondered about it from time to time over the years. I might have to check this one out. It sounds wonderful.

Mailyn said...

I remember this from when I was very young. Is this a new translation. Because it's not the one I read. That book was HUGE. LOL.

Carl V. said...

It is sad that I know the bare bones of this story so well and have never read it. I should rectify that.

Rhinoa said...

I think it was aimed at younger readers but I couldn't find another version when I was looking for a copy. It is one of the Oxford Classics range and it had some nice pen illustrations too.

Litery Feliene, Nymeth and Daphne I think it is just the book for you!

Mailyn if you remember any more details let me know as I would love to read more of the tales.

Stephanie said...

This is one of those books I am really surprised I have never read. Great review!

cj said...

I don't think I knew anyone who'd actually read this book... until now.

It's a story I've heard about my entire life but never even thought of reading.

Maybe it's time I did. Wonder if the sad little library we have in town here has a copy.

cjh