I have always wanted to crawl inside of a fairy tale. I have been reading, writing, and thinking about fairy tales all of my life. I wrote my first poem when I was 7 and it was a fairy tale of sorts.
There’s just something about fairy tales - and no, not the simple here’s a princess, she is good, she is sad, now there is a prince, they are married, she is happy fairy tales that have come to stand in for what a fairy tale means but, the real ones - the ones that are dark, raw, weird, and full of depth and insight.
Sabrina Orah Mark knows exactly what I mean when I say I am obsessed with fairy tales. They weave my life and they weave through my life. And this is exactly what they do in Happily: A Personal History- with Fairy Tales. I should add here that this is the first time I am seeing the title as a personal history - that includes fairy tales, versus how I first saw it, how I identify with it - a personal history with, or belonging to, belonging with fairy tales. In Sabrina’s book, because I feel like I just have to call her Sabrina - I felt every word of her book so much - she gives us little perfect essays on life, her life, life life, that come with fairy tale lessons and daydreams.
Fairy tales walk through Sabrina’s daily life with her sons, her husband, her mother, her sister, and her flat out absolutely golden and relatable thoughts about work, COVID-19, and writing. I never give spoilers in my reviews, I just want to share what I can about being in love with a book - and I am in love with this book. Thank you Sabrina, I do hope it is okay that I am calling you Sabrina.
I told my husband that I do not get jealous of much in this life, I have the perfect husband, the perfect family and I have done what I could do with the body and mind that I have but man oh man did I get pangs of longing reading this amazing book that felt like Sabrina and I were hanging out, talking about fairy tales and our struggles to find “real jobs” knowing that fairy tales and family are the actual real jobs all along, they just don’t pay us in capitalist money. I wanted to write like this, I wanted to write this. He, being amazing, my husband, said I still could. I still can write. I could possibly also write something that is as much me as this book, Happily, is Sabrina.
If I could read this book again, I would. I probably will. But for now it has inspired me to write, to actually write. To stop struggling with whatever real job I am failing at and actually listen to my heart, my body, my soul and just write. When Sabrina shares her life with us, sewing it together with bits of vital fairy tale history and analysis, I can feel it like I can feel music. Happily paints a picture, sings a song, and it feels as kind, important, gentle and vital as a fairy tale. There’s something to learn here, there’s something to use and inspire.
We are all in these fairy tales, know it or not, like it or not - that is the entire point of fairy tales, creation stories, myth and religion - the stories are all we have, and in the end, as Sabrina Orah Mark observes, with the pure love/pain of a woman who loves, of a mother, of someone who cannot turn off her inner voice, her inner storyteller, - in the end, no matter what, there is so so so much dust.
I give this book a million stars, easily. I slept with it next to me the night I finished it because I wanted to say goodbye properly. I write this with the hope of a lost person, a lost writer who wants to try again, be better, be more, which means, be what I have always been but with less flopping around and being pushed into being other things - I am a woman, mother, wife, and I am a writer. That’s it.
To get a copy of Sabrina Orah Mark’s book, Happily: A Personal History - with Fairy Tales, check out her gorgeous website. To see more of my own writing on fairy tales, from back in the day, and to follow me for my future writings on fairy tales, check me out here and also, here.
May we all see the world as stories that we belong to and as fairy tales that give us the power to hope and to be, just be.
Some of my fairy tale poems
Jenny Curtis is a mother, wife, and writer. You can follow her on insta, maybe, or support her writing as business on facebook, also maybe.
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