A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker

Book - 2017
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From the author of the beloved New York Times bestseller Wicked, the magical story of a toymaker, a nutcracker, and a legend remade . . .

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.

Hiddensee: An island of white sandy beaches, salt marshes, steep cliffs, and pine forests north of Berlin in the Baltic Sea, an island that is an enchanting bohemian retreat and home to a large artists' colony-- a wellspring of inspiration for the Romantic imagination . . .

Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann-- the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann's mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier-- the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky's fairy tale ballet-- who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults-- a fascination with death and the afterlife-- and ponders a profound question: How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share.

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062684387
Branch Call Number: FICTION Maguire, Gregory
Characteristics: xi, 287 pages ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Hidden see


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DPLSaraQT Mar 17, 2018

Lovely, sad, special, whimsical, and philosophical - all at once. Highly recommend.

Mar 11, 2018

Gregory Maguire is one of my favorite writers and he didn't disappoint. However, compared to other re-writing of fairy tales (like "Mirror Mirror" and "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister"), here the relationship to the original story, "The Nutcracker," seems a bit stretched, also because references to the fairy tale appear only in the last section. The book is about Dirk Drosselmeier, a foundling who - although having visions of the Pythia and the god Pan - lives most of his life in a simple, unassuming, almost ignorant way. He meets Felix, a would-be musician who seems to be secretly in love with Dirk, and - after some adventures and a lost love - he spends a good part of his life taking care of Felix' family after his untimely death. The last chapters deal with the friendship between Dirk, now old and supposedly wise, and Klara, a grandchild of Felix, who has a very vivid imagination and is the connection to the original fairy tale. Oh, I forgot: Dirk becomes a toy maker and builds a nutcracker that grows old with him. Overall a very enjoyable book, not devoid of humor, but the sections about the Lost Little Forest (supposedly a Greek forest in search of a new home) are not always very clear. What does the forest represent? Why do the Pythia of Delphos and Pan appear to Dirk? What is Dirk supposed to do - if anything?
However, with characters as Mesmer and a gnome-like knife, this is a book to read, definitely.

ArapahoeSummer Nov 15, 2017

This retelling serves as a prequel to the Nutcracker. The story is imaginative and sometimes dark, weaving in several other fairy tales. Maguire saves the best for last in this one - if you are looking for a retelling of the Nutcracker, don't skip part three.


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