Sophie, Countess of Ségur, was a Russian-born French writer who lived from 1799 to 1874. This collection of stories draws on the rich heritage of French medieval literature, courtly love, magic charms and gallant deeds. In each story, the hero or heroine must undertake a quest or overcome a series of impossible challenges in order to reach their goal - often with the aid of magic.
The tests involve patience, endurance and hard physical labour, as well as overcoming character flaws or atoning for past misdeeds. The stories are remarkably vibrant and well written, containing many elements of surprise and humour as well as chivalry and courtly romance, and as such, reach across the ages and appeal to a modern audience. These stories will delight children and adults alike: 'Blondine, Bonne Biche and Beau Manon', 'Good Little Henry', "The Story of Rosette', 'The Little Grey Mouse', and 'Ourson'.
Public Domain (P)2011 Red Door Audiobooks
I'm a bit of a fan of fairy tales, and pride myself on having read or heard most, but this translation of Comtesse de Segur's Old French Fairy Tales gave me something entirely new in so many ways. Firstly, these are very rare and largely forgotten tales; you won't find them in most fairy tales books. Secondly, she writes these tales with a depth and emotional resonance often missing in the shorter, traditional method of fairy-tale telling; as a consequence they are more like novellas than short stories, and give the reader a true, full-immersion experience that I didn't want to end, and made me engage with the characters completely. Lastly they are read beautifully by Cathy Dobson, whose audiobooks I have purchased before and thoroughly enjoyed for her soothing voice and cool, clear accent. Just wonderful all round. My personal favourite was the last tale, "Ourson", but all deserve five stars!
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