Two Very Different Princesses

I just finished two books this week.

The first was book two in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice Series, A Clash of Kings. I have to say that while I am enjoying the series so far, I was in need of a break from it after book two. I am excited to go back and continue reading the series after a bit, but while I normally appreciate a unique writing style, I find Martin’s to be rather distracting.

He writes each chapter from a different character’s perspective, and perhaps if I liked more of the characters I wouldn’t find it as off-putting as I do. It probably doesn’t help that I’m reading this on the nook– so it’s not really as easy to skim chapters. And I got a deal by buying the first four books at one time, so I am acutely aware of the fact that I am now 1600-some pages into the 3500-some page tome. But I am extremely interested in War-of-the-Roses-type books, and am hoping that with the third book, Martin will bring more focus on the characters that I really enjoy reading.

So, to take a break from that series, I decided to pick up something that I’ve come across a few times in the past couple of years. Cinderella Ate My Daughter, by Peggy Orenstein documents a mother’s attempt to learn more about the phenomenon that is the Disney Princess, and the way this princess culture might affect young girls. While she had some really interesting research, I often thought she seemed to be stretching it to cater to her viewpoint. Her concern is that if we saturate young and impressionable girls with (fictional) female role models whose best attributes are their beauty and luck at getting married to a prince, then we’re setting them up for failure in the real world in many ways. I find that after reading everything she had to say, the most important aspect seems to simply be parenting, and moderation. But that’s just my opinion.

I did find it a bit interesting though to think about the different portrayals of princesses that Orenstein discusses, and the princesses that Martin writes in his series. For the most part, in Martin’s books, the life of a princess (or really any woman) is pretty miserable. There’s no fairy tale ending, no true love, and even the beautiful clothing gets ruined with gore. I wonder, if these were the types of stories that we grew up with, would the number of (absurdly early) viewers of the Royal Wedding have been so high?

Lastly, and most importantly, all of this princess reading has me super excited to dig out my Grimm’s Fairytales.

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