Friday, 30 April 2010

Foreign Language Friday: The Princess and the Captain

Dear Blog,
I thought it might be fun to do a feature every Friday about, well, books originally published in other languages to my native one, i.e English.  So, well, here goes.  Every Friday I'll talk about non-English language books, authors and poets.
I'll start with one of my favourite books ever, The Princess and the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux.

First published in: France
Original title: La Princetta et la Capitaine
Translated by: Anthea Bell.  She translates everything!  I can't think of a novel in German or French that she hasn't translated. 

Summary (from Malva is the princess of Galnicia, destined to marry the Prince of Andemark. Or so her parents think. On the eve of her wedding, she escapes at dead of night from under her parents' noses, little realising that she is letting herself in for a life of peril and adventure, including being shipwrecked in a huge storm and captured as part of a harem. Hugely visual, the book tells of the wonder of frozen steppes and oriental palaces, of sailing ships and treasure islands. This is a book of drama, magic and excitement, where challenges have to be overcome, friendships cemented and hearts broken.

Review: I want to say soooooo much about this book.  But I need to review it in a calm, book-bloggery sort of way and not in an Oh my God this is the best book ever amazing amazing amazing *screams like a tween JLS fangirl* sort of way, which is what I'd like to do.  I need to explain why I love it so much.
First things first: well, is there a first things first?  Until I get my brain in order, which is too busy reeling at its amazingness even though I've read it three times in three years, I'll say, um...the cover is nice. 

The plot itself is perfect in every way.  People on writing courses should study this book.  It has a beginning, a middle and an ending, it's perfectly paced, the translation is excellent, and it's always, always exciting. It's one of those books that gets slightly damp pages because your palms are sweating so much.  You grip it so tightly you think the spine will make a weird cracking noise and break slightly. 
My friend Sophie's copy got slightly mauled by her dog.  He probably loved it so much he decided to eat it.  It's certainly wonderful enough to eat.  But alas she didn't actually get much of a chance to read it because her dog ripped it apart.  Too bad. 

The characters too are wonderful.  Malva herself is a fiesty, brave heroine you always find yourself rooting for.  Orpheus is the first character in a book I probably had a slight crush on.  Hob and Peppe are the comedy duo of the group, but their fates are equally heart-rending (the characters drop like flies in part two of the book, "Wandering").    And the Archont?  He is wonderfully evil.  You can almost hear his evil "bwahahahahaha!" laughter as he appears on the page.  If it was adapted into a pantomime, the audience would yell, "BOO!" and hiss every time he came onto the stage.  If it was a play in Shakespearean times, which this book would be good for because of  its sheer epic-ness, no doubt the audience would throw cabbage and eggs at him.  Yes, yes, he is a wonderful villain.

The only thing that annoys me about this book is the ending .  WHY, GOD, WHY???  I won't say anything else because I want the reader to read the book .  Even if it means that they end up screaming and throwing the book against the wall..  Most of the reviews on Goodreads knock two or three stars off for the ending.  They knock aforementioned two or three stars off because, well, it's so heartbreaking.  It's exactly what you don't want to happen to Malva for her to find true happiness.  But, well, I guess it stops the ending being too fairy-tale ish and perfect.  But, still.   *mourns it anyway*. 

Summary: well, how can I summarise?  In three words: (in my opinion) Best Book Ever. It is an epic novel full of wonderfullness on every single page. 
Rating: 5.
Next Friday: Tell Me What You See  by Zoran Drvenkar


  1. Wow! Awesome review!! I think this one is called "the princetta" here in the US, and I have always been curious about it. Thanks for the great review!

    thanks so much for stopping by and following my blog, I am following yours now too :)

  2. thanks so much. i already read this book but i used your comments as a book report thankyou!.

  3. i loved the book thanks.


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