DCIB Book Club: Dealing With Dragons! Mansplaining Attacked, Fairy Tale Style

I enjoy this book soooooooooooo much! I hope some of you read it and enjoyed it as well, it’s such a silly little delight.

I read this book for the first time when I was 8 or 9 I think and it BLEW MY MIND. I was a fairy tale kid, I read all the Lang collections (or had them read aloud to me) and I knew all the fairy tale rules and stuff. So to have this book that takes all that fairy tale content and turns it over and around was just shocking to me. I think I can safely say that this book series had a big effect on my growth into media criticism, seeing that you can look at a fictional universe and see something different. And it FOR SURE had an effect on my growth as a feminist. This book absolutely NAILS the way women can be dismissed and ignored, and how that can be a strength and a weakness.

Questions for those of you who read it:

Did you notice that all the good people were women and all the bad people were men or was that seamless? For me, it was seamless. The point of the book is being willing to look past custom and the way things “have” to be done, and part of that is the way things “have” to be done tends to benefit men. So of course there will be dumb knights who have way too much power to mess up your life, and power mad men who are angry when they don’t get what they think they deserve. And there will be women who are ultimately harmless because they just don’t have the ability to do real harm. And women who are smart and outside the box thinkers because the box is so frustrating to them.

Was our heroine TOO perfect? The whole point of Cimerone is to be a smart practical princess instead of the usual dim proper pretty princesses. So she sort of HAS to be smart and practical. But it is a bit dull having a heroine that perfect. Honestly, re-reading the book, I like Alianore better just because she is silly sometimes and doesn’t know everything.

Would you rather be a Dragon’s Princess, a Regular Princess, or a Witch? WITCH! I have always wanted Morwen’s life, ever since I first read these books. A lovely little house, interesting challenging work, friends visiting, lots of pets. I’d have dogs instead of cats, but otherwise, everything is perfect. Second choice, regular princess. So long as they let me read whatever I wanted and pick my own prince, I wouldn’t mind brushing my hair and embroidering and talking to people all day. Third choice, Dragon’s Princess. Organizing the library sounds really fun, but I don’t want to cook.

Would you rather be melted, turned to stone, or turned into a toad? Melted, for sure! It probably feels very unpleasant, but then I can get myself back together again and reappear in a few days. Turned to stone may not feel bad at all, but you would lose so much time while being stone and that seems weird. And toad, obviously, is the worst because it is irreversible.

4 thoughts on “DCIB Book Club: Dealing With Dragons! Mansplaining Attacked, Fairy Tale Style

  1. The stone prince wasn’t bad, though. Apart from maybe the fact that their world’s twisted logic granted him the big prophesy foreshadowing for basically just tagging along with Cimorene’s party. Otherwise, no I didn’t notice about morals dividing across gender lines. Partly because with the dragons, I just didn’t care to remember – especially after the reveal that the king can be female.

    The foreword in my edition explained how Cimorene has to be smart and practical because the author had already written her older self as smart and practical in an earlier book. I guess it would have been a lot harder to write her as believably just on the way there. Plus, boy heroes are often as “perfect” and nobody bats an eye.

    Dragon’s Princess seems to work out really well if you happen to find a reasonable dragon like Kazul. Very much like marriage for a regular princess, I guess. Somehow the witch’s clean house with lots of cats didn’t speak to me.

    I care about discomfort a lot more than about the possibility of returning, so I’ll take stone – as long as I’m really unconscious and definitely don’t get to move around anymore.

    I definitely enjoyed this fun little story a lot. I think I may actually look into book two once I’m through with the Thirkell. After that much realism and applicability to the current situation, I’ll need a dose of fantastic escapism again.

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    • I didn’t know the books were written out of order! Now I have to find out what the writing order was. Oh! The last one was written first! That’s interesting. It very much feels like a standalone, but it also resolves some stuff from older characters. So maybe she had a vague idea of who these people were and so on before she wrote it? Or else she re-edited after she wrote the other books? Yep, looks like she re-edited to bring people in line with how she wrote them in other books. Well, I’m glad I never knew that and I only read the 4 books in story order and the re-edited version of the 4th.

      Thirkell is so weirdly applicable! I read this book, Cheerfulness Breaks Through, last summer and I had to keep stopping and reading lines to my parents because it grasped so many things just right. On the other hand, the Enchanted Forest Books are completely non-related to reality, so you can enjoy them.

      On Sun, Apr 11, 2021 at 1:00 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Since I’ve already kind of highjacked this post, I probably need to warn you that I’ll want to analyze Cheerfulness Breaks In in considerable detail once I’m finished. It’s so unlike stuff I usually read. Books with plots, for one thing. I totally get why you find this kind of story soothing, but I would probably have given up by now if it weren’t for the interesting first-hand insights into period thinking: both about the war and the occupants of Adelina Cottage. But how on earth did this book sell while the events it describes were still current?

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        • THANK GOODNESS!!! I also wanted to analyze Cheerfulness Breaks In in great detail after I read it, and I had no one to talk to.

          This was about 10-11 books into the Thirkell series, so people knew what they were getting with her. I imagine it was a kind of soothing thing to have a new Thirkell book just like all the others, only now it is wartime. They all follow the same pattern, a group of characters, a series of incidents, and then sort of a happy stopping place to resolve stuff. No real “plot”. This book is one of her longer ones, that is, covering a longer time period. A lot of her books just cover a summer house party which is pretty perfect. Everyone arrives, every talks, everyone leaves, book over. Having a book that covers 6-8 months with a lot of stuff changing and happening in the middle makes the whole “but, there is no PLOT!” a lot more obvious than when a house party gives you a tidy beginning and end.

          She kept publishing one book a year right through the war. Her wartime books are FASCINATING. She was just writing what she was seeing and how she was feeling around herself, and it is a very detailed specific view of England in WWII. Stuff like, all the women had cracked and bleeding hands by the end because they had to work so hard at such unaccustomed tasks. I imagine that was part of the appeal for the readers too, feeling less alone, being able to pick up this book and go “Yes! That is what I am feeling and experiencing too!” Instead of seeing the clean and pretty picture in movies and stuff.

          I’ll tell you since you probably won’t read any more of her books that the Adelina Cottage couple is introduced in this book but remains a constant friendly theme throughout many sequels. They are never the central characters, but they are often around in party scenes and always liked and respected and understood by those around them.

          On Mon, Apr 12, 2021 at 2:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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