I have nearly 100 wonderful old traditional fairy tale collections that I've put on my Kindle for my favorite price - free. So why on earth chose this one to read first?
Simple. My Grandmother is French.
The first story, The Story of Blondine, Bonne-Biche, and Beau-minon is full of beautiful imagery. That's the only real complaint I would have about this book - there are places that clearly had illustrations, but they are not included. There is also no table of contents which is rather inconvienent.
In the next story, Good Little Henry calls on the Fairy Bienfaisante for help when his dear mother falls ill and is near death. The Fairy tells Henry to get a leaf from a plant on top of the mountain outside his house. Of course, it's never really that easy! His is a master quest taking him several years to finally accomplish, but he and his mother are rewarded with health and a life of comfort in the end. This and the following tales are the sort of stories I can imagine parents telling their children at bedtime over a few weeks or by the fire in the winter. They are tales of great trials but the obedient and loving child is always rewarded. Wicked and bad people are punished horribly - as are disobedient - and overly curious - children. Children, however, can repent and change their ways. Good and kind children are rewarded. In the end, everyone finds someone to love and lives happily ever after.
You didn't need a reviewer to know that, did you? I enjoyed the stories, predictable as they may be. And I got to thinking that stories like these to teach a child to modify their behavior to be good, obedient, hard working, thinking people is not a bad thing. Far more painless than spankings, or long lectures, or time outs - and I suspect - far more effective. I don't know - you try it on your grandkids and tell me, okay?
I got quite a giggle out of Blondine's story where people's names have a tendency to reflect their character, such as Prince Violent and Queen Indolent. I also loved the rousing adventurous chariot race - with the chariots driven by the ladies! - in Rosette's story. You don't expect that in a 17th century tale! I had to actually look up the word genius as it is used in these stories. Here it is an archaic meaning of a person or entity who has an undue influence on another - as in; "so and so is my evil genius who leads me into temptation". I also found it interesting that it was customary to thank God AND the good fairy for your good fortune. Children were chosen a fairy godmother - literally - at birth so that the powerful fairy would watch over them, like what we now call a guardian angel. It is clear that the "new" Christianity was embraced right alongside the "old" Pagan Fairy beliefs during this period.