The original tale of Allerleirauh
In 2017, I read a lesser known fairytale by Brothers’ Grimm titled Allerleirauh (in translation, all-kinds-of-furs), in a personal quest to discover a few lesser known old tales and shine some light on them. I was totally in love with the magic and sadness of this unique story, as well as being totally shaken by the sad sexist circumstances that the tale’s heroine had to face.
This enchanting yet terrifying fairytale waves the story of a well beloved queen that asks her husband as a dying wish to never re-marry unless he finds someone that has golden hair as charming as hers. Meant as a woeful request of a dying woman, her wish turns into a real curse for those that she leaves behind. Their only daughter alive happens to possess the same enchanting golden hair as her late mother, making her the only eligible new wife in her father’s eyes.
Don’t get me wrong. Most of the original fairytales were quite terrifying and somehow disturbing. But what truly struck me when reading this one was on one hand the outstanding beauty of a Cinderella-style reminiscent tale, having princess Allerleirauh attend three magical balls while wearing surreal dresses obtained through magic. On the other hand, the most impressive thing for me was the amazing strength that the heroine shows in her most traumatic moments.
Depending on the version of the story, it becomes unclear whether Alleirerauh is assaulted or not by her father, but she definitely flights from her childhood castle in a trial to shelter herself from any (further?) abuse. She picks herself up and runs away to a far away kingdom in order to hide from her father and begin a new life.
It is Allerleirauh’s inner strength that makes her find the courage to run away from the only family she had left and strive to make a living for herself instead of being overcome by her traumatic experience. A lot of original Brothers Grimm fairytale include trigger warning themes such as abuse and extreme sexism, but the cases where the heroines actually fight back are quite rare-if not mostly non-existent.
Most of the original fairytales
(and don’t even let me get started on Greek myths) end with the heroines marrying their abusive partner and finding happiness and love despite the traumatic beginning of their relationship. Other popular cases show princesses being saved by brave knights or royals that take them away from their abusers and, as a sign of gratitude, the heroines end up falling in love with their saviors and marry them in an everlasting happy ending scenery.
Trauma is rarely if ever addressed, and the princesses are either saved by heroes, or fooled into staying in an abusive relationship under the pretense of love. Allerierauh stands out with the princess’ strength to fight her way through salvation, while winning the king’s heart and getting the chance of overcoming her trauma and falling in love with someone that may finally show her real and healthy love.
Chantal Gadoury’s Allerleirauh retelling
Reading this memorable fairytale, I have become almost obsessed with finding a retelling novel that could give me a longer reading experience than the 10 pages story that I have come to love. This is how I came across Chantal Gadoury’s yet to be released book and I have become obsessed with wanting to read it. The cover seemed like a dream come true to me, and I was so certain that book will become one of my favorites.
I looked up a way to contact the author and I took the time to ask her to provide me an ARC in exchange for an honest review, a very common practice in the booking community. When the author actually replied to my e-mail and gave me a free copy, it was one of the most beautiful days of my life.
Chantal’s retelling Allerleirauh, takes the original tale and turns it into one of the most empowering and unique historical books I have ever read in my entire life. For the first time, the princess is being given a name- Aurelia– and we get to see in detail the little princess’ childhood. The book follows Allerleirauh’s perspective as she gets fooled into getting attached to her father, which only makes her an easy target for her father’s planned assault. She feels forced to flee the only place she has ever known in order to avoid facing more abuse by becoming his father’s new wife.
The tale the author so gracefully waves is raw and empowering, heart wrecking and full of hope. It must have been forever since I’ve felt such strong emotions while reading. I just wanted to embrace Aurelia the whole time and beg her to keep going. Chantal gave us a heroine to look up to, while rooting for her to succeed in getting a second chance at happiness.
We follow Aurelia’s steps as she is facing her trauma and finds refuge in the kingdom of Saarland der Licht. Her new life and new found friendship with Prince Klaus makes her find trust and hope again in a better tomorrow.
But Prince Klaus does not save Aurelia from her trauma or her past. The princess saves herself in this tale, which makes it the ultimate feminist story. She makes peace with the pain of betrayal and assault and comes to know love once again, but this time, with a kind and understanding prince that will only treasure her and help her heal.
The book is meant to be a response to the #metoo movement that took place during the previous year before this book was published. As far as I am concerned, Allerleirauh still shocks me to this day through the heroine’s courage and determination, as well as the raw and real way in which trauma and healing is portrayed.
It has been over 3 years ever since I read this book for the first time, but I can hardly remember the experience without getting goosebumps. This book was so evocative and beautiful, and it showed me that hope and healing are always possible despite the cruelty and unfairness of our past. For me, Allerleirauh by Chantal Gadoury remains an eternal symbol of feminism and hope in the times of aversion.