Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon book thoughts
Author: Carolyn Turgeon
Published Date: March 1st, 2001
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Source: I bought it
# of Pages: 240
Read: May 2017
"Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning, as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom.
Meanwhile, the mermaid Princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart..."
TW: Self harm
I read this because, while it's been awhile, I do remember liking Disney's Little Mermaid, I like mermaids and it was on my Top 15 list to read for this year, and mermaid may. It's the only mermaid book I got to this month, which is sad as I didn't care for it too much, though I didn't hate it either.
There is a love triangle and i've learned, I don't care for love triangles apparently or it could just be this book, not sure. That isn't why it only got 3 stars though, I could deal with the love triangle personally. It's just that the plot, while good at first, kinda went downhill for me. Though right from the beginning it was very religion heavy and...seemed preachy to me. I get that was part of the world though but I didn't appreciate it myself. I wasn't sure how to feel about the chronic pain from Lenia being turned human. I have chronic pain myself and while I didn't find it problematic myself I also didn't seem to get that part..I don't remember that from a Disney movie but maybe it was part of the original Hans tale? I have no idea as I've never read that. It just seemed off to me but I can't put my finger on why.
It read like a young adult book but had some sex in it, though I didn't find it graphic, aside from describing the naked mermaids breasts. I did find the sex scenes awkward and a..apparently masturbating scene (it's rather awkward if you ask me) where Margrethe realized in horror what she had done afterwards and starting praying for forgiveness. I'm sorry if your beliefs find masturbating a sin but frankly that doesn't sit well with me because that thinking is harmful to a person. There is nothing wrong with masturbating and is a rather healthy thing to do. Pleasure, in this sense at least, is not a bad thing. I'm all for people having different beliefs as long as they aren't hurting anyone and I can't help but see this as people hurting themselves..which isn't right either. (This is not the self harm referred to in the TW, just to clarify) I find it mentally harmful. Masturbating is a stress relief and a healthy way to explore your own body and pleasure, and no risk of unwanted pregnancy or STI'S! :) Ok, off that rant now...
There is a supernatural pregnancy that, frankly, didn't make any sense. I don't want to spoil it so I won't say more but it didn't make any sense to me.
The main characters, Lenia and Margrethe, I liked well enough (especially Lenia in the beginning because mermaid!), but they ended up feeling like nothing more than 2-dimensional and focused solely on the hot prince. Lenia is obsessed with getting a human soul...which fair enough, souls are awesome, but of course it can only be granted through a man. They just didn't seem to have any depth or development to me.
The book also seemed unnecessarily old fashioned. There were several themes barely touched on in the book and didn't seem to be explored at all. It felt like a missed opportunity to modernize a retelling of The Little Mermaid and bring a fresh, relevant perspective to rather outdated themes.
The ending felt like a cop-out to me. It seemed too easy and neat and didn't impact me like I had thought it would. It honestly felt cheated.
From someone else's review, Jessica on Goodreads "Mermaid follows its inspiration, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, closely—so closely, in fact, that the need for Turgeon’s rewrite becomes uncertain. As in the original story, a young mermaid sacrifices her voice, family, and life in the underwater kingdom for a chance to win a human prince’s love and gain a soul. As an allegory, Andersen’s The Little Mermaid can be studied as a story of self-sacrifice and suffering required for spiritual immortality. Andersen’s mermaid ultimately surrenders her life to save that of her beloved, and in turn gains spiritual transcendence. Turgeon only briefly touches upon these themes, instead devoting the bulk of her novel to a trite love triangle." Review Here as it really says better than I can a lot of the same feelings I have about the book.
I normally wouldn't link another's review like that but I didn't know how to really say it myself especially without having read Andersen's The Little Mermaid, but I did find it to echo my own thoughts so take that as you will. I feel the book could have been fleshed out more and did itself a dis-service with how short it was, by not delving deeper into some themes and the ending that felt cheated in a way (only way I can describe it).
I did find it readable and fast. I liked parts of it, I didn't hate any of the characters and I did get a little teary (though not full on crying...i'm an easy crier at books). I'm not sure what else to say. I don't really recommend this book but if you decide to pick it up, I hope you like it more than I did.