The prolific author of popular adaptations of world classics (Tao Te Ching), translator (Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet) and commentator on religious texts (The Gospel According to Jesus), Mitchell here puts his talents to a slighter test with a modern retelling of the fairy tale ""The Frog Prince."" The story is familiar: a princess drops her golden ball down a well, a besotted frog rescues it and, in return, the princess promises to love the frog and let him eat from her plate, drink from her cup and sleep in her bed. Though the princess comes to regret her promise, the frog persists, and after a series of trials, he turns into a handsome prince. Mitchell's adaptation drapes this skeleton tale (which he calls the ""Condensed Version"") in philosophical asides and spiritual insights. Setting the story in an alternate 16th century plagued with Unusual Phenomena (""Magic was afoot everywhere. Things were getting out of hand""), in a castle on the river Loire, the author conjures up some inspired fantastic scenarios, particularly when he writes about magic as if it were historical reality. But his frequent digressions sometimes seem intended to stretch the narrative (""What makes a woman fall in love with a frog? Many women, since time immemorial, staring up at the bedroom ceiling in the dead middle of the night, have asked themselves the same question""), and references to the Tao Te Ching and the tenets of Eastern religions are incongruous. Insubstantial though it may be, however, the tale is gracefully told, and sympathetic readers will find it an appealing tribute to the original. 5-city author tour. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999 Release date: 10/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
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