While working to finish The Factory Girl and the Fey, I went looking for books that might compare. Having not expected to write a “fairy tale,” I wondered if anyone else had written a story in the way I have.
My search has led me down an exciting rabbit hole, one where I am finding people who love folklore and fairy tales. It’s an exciting search, and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine is one of the nuggets of gold I found along the way. It’s not similar to my story, but it’s still a lot of fun and well worth mentioning here.
The Girls at the Kingfisher club is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, a German fairy tale that’s part of the Brothers Grimm collection (which themselves are retellings!). In the original story, twelve princesses were locked in their room every night by their father, but each night they would sneak out and go dancing. Every day their shoes were worn out. He invited suitors to vie for the right to marry one of the princesses. They had three days, and the requirement was for them to figure out how they were getting out of the house. If the prospective suitors didn’t figure it out in three days, they were put to death. Many men tried and failed, reaching their brutal end. Because it’s a fairy tale, though, someone figured out how they did it. He was rewarded with marriage to the oldest daughter.
In the retelling, the setting is Manhattan during the Roaring 20s. Our princesses are twelve daughters of a wealthy man who has no interest in his daughters whatsoever. His wife died in a final attempt to bring forth a son. Jo, the oldest, and Lou, the sister to which she is closest, fall in love with dancing and teach the younger girls how to do it. They sneak out into the night to the speakeasys to dance.
Naturally, problems arise, especially once the father catches on to what they’re doing.
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is a tale of patriarchy, but it is also a tale of the resilience and strength of women. It is also a glimpse into a fascinating period of American history. There are no fairies in this fairy tale, but it’s a great example of how fairy tales can be used as a basis for new and enjoyable stories. I’ll be sharing more of these in future blog posts.
If you enjoy this blog, please consider purchasing one of my books. More information on the titles can be found here. The Factory Girl and the Fey will be available in October 2021. Stay tuned for more details!