Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales is one part warning and one part fairy tale. It’s broken up into about a dozen short stories, half of which follow the course of Rosie Little’s life experiences, the other half following the mishaps of several random women. Rosie’s penchant for red and her reference to an abusive boyfriend as “the Wolf” make her a modern day Little Red Riding Hood. Except RL has a fairy godmother that keeps popping up in the most unexpected of places.
The book highlights some of the more important cornerstones and moments of a girl’s life, including: virginity, truth, travel, beauty, art, love, commitment, marriage, work, longing, loss, and destiny.
At some points Wood seemed a bit muddled on whether or not her book was going to be pure fiction or fairy tale. Much of the book seems perfectly “normal” but several of the stories (and parts of Rosie’s life) have supernatural elements thrown in. I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially the magical parts, but I think it could’ve been a tad more stitched together.
Rosie also scattered tidbits of wisdom throughout. This one was my favorite:
A Word from Rosie Little on Facial Lines
No doubt your mother, or some other responsible adult in your life, warned you about pulling faces when a change in wind direction was on the cards. Of course, the idea that you could end up with the tip of your tongue lodged permanently in a nostril just because the breeze swung to the east sounds as ridiculous as green vegetables putting hairs on your chest, or the marrow in your bones melting because you sat too close to a fire. But on reflection (my own reflection, as it happens, in my very own bathroom mirror), I’ve decided that the saying about pulling faces is not an entirely silly one after all.
Get on a bus full of old people and you’ll understand what I mean. It’s easy to pick the woman who’s spent her life indulging herself in moral indignation, tightening her lips against mothers who are too young, mothers who are too old, young men with dangerous-looking haircuts, and Winifred Martin going off with May Charleston’s husband, and at their age, honestly. Yes, you’ll be able to pick her in a trice, since she’ll be the one with the cat’s arse where her mouth ought to be.
I once met a monk called Father Basil and I can attest to the fact that a life of contemplation does magnificent things for your skin in old age. Sit around all day with a beatific smile on your face, pondering the beauty of nature and the essential goodness of humanity, and you really will end up with your face permanently set in an expression of deep serenity. It’s too late for me, of course, to achieve such a thing. At just past thirty, I’ve already laid the groundwork for my old woman’s face, and what with all the bemused and quizzical faces I’ve affected in my time, I’m bound to be a very puzzled-looking octogenarian. Oh, that wind is out there all right. It just takes a few years for it to change you.
4 paths to grandma’s house of 5