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The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story Hardcover – January 17, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Q & A with Theodora Goss

Q: How did the idea for this peculiar love story come about?

A: It all started last summer, when my editor called me. He had an idea: a book in an accordion format. He mentioned that, because the format would be so important, I might want to include a book in the story itself. I think that's when I first got the idea for The Book of the Green Knight. It was all there, in the proposal: the whole story, or at least the general outline of it. As for the love story itself, it's based in part on a real love story, or my imaginative interpretation of it. At some point, Evelyn and Brendan took over and started telling me what had happened to them. I think it always happens that way, when you're writing a book.

Q: How did the book's unique format influence the evolution of the story?

A: It made writing a technical challenge! First, I wrote Evelyn's story. Next, I wrote Brendan's story as I was reading Evelyn's, matching events and scenes. And then, I revised Evelyn's story based on Brendan's, and Brendan's based on Evelyn's. Each time, events from the other story would inform my writing or revisions. So something would happen in Brendan's story, and I would have to go back and make sure it happened in Evelyn's as well.

Q: Each side of the story is carefully written. How did you decide which details would go into Brendan's or Evelyn's story?

A: I don't think I decided, actually. While I was writing each story, I was completely in the mind of the character from whose perspective I was writing. So while I was writing Evelyn's story, I saw it from her perspective. I wrote what she would see and know. And the same for Brendan's story. I think that part of the writing process came more naturally than you might expect. The details that were important to these characters were the ones that ended up in their narratives.

Q: Where should a reader start, with Brendan's or Evelyn's story?

A: Readers can start with either story: each choice will give them a slightly different experience. And it might be a good idea, once you've finished both stories, to go back to the one you started with, because at that point you'll have a different understanding of it.

Q: There is so much evocative imagery throughout the book. Were you inspired by your own life or was it purely imagination?

A: It always seems to be both. I've never been to Cornwall, so the parts of the story set there are based in part on research. (I still remember looking at restaurant menus to figure out what you might eat for lunch in a Cornish restaurant.) But details are based on my own experiences. The forest is based on forests I've been in, and the scene in the woods was based on an actual experience, although it was certainly less fantastical than the one I describe. The university is definitely based on my own experiences! I've been a graduate student and faculty member, so I know what it's like in academia. But in the end, a book is never created entirely by its writer. Readers will imagine these things for themselves, each in a different way. The forest will be the forests they've walked through; the love story will be relationships they've experienced. And that's as it should be. That's what reading's all about--participating in the story.


“It's a beautiful book, both inside and out, and truly a treasure on every appreciable level.”—Bookslut

“Double the love story, double the fun for fantasy readers.”—McClatchy Newspapers

“Goss has written some of the most remarkable short fantasy fiction of recent years.”—The Guardian (UK)
“Teens who enjoy a romantic tale will be enchanted by the clever packaging and the fanciful, touching story of young people thwarted in love.”—School Library Journal
“A book unlike any you've seen before.”—Westword

“Goss' appealing characters and modern magic atmosphere will continue to attract a following.”—Publisher’s Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 82 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books; Box Nov edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159474551X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745515
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Theodora Goss was born in Hungary and spent her childhood in various European countries before her family moved to the United States. Although she grew up on the classics of English literature, her writing has been influenced by an Eastern European literary tradition in which the boundaries between realism and the fantastic are often ambiguous. Her publications include the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting (2006); Interfictions (2007), a short story anthology coedited with Delia Sherman; Voices from Fairyland (2008), a poetry anthology with critical essays and a selection of her own poems; The Thorn and the Blossom (2012), a novella in a two-sided accordion format; and the poetry collection Songs for Ophelia (2014). Her work has been translated into nine languages, including French, Japanese, and Turkish. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Locus, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, and on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Her prose-poem "Octavia is Lost in the Hall of Masks" (2003) won the Rhysling Award and her short story "Singing of Mount Abora" (2007) won the World Fantasy Award.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is a romance story; from two different point of views! It's clever in how it's set up. The book has no book end, or binding. So, you read it one way and get the woman's side of the romance and then you flip the book over and read it the other side, and you get the man's view point. (Or vice versa!)

As much as I think the no binding is cool---and unique---I repeatedly dropped this book or had the pages fly open like an accordion. It was kind of annoying. I even ripped some of the pages because it's difficult to hold. With that said, I give them an A for effort but overall found the set-up inconvenient.

The book itself is an easy read. It took me maybe an hour to read both of the stories. It's an interesting, short romance story that has some interesting twists. The story went in a completely different direction than I thought.

With that said; if I were to recommend to anyone about buying this book, it would be because it is a cute read and the binding (or lack of binding) is unique. However, I do not think it's worth the $10 kindle price because with both the stories together; you are maybe getting 80 pages to read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Yes, you can open the book in either direction, but I'm happy I read Evelyn's story first. Maybe it doesn't make a difference but I recommend reading that way.

This is a good story in a format that I have never encountered before now. It is a fantasy where cursed starcrossed lovers are seemingly reunited through time. It is romantic, sad and of course you are led to believe that all could possibly work out in the end.

I loved that it was in this quirky format, beautifully packaged. This book would make a lovely gift for Valentine's Day, an anniversary, or just for a loved one. It is $11.53 on pre-order, but worth it for the quality of the book, the lovely story and its giftability. Actually it's a bargain for all that you get.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This little book is really two intertwined short stories. It tells of a love affair that began in the Middle Ages and that has persisted (more or less) till the present, with the lovers being repeatedly reincarnated. It's also about each lover finding his or her true self and place in life. The modern protagonists are Evelyn Morgan and Brendan Thorne. Their stories are told separately from each point of view, in an elegant conceit that's really half the purpose of the book. The pages fold out accordion style, and you just follow the right printed surface. It's easy, although since the book has no spine, you do need to manually hold it together. After reading it, you can shelve it in its little cardboard case printed with a subdued image of rambling flowers, like a detail in a medieval tapestry.

The plot is so slight that all I can say without revealing too much is that it's related to "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and that in this life, the protagonists both study medieval literature. The book is somewhat repetitive, as the author has chosen to describe most of the same incidents twice, with identical dialog. The language is simple. It's a charming little work, but one you'd choose as a gift for a romantic you know (preferably a teenager or young adult) rather than as a substantive literary read for yourself.
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Format: Hardcover
How I got this book: I burrowed it from the Once and Future Librarian and she received it from the publisher.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Review :

The Thorn and the Blossom was unique reading experience , for the book itself is an accordion style book that opens with one side being the story of Brendan and the other side the story of Evenlyn. To honor that uniqueness, you will only be getting one side of the review from me, for the other half of the story (Brendan's Story) you will have to go to the Once and Future Librarian. I will be sharing Evelyn's side of the story. Evelyn takes a trip to Clews in order to relax and escape a problem she has had since childhood. What she never thought would happen was that she would find a local boy that was more fated to be with her than she might have even known and is tied to a story that runs deep for both Evelyn and Brendan. This book left me with the question can you really run away from fate and does true love last forever. This book brought together love, fate, loss and the power of a good story. The entire book was written in a way that makes you feel that Evelyn's love story with Brendan is something of a poem or medieval fable. The style of writing for me was a bit like poetry, in the way it flowed. I found that the story jumped around a bit too much for me with no clear definition of when or where. I believe this book had wonderful potential but fell a little flat with the follow through. I agree with Kary from The Once and Future Librarian [...] , this would make a good "gift book". I also think it would make a good book to discuss in an English class about styles of writing, medieval stories, and poetry.
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Format: Hardcover
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Whatever else there is to say about this book, it's a lovely concept, and beautifully executed. It is called a "Two-Sided Love Story", and this is literal: we are able to read the story from the point of view of each of the lovers. Rather than being bound like an ordinary book, the pages are strung together in accordion folds, sandwiched between two very pretty covers, and encased in a gorgeous slipcover. When one story is finished, the book is turned around, and the end of one leads into the beginning of the other. It's a charming idea, and quite unique.

Unfortunately, one reason for its uniqueness might be its awkwardness. It's a story more than a book - each side being only about 40 square-ish pages; anything longer would have been almost impossible to read without spreading the book out in one long scroll and reading it that way. The back side of whichever story is being read has to be held together in order to allow the reading to progress normally. It might have been helpful if there had been some sort of strap incorporated into the design which would take the place of and do the job of a spine.

Also unfortunately, the slight little tale told in this unusual book did not, for me, live up to the charming format. There are almost-connections and near-mysticism, and fits and starts of love affairs - in short, the story was as awkward in a way as the format, when it had promised as much. In the end I was disappointed and unsatisfied by both the story and the characters. I simply didn't like the main characters, and to me the magickal elements fitted poorly with the mundane, both in the story and in the characters' lives.
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