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An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy / A Fantastical Memoir [color illustrated edition] Paperback – March 24, 2014
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About the Author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Rosenberg LaForge was born and raised in Los Angeles and has worked as a journalist in California, Maryland, and upstate New York. She is the author of four volumes of poetry, including the full-length collection, With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women (The Aldrich Press, 2012). She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize; a storySouth Million Writers Award; and a Best of a Net compilation. She earned her bachelor's degree at UCLA and her master's from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She lives in New York with her husband and daughter.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Mary Ann Strandell has exhibited in national and international venues, including the inaugural Art Paris Abu Dhabi Art Fair. FIAC-Paris, Byron Cohen Gallery, Washington Pavilion of the Arts, The Dahl Art Center, and many other venues. She has been reviewed in Art Critical Magazine, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, and elsewhered by Ashley Emenegger. Her 2008 solo exhibit at Wells College, The String Room Gallery, Aurora, NY was curated by William Gannis. Her 2006 solo NY exhibition, Moveable Terrain at Michael Steinberg Fine Art was reviewed in The New Yorker magazine and The Village Voice. Aards include Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship Award, South Dakota Humanities Council grant, the Katherine Van Meter Sadock Lecture Award, and three Arts Midwest National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship Awards for Painting. Her work is included in many prominent corporate and private collections and in museums.
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One would expect, given such a unique style, that An Unsuitable Princess would require some particular skill or endeavoring on the reader’s part in order to best appreciate the book as a whole, but it’s a testament to LaForge’s ability – and perhaps her confidence therein – that the experience of reading this dual narrative feels surprisingly natural. Her alternating accounts are separated from each other by both the clarity of their unique atmospheres and the author’s dedicated tone. In the fantasy, the story of mute orphan Jenny and the young blacksmith Samuel is unraveled in a style that quickly draws the reader into its setting amid Renaissance England. Her characters – from the determined Sir Robert to the imposing Queen Marion – take vivid shape as the story follows Samuel’s determination to survive war and the unknown to be with Jenny. At comfortable and seemingly quite natural transition points, triggered by certain phrases or scenes in the fantasy, we’re brought forward in time to the real-world Laurel Canyon of the author’s childhood and young adult years, where she documents first her adventures in school and life before eventually getting to the heart of the matter, and the stories’ crucial point of relation: a boy named Sam. LaForge recounts their meeting as character volunteers at one of California’s renowned Renaissance faires in the decade when it was known more as a source of bawdy liberation than a family-friendly atmosphere; she explores the experiences they shared before finally resigning herself and her reader to the tragedy that waited at the end of their relationship. In this, the memoir that inspired the fantasy, her narrative is fast-paced and witty, but ultimately profound, infused with pop culture references that bring the world of her memories even more to life.
LaForge handles both the memoir and the fantasy story of An Unsuitable Princess with a caring and intimacy that strikes the reader’s emotions; it is clear in the words, in both the heartrending reality and the blissful imaginings, that the author is baring her deepest, most candid truth to her audience. Her efforts are applied with insight and heart; the combined nuances manifest into a gift as much for her reader, her family, and herself as it is for the memory of an imperfect time and the beauty of a young soul. Through a remarkable execution of prose and memory, LaForge unfolds her tales of fantasy and reality before the reader simultaneously and the result is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind experience.
(Review © Casee Marie, originally published on April 15, 2014 at LiteraryInklings.com. A copy of the book was provided for the purpose of review.)