June's Literary Blog

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Monday, January 28, 2013

A Perfect Match

The weather has been so dank and cold these last few weeks, that I've been spending most of my afternoons bundled up in front of a warm fire. Of course, I am accompanied by a stack of books and my faithful companions, Sebastian and FrankieB, who have discovered that it is warmer curled upon the hearth than upon the couch. I actually have not ventured out of the house all year, except for short, daily walks with my hound to get the mail. However, last Thursday, I had a few personal errands to do, including grocery shopping and a quick trip to the Library to augment my stash of "must reads".

One of my literary finds was a small, green-covered hardback by Gregory Macguire, the gifted author of The Wicked Years: Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. I had thought I'd read everything he has, so far, written, including The Next Queen of Heaven: A Novel1, a wonderfully "wicked" tongue-in-cheek farce set in upstate New York just before the Millenium. When I read this two weeks ago, I discovered from the front matter "books by author" list that there was a Macguire I had missed. YES!

Written to be read on National Public Radio (NPR) during the 2008 Christmas Season,
Matchless: An Illumination of Hans Christian Andersen's Classic "The Little Match Girl"2 , is a perfect winter's tale, preferably read on a dank, sleety winter's day snuggled in front of the fire. Written and delightfully illustrated by the author, this short, four-part story is a re-write of Andersen's poignantly sad tale about a poor match girl. So poor, that she lights her last few matches in a futile attempt to keep warm on a cold, snowy winter's night.

Well, actually, this is not so much a re-write as a write-around—for Maguire has incorporated the classic story, basically intact, in Part Two of
Matchless; the only change being the switch of the little girl's grandmother for her mother. In his own inimitable style, Maguire adds an over-plot in the surrounding parts of Frederik, who just as poor as the match girl yearns for a better life for himself and his own mother. How the two children and their families intertwine is pure Macguire, whose talented imagination and lyrical, almost poetic prose captivates the mind, touches the heart, and rejuvenates the soul.

I don't want to say much more, for much more would greatly lessen the impact of this small, but mighty—shall I say?—parable. For that is what this book is: a deceptively simple, illuminating narrative parable about the complexities of life as we know it, what may lie beyond, and the bonds that bridge the gap. In a few words and a modicum of insightful well-turned phrases, Maguire has once again cut deep to expose the spiritually uplifting side of human nature that often arises from the smoldering ashes of spent matches.

For those of us suffering from the winter doldrums, this book will uplift our spirits. For those of us longing for one more day of Holiday Joy, Matchless will put us right back into the Spirit of Christmas. Maguire's writing is a unparallel gift brought to life and light in this sweet, little anecdotal present. It is, in fact, practically matchless.
1 © 2009 by Gregory Maguire. Hardback, First Edition published by William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY.
2 © 2009 by Gregory Maguire. 347 pages. Paperback. First Edition published in 2010 by William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY.

1:36 pm est          Comments

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June J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations, two volumes of poetry, stories for children (of all ages) and a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Miss Elmira's Secret Treasure: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
Colonial Theatre: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Roarin' 20s 
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Columbia Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members

Adventures of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Spinach Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A Collection of More Spiritual Poems

We Three Kings

Beauty and the Beast


Noah's Rainbow

Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding Hood



Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She is currently working on her sixth novel.

June's novels can be purchased at amazon.com, through Barnes and Noble,
at the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area,
the Gateway Pharmacy in Phoenixvile, PA

For more information about her musicals, which are also available on amazon.com,