Book Review – Transformations by Anne Sexton


Transformations by Anne Sexton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am always interested in fairytale retellings. I’ve read Michael Cunningham’s rough take on the familiar stories; Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber, dark and full of unvarnished guts. Transformations was the first time I have read fairytales in the form of poetry for a while, and I absolutely loved this take. It felt like going back to what tales used to be. Not necessarily what these specific tales were, but how those older were presented, all in poetry, in some form of meter, bringing the reader or auditor into a certain rhythm (or even throwing the reader completely off it).

Anne Sexton tells each fairytale – some familiar, some new to me – in their traditional ways, though her thoughts come into it like an omnipotent presence knowing the ways humans are, the hearts of man. Knowing where things will go wrong and why – all in poetic psychology.

I was not bored for a moment. Each poem-tale had me compelled to read on, to find out what sort of revelation would appear at the end. I saw the characters differently from how I traditionally know them. I would have never realized without Sexton’s take that the stepmother in all her jealousy was in love with the maiden; that the kind man was more afraid than anyone else of being cheated in life. I cannot get over how terribly human Sexton makes each character, and I want more.

I really have no criticisms to give on this collection of poetry, and I am eager to read more of Anne Sexton’s work.

I recommend Transformations to anyone who loves fairytales and real, human characters.

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