Thursday, 5 March 2009

Series spotlight - Edgerton Hall trilogy by Adele Geras

There are so many good books that have been out in the market for ages. Series Spotlight is to introduce readers to series they may not have heard of before and will be featured every week. This seems to have become a Thursday thing, so I’m going to make it official and say that Series Spotlight will be featured every Thursday.

Today’s spotlight is a series of connected short stories – The Edgerton trilogy by Adele Geras. The three stories each focus on one of three best friends who share the Tower Room at Edgerton Hall, where they are completing their last year of school before leaving for University. They are modern(ish) retellings of the stories Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, set in the 1960s at a strict boarding school. For the people who have just winced and gone ‘not more fairy stories!’ I’d like to add that they’re not fairytales and there’s no magic. They are just clever retellings of the original stories. Each of them includes the main themes of friendship, growing up and falling in love.
The Edgerton trilogy has been published together in one book, Happy Ever After, and if you want to buy this series, I recommend you get this. It’s easier to follow if you read the books together and has a lovely cover as well.
(The books say they are unsuitable for younger readers and I would agree)

The Tower Room:
The first story seems to be more of an introduction to the friends. It’s main character Megan is a ward of one of the teachers at the school, who has just hired a science assistant – young and male. At a girls school this is bound to cause trouble, but Megan is surprised to find that he seems interested in her. The Tower Room is told from alternating perspectives of at Edgerton Hall and some mysterious place afterwards, where she reminisces on the events that led to her being there.
The Tower Room is my least favourite of the stories and Megan is my least favourite character. Still, it’s a good introduction to the characters and their world and it gives more context for the other stories.

Watching the Roses:
Alice is the shy, quiet one of the group. The story begins after the Tower Room and something has happened to Alice. As the story progresses, it’s clear that she is traumatised by something, although what is kept hidden for much longer. As she says in the beginning;
‘I decided not to speak a week ago, and since then not one word has passed my lips.’
Watching the Roses is written as a diary in a notebook of her father’s that Alice found. He was an expert on growing roses, and throughout the tale are names of roses with descriptions of them that he has supposedly written. Underneath, Alice has added her own comments about the roses that she can see from her window.
Watching the Roses is my favourite of these stories. I like that Adele Geras didn’t go for the obvious option of putting sleeping beauty in a coma, she just puts her in a state of withdrawal.

Pictures of the Night:
Finally, Bella’s story! While Alice’s is my favourite story, Bella is still my favourite character. She is the outgoing, confident, knowledgeable one, the type of friend you might want to hate but can’t. Bella is staying (secretly) with a band that she sings with. They have been offered the chance to perform in Paris and Bella goes with them.
Once again, Adele Geras defies the stereotype of a wicked stepmother. Marjorie is simply jealous and foolish. The elements of the traditional story – a poisoned apple, a tight corset, are cleverly worked in throughout all of the Edgerton short stories. I love how the author hasn’t ignored the aspects of the traditional stories that would prove difficult, but cleverly twisted them in anyway. Bella is so full of life and energy that it’s impossible not to like her.

The Edgerton Hall trilogy aren't the best books ever written, but they are an interesting concept, the stories weave together neatly, and they have great characters. I would recommend them to someone looking for something different, or anyone who is getting tired with all the fairytale retellings around.


  1. Thanks for spotlighting these - they look like books I'd really enjoy!

  2. Firstly.. cool character names! (Alice and Bella. Nice).

    Secondly, I've seen these at work, but have never really looked at them. Thanks for the spotlight, I'm going to have a look at them tomorrow!

  3. I didn't notice that about Alice and Bella. Strange coincidence =)
    Have a look and see what you think. They won't suit everyone, but I quite enjoyed them.