BOOK REVIEW: Matchless

Gregory Maguire, the master of re-envisioned fairy tales, has recreated Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Little Match Girl,” and in the process, made the best Christmas gift for literature buffs. Maguire made a few changes to the original tale; instead of being set on New Year’s Eve, Maguire’s version takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Also, where the original had the little match girl dreaming of her deceased grandmother, Maguire made it her mother. With this retelling, Maguire hoped to bring new resonance to the story of the poor girl who freezes because she can’t go home until she’s sold at least one match, a tale that, he writes in an afterward, “has come to seem too bleak for modern audiences.” Maguire succeeds in striking up the readers pity for this little girl, whose death unites two people and their families. Truly heartening, this holiday story is matchless.