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I have read a lot of fairy tales over the years. One of my favorites is a lesser known Grimm tale, Maid Maleen.

Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Maid Maleen was in love with a prince, but for whatever reason her father wouldn’t let them marry. When Maid Maleen said she wouldn’t marry any one else, the king had her and her waiting-woman locked up in tower, for seven years, with just enough food. When the food runs out, the princess and her maid realize no one is coming to let them out, so they use a bread knife to scrape through the mortar and rescue themselves. When they finally managed to break free of the tower, they found the kingdom destroyed and the king long since gone. Without knowing where to go, they finally arrived at the country of Maleen’s lover, and ended up working in the royal kitchen.

The prince was now engaged, thanks to his father to another princess, an ugly, wicked woman. On the day of the wedding, this woman is ashamed of her ugliness and afraid, so she threaten Maleen until Maleen takes her place in the wedding. Eventually, on the wedding night, when the ugly bride goes to the groom’s room, the prince figures out what happened. He called for Maleen and since she was the one he had actually married, they kissed each other, were happy all the days of their lives, and the ugly princess’s head gets chopped off for her falseness.

I like Maleen because she stood up to her father, who obviously did not have her best interests at heart. She escaped from the tower on her own without having to wait for a knight in shining armor to rescue her. She had to survive a long journey throughout the land, when no one would take pity on her and she had to eat whatever she could find. She ends up working in a kitchen, not even close to the life a princess would expect. She’s a tough lady. She didn’t want to take the bride’s place, only doing so when her life was threatened. She never divulges to the prince what happened, helping the “false bride” until he finally figures out that Maleen was truly the one he married. She doesn’t compromise and still gets the prince she loves and the happily ever after.

What’s your favorite fairy tale? Join in at Maureen’s Books.


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