Tuesday, August 18, 2009

REVIEW: Cyrano by Geraldine McCaughrean

I just finished reading Cyrano by Geraldine McCaughrean. I admit it, what attracted me to this book initially is its size (a mere 167 pages) and the beautiful cover. Then, on the front cover there is written 'For anyone who's ever been hopelessly in love' and on the back it says 'The most romantic story ever told' High praise indeed, and a lot to live up to.

I don't know much of the story of Cyrano de Bergerac so I have no idea how this retelling compares with the play by Edmond Rostand. Maybe someday I will look up the original. As it turned out, when I first started reading Cyrano, what flashed through my head the most is an image of Steve Martin in the film Roxane. And when you're picturing the romantic lead in a love-story, I guarantee you, it is difficult to muster up the right sort of feelings when all you can think of is Steve Martin.

But I guess that's really the issue, isn't it? How much importance is image and appearances when choosing a romantic partner? Cyrano is madly in love with his cousin, Roxane, but is too ashamed of his enormous nose to tell her the truth. So instead, he helps another man, Christian, to woo Roxane, writing for him pretty things to tell Roxane.

Honestly? I found Christian to be quite dull. And Roxane to be vain and shallow. Cyrano was over the top and a little cheesy. But I still enjoyed the story. I shed a tear at the end. Possibly because I can relate to Cyrano's feelings of inadequacy and also the element of self-sacrifice on his part is one that I find particularly appealing. Plus Geraldine McCaughrean writes so beautifully. The letters that Cyrano writes while he is at war are absolutely lovely. Luckily for me, Geraldine McCaughrean has written extensively. It will take awhile to get through her backlist!

What is your favourite retelling of a modern classic? What would you consider the 'greatest love story ever told?'

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