The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Briar Rose is one of the Fairy Tale Series created for Ace, then later published by Tor. Briar Rose is a later book in the series. Each novel in the collection is by a different author and is a twentieth century story based on a traditional fairy tale.

In this case, the basis is “Sleeping Beauty.” The heroine of Briar Rose is Becca Berlin, a young Jewish woman who grew up hearing her grandmother (nicknamed Gemma) tell the tale. Shortly before Gemma dies, she tells Becca that the familiar bedtime story is no fantasy: The old woman was the princess who woke to a prince’s kiss. Gemma begs Becca to find the castle where it happened, and her granddaughter promises to do so.

Gemma’s background is a mystery even to her family. All Becca has to guide her is a box of Gemma’s mementos, discovered only after the grandmother’s death, and the fact that Gemma immigrated to America in 1944. Even the immigration papers turn out to be nearly useless, however; many of the questions on them are unanswered, and Becca is not sure the papers are her grandmother’s. She deciphers them and learns that they belong to Gitl Rose Mandlestein, who was married and pregnant. Gitl’s physical description fits Gemma, but the only nickname listed is Ksiniczka. Becca is stunned when she learns that the name is Polish for “princess.” The date of Gitl’s marriage and her home village and district in Poland are not provided.

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(The entire section is 567 words.)