The subtitle to Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s novel An Unsuitable Princess is A True Fantasy/A Fantastical Memoir. From the publisher’s description:

An Unsuitable Princess: The Story
Fantasy and memoir, contemporary and Renaissance times all converge in this duo of simultaneously-narrated tales. In the first, set in Renaissance England, a mute stable girl with mysterious healing powers has been inexplicably declared an outcast by the Queen. Rumored to be a witch, she is relegated to living in a barn with no hope for friendship or family. Yet those who know her — including a young man whose family raised her as their daughter and whose life she saved — fall inexorably in love with her gentle and seemingly magical ways. The second tale, told as a series of footnotes to the first, is a memoir of the author’s coming-of-age in L.A. in the 1970s where she’s an awkward, self-absorbed adolescent struggling to define herself amid Hollywood’s eclectic population of hippies, mid-list celebrities, drug addicts and suburbanites. It’s also a provocative reflection upon the author’s inspiration for the book’s Renaissance storyline, stemming from the guilt she’s harbored over the death of a high school sweetheart — as well as a sophisticated commentary on society and its values, the absurdity of our obsessions and how we too often fail to see the world around us.

Together the book’s dual stories leave readers to ponder the fine line between reality and the living fairy tales we weave in pursuit of happy endings.

I found myself at times wanting this one book to be two. I wanted Jane’s story told all at once, and then I wanted to know all of Jenny’s story.  But weaving the two stories together makes for an intriguing concept and the more I read in the book, the faster I read, wanting to see how the stories might converge.  I got sucked into both the stories, and was especially struck by the introspection in the memoir. It’s the kind of self exploration that comes from age and perspective and the distance of time.

Word choices in the book are sometimes lofty, true vocabulary words, but I do not find that off-putting.

My criticisms of the book are few.  I wish I knew more about some of the characters- that we needed a bit more backstory that we may have had if each story had been a separate book.  I also feel that resolution to one story came a bit too easily. I would have liked to see more about that particular relationship, although it is given closure.  I don’t know. Maybe I’m asking for it to be more melodramatic than it really needs to be.

At any rate, the concept here is quirky and interesting. It works.  I ended up with both an electronic and physical copy of the book. From a readability perspective, alternating between the stories, I found the physical book to be easier to read than the eBook.  If you’re a fan of memoirs and open to something that is conceptually different, this is one that I urge you to check out.


***I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.***

A bit about the author:

The Author
Jane Rosenberg LaForge, author of An Unsuitable Princess, writes both fiction and poetry.  After studying writing in the Kate Braveman workshops of the early 1990s in L.A., she received an MFA from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she was awarded a Delaney Fellowship for Women Writers.  Since 2000 she’s been an adjunct professor at New York University teaching college reading, composition, and literature.  Jane has published 4 volumes of poetry, including The Navigation of Loss (Red Ochre Press 2012) — one of three winners of the Red Ochre Press’ annual chapbook competition.  She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize (once for poetry, and once for fiction). She lives in Manhattan with her husband and daughter.