Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.
Hiddensee: An island of white sandy beaches, salt marshes, steep cliffs, and pine forests north of Berlin in the Baltic Sea, an island that is an enchanting bohemian retreat and home to a large artists' colony-- a wellspring of inspiration for the Romantic imagination . . .
Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann-- the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann's mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier-- the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky's fairy tale ballet-- who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.
But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults-- a fascination with death and the afterlife-- and ponders a profound question: How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share.
The man who made the Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker ballet, heart of the holidays for audiences worldwide, has its roots in “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann, a German writer in the early 1800s whose characters often move between real and fantasy worlds. Hoffmann’s tale of a nutcracker presented to a young girl on Christmas Eve has been sweetened in retellings through the years (most notably by Alexandre Dumas), yet not one of the renditions of sugar plum fairies and battling mice has explained the origin of the titular Nutcracker . . . until now.
Gregory Maguire unlocks the secrets of the Nutcracker in an enchanting origin story.
Bestselling author Gregory Maguire drops readers behind the scenes of common childhood stories in such novels as Wicked, Mirror Mirror and After Alice, and in Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, Maguire sweeps his readers deep into the forests of 19th-century Germany while linking his story to mythology and folklore. Paying homage to Hoffmann’s original tale, Maguire keeps us enchanted with the life of Drosselmeier, called Dirk, a boy of desperate beginnings who will later become a toymaker and the godfather to Klara (the girl who will receive the Nutcracker) and whose interactions with the natural world make us long for the innocence and imagination of our own childhoods.
Dirk, raised in the forest as a foundling, leaves his miserable upbringing after a harrowing life-after-death experience, the catalyst for his connection to another dimension. His wide-eyed innocence serves him well as he traverses the bridge to manhood and the real world, yet in his heart he knows there is more in the trees and streams and animals than what he encounters. He just has so few people with whom he can share his secrets.
For those who are willing to hear and believe, Maguire unlocks the toymaker’s secrets—without sugar plum fairies but with plenty of mesmerizing mysteries and the magic of childhood.