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5 Reasons Why the World Should Read Isabel Greenberg’s ‘The One Hundred Nights of Hero’ ASAP

24th October, 2017

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This book is brilliant! That can be your first reason to pick up this gorgeous book. Set in an imagined land in the medieval ages, One Hundred Nights of Hero is the story of women’s struggles of being heard in a world that isn’t very kind to them; beautifully embroidered with folk tales and myths.

A major portion of the story is set in the Empire of Migdal Bavel. Cherry, who is love with her maid, Hero, is married to Jerome. Jerome is an insensitive man who strikes a bet with his friend Manfred about how pure and innocent Cherry is. According to the terms of the wager, if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can claim Jerome’s castle and wife for himself.  Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, consoles Cherry and they make a plan to distract Manfred by narrating stories each night for 100 nights.

I love the word play here – the woman who tells stories as a silent rebellion is named ‘Hero’! Hero’s stories are fanciful, imaginative and tinged with love, betrayal, femininity and oppression. More reasons? Here you go:

1. Women-centric

Yes!! I want to shout this out from rooftops that all the main characters are women and they all touch your heart, be it as minor characters or main characters. God is a woman. Moon is a woman. The story tellers are women. And female friendships are valued throughout the book.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

2. Gorgeous art

The art is simply splendid. Greenberg alternates between a minimal palette of black and white to strips with a single dominant colour. This really sets the mood of each portion of the book.

3. Fantastic stories

Though there aren’t one hundred stories in the book, there are a lot of them. We start with the story of creation which was fantastic and instantly won my heart. After that we move on to stories told by Hero, some of which are just stories and some are true stories of her ancestors; some are familiar (like the story of the dancing princesses) and some are new.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

4.The gift of words

Women were not allowed to read or write. There is a story of five sisters whose mother passed on a ‘sinful and wicked skill to them… which was absolutely verboten for women in the Empire of Migdal Bavel to practice…But the sisters read and wrote in ink, charcoal, mud paint and pencil and they were not sorry.’ Needless to say, their story does not have a happy ending. Women were forced to be docile and answerable to men but some of them indulged in the luxuries of reading and writing that slowly led to the formation of ‘a secret society of story tellers.’

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

5. Reading between the lines

Beneath the sturdy exterior of a nice story, this book makes us think about how women were (are?) not given the same rights as men, how they struggled and fought, how they formed secret groups as an act of rebellion. Remember the protests for the right to vote, wage gap, rise of women writers in literature and many other milestones? You can find glimpses of all of them in Hero’s stories. There are stories that allude to the faint lines that overlap beliefs and the regimental structure of religion. By the end of the book, Hero and her ancestors  are synonymous for the women who have laid down their lives so that we (by we, I mean women specifically) can stand as equals to men. The book also touches on themes of how women and men perceive the world differently and makes the reader grieve for the martyrs in the book.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Final Verdict :

This is surely an investment for your bookshelves. Feminist themes, beautiful art work and captivating stories are capsuled within these nights. The characters are guaranteed to make you laugh, giggle and weep. We still have a long way to go. But there are many Heros in different names who are fighting battles, silent and otherwise, for the rest of us. And there are ‘Hero(s)’ in all of us. Never forget your stories. Remember them; tell them. We are all members of the League of Secret Story Tellers.

Read this book as soon as possible.

Title : The One Hundred Nights of Hero
Author : Isabel Greenberg
Publisher : Jonathan Cape
Publication: 2016
Language : English
Pages : 224
Rating : 5/5

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The One Hundred Nights of Hero

 

This Post Has 22 Comments
    1. Yes! It is expensive. I have been watching the prices myself for a very long time. Which is when I wished we had good public libraries with stellar books as these. Fingers crossed you will get a lightning deal. It is a wonderful read. You can check out Isabel Greenberg’s website. I remember reading two short stories (graphic ) on it when I was in a book hangover

  1. I’ve only dabbled in her books before (I thought I’d read one, but when I check my log, nothing is listed, so maybe it was one of those gathered-for-readathon-ing but didn’t actually get around to reading titles). This one does sound incredible. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. An illustrated novel with feminist themes? I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! I love how your blog reviews center on literary novels, which I love reading — I feel so inclined to pick up every book you review

  3. Thank you so much for the review and recommendation. My hands are itching to get hold of the book. I saw there is a kind of a prequel to this book: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. Is it necessary to read it before embarking on Hero?

    1. No it isn’t. I have not read Encyclopedia of Early earth and I was fine. Though after you read this you would be itching to read the first book. I heard that Hero is the better book out of the two if you are looking for reading/buying just one of the books in a review and I went by that.

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