Danielle Wood’s Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales for Girls presents a parade of confrontations with the universal (yet always somehow unexpected) intricacies of life. Wood livens her stories with a casual wit, restrained fairytale twists, and an unflinching yet non-melodramatic willingness to address topics like abortion, domestic abuse, infidelity and teenage sexuality.
Wood’s book represents, perhaps, a decided attempt to write about and for women while maintaining a healthy distance from chick-lit’s stereotypical neat, perky prose. To portray and embrace a smart female voice without venturing into a mere adaptation of the fashionable cynicism of the typical clever young male narrator is, of course, a tricky task. Wood manages this, with a few stumbles.
While the dreamy, fairytale-esque inclination that inhabits several of Rosie’s tales occasionally seems a bit out of place within the more straightforward, realistic narration, it helps to conjure a hopeful, wandering, embarrassed, occasionally love struck, and ultimately essentially familiar persona that lives the usual in an unusual way.