Perhaps you've already heard of the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Maybe you remember the Disney movie from your childhood or maybe you've read Wendy Mass's book, Twice Upon a Time, No. 2: Sleeping Beauty: the One Who Took the Really Long Nap. However, did you know that fairy tales were originally written for an adult audience? Many were even violent. You may enjoy reading other versions of the Sleeping Beauty tale. If so, go to these two links: http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/forsleep.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping_Beauty. As Gemma does in this novel, each reteller of the tale altered the story to make it more appropriate to the moral point they wished to emphasize. Be sure to read Terri Windling's introduction at the beginning of the book.
So, what are the essential elements of the fairy tale genre? J. R. Tolkien listed the essentials elements as fantasy, recovery, escape, and consolation. Another writer believes an element of threat is also needed. Tolkien said that they need to show "recovery from deep despair, escape from some great danger, but, most of all, consolation."
While you're reading, be thinking of an answer to this question: How does the story of Gemma's life show the essential fairy tale elements of fantasy, recovery, escape, consolation, and threat? Look at her version of Briar Rose and at Potocki's account of her wartime experiences.
Also, be thinking of the answer to this question: How does the novel follow and deviate from the fairy tale? You should look for at least 3 examples from the book and at least 3 examples from the fairy tale. It matters not which version of the fairy tale you use.
You may begin discussing this topic in the comments section of this blog post.