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Book Review: Happily Ever After: Folktales that Illuminate Marriage and Commitment
By: Linda Spitzer

Article by Linda Spitzer.

Meliss Bunce is interested in traditional stories and what they teach about relationships. This led her to give a workshop at the National Storytelling Conference, which ultimately led to the writing of this book and its collection of Marriage and Commitment Stories.

I once was asked to give a storytelling program on Love and Marriage and another day to tell stories at a bridal shower. I did my own research but it sure would have been much easier to have this book at my fingertips.

Meliss has retold 18 folktales devoted solely to the celebration of marriage and commitment. The selections of stories are … “humorous, poignant, provocative tales from around the world.”

She is to be commended not only for making her versions entertaining to readers and listeners but for suggesting that not only should these stories be retold by the reader, talked about, argued about with friends, but even suggests reading them out loud to a partner in bed!

Ms. Bunce has divided her book into 3 sections- successful relationships, cautionary tales that can wreck relationships and stories about misunderstandings and frustrations that every couple endures. Because of her own pleasure of seeking wisdom, at the end of each folktale Meliss has also written some personal views of why the story was meaningful to her in her own relationship.

Meliss explains in her introduction that she researched the culture of each folktale and keeps true to its traditions. She also gives names to every character as well as fleshes out the personality which makes the preparation to retell the folktale that much easier.

I really liked the first story in the book---a well told version of Morgan and the Pottle of Brains; called “What He Loves Best of All.” Wealth, Wisdom and Women” is a wonderful Eastern European tale that ends with a blessing for the HAE (happily ever after) relationship. I can see telling this story at an engagement party, wedding or anniversary party.

Like riddling tales? Try telling “One Hundred Coins” a Chinese riddle tale about a couple’s unwavering love. Versions of “The Mirror” and “Tiger’s Whisker”, “SealWife” are also included. After this story the question is asked: “Are you certain you know what your lover really wants and feels.” Dame Ragnell and Strawberries (Gayle Ross version) are at the conclusion.

Included are sources of Ms. Bunce’s research which are well-documented as well as additional resources for the storyteller.

I can recommend this book highly to storytellers of all levels, clergy, librarians, youth tellers and folks who are hooked on the HAE folktale (some do not end that way). These versions of traditional folktales that teach relationship concepts are delightfully retold.

Author Information:
Name: Linda Spitzer
The contents expressed in any article on are solely the opinion of author.

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