A Disguise of the Worst Sort

Are you familiar with the fairy tale “The Goose Girl?” It’s a favorite of mine. You can look up the details online, but the basic idea of the plot is this:

A young princess is to be sent to a foreign kingdom to marry the prince/king (varies a bit depending on the version you read). She has a magical horse named Falada that she will bring with her. Her mother gives her a special handkerchief to bring with her. On the trip to the foreign kingdom, her handmaiden enacts a plot against her with the help of some of the guards. The handmaiden takes her place and goes to the kingdom in her stead, claiming to be the princess. The real princess also reaches the foreign kingdom, but without her name and position. She takes a job as a goose girl while she tries to figure out what to do.

The goose boy, Conrad, resents her joining him with the geese. Meanwhile, the real princess discovers that she has wind powers. The handmaiden/fake princess is worried that the horse, Falada, will give her away, so she has him killed and his head mounted on a post as a warning to the true princess.

Conrad plays a prank on the real princess and she gets back at him with her wind magic. Conrad tells the king that there’s something weird about the princess, and he calls the princess before him.

In some versions of the story, the princess physically cannot talk about the switch (in some, she can, but she doesn’t initially because she doesn’t think she’ll be believed). The king realizes this somehow and suggests that she talk to an inanimate object and tell her story to it, that way she isn’t talking to a person.

So the princess climbs into a stove and tells the stove the story. The king is nearby and hears the truth about the impostor.

He has the impostor princess brought before him and tells her that the goose girl has been claiming to be the princess, and what punishment does she think appropriate for an impostor? Pleased, she thinks up the worst punishment she can: the impostor should be dragged through the streets in a barrel with nails poking into it.

Of course, the handmaiden does not realize that the king knows the truth, and the punishment is used on her instead (reminds me a bit of the book of Esther in the Bible). Happy ending for all.

Why is this all relevant? Well, my latest novella, A Disguise of the Worst Sort, is very loosely based on the Goose Girl fairy tale. There’s no wind magic or Falada the horse, but there *is* a handkerchief and a magic spell. The “handmaiden” in this case is Caroline Bingley. When Mr. Darcy returns to Longbourn shortly after the Netherfield Ball and speaks with Elizabeth Bennet’s father, her father is unable to say no to his request for marriage. So Elizabeth is sent to Pemberley to wed the arrogant, obnoxious Mr. Darcy. The Bingleys give her a ride, but she does not realize that Caroline Bingley has a good reason for acceding to this plan.

Miss Bingley uses a bit of faerie magic to switch the two women, and the “Miss Elizabeth” who arrives at Pemberley to marry Mr. Darcy is really Caroline Bingley!

Elizabeth might be stuck in Miss Bingley’s body, but she is not helpless and not about to give in. Even the awful Mr. Darcy does not deserve to be stuck with Miss Bingley! Being at Pemberley gives her an opportunity to learn more about the man himself even as she is struggling to find a way to reverse the spell before the wedding can take place.

Since the story takes place in the days leading up to Christmas, I’m hoping to release the novella at the beginning of December! So keep your eyes open for it. I already have a cover, and it’s amazing!


4 thoughts on “A Disguise of the Worst Sort

  1. Rebecca L McBrayer

    I just finished this and it was great!! Such a fun premise and the fantasy element actually lessened the angst a bit for me- a definite benefit for my life right now. Thanks for writing! My 16 yr old daughter and I cheer each time we see you have published a new book. Merry Christmas!


    1. Sarah

      I’m glad you liked it! That’s so cool that you share fanfic with your daughter. 🙂 My 13-year-old daughter enjoys reading JAFF books, too, and I love when I come across ones that I can share with her. Merry Christmas!


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