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Cyrano    by Geraldine McCaughrean order for
by Geraldine McCaughrean
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)

* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Geraldine McCaughrean has taken Edmond Rostand's immortal play, Cyrano, and turned it into a novel. It's good that she cites the novel as being from the play by Edmond Rostand as much of the story is almost word for word from the play, and a lot of the action close to that in the movie.

Cyrano is a timeless story involving the ultimate love triangle. Cyrano is a poet hopelessly in love with his cousin Roxanne. However, he believes she could never return his love due to his long and ugly nose. When she confesses that she likes a new member of his regiment, Cyrano jumps at the chance of helping her love Christian, woo her through letters and witty conversation. Roxanne is so much in love with Christian that she never realizes that his words are actually Cyrano's until it is too late.

The story of Cyrano is a beautiful one, and McCaughrean does a good job of creating a vehicle to tell the story to readers who are unable to read or see the play. I, however, found it a little too close to the play which I had studied twice in college. At times, I could quote what the characters were about to say. Granted, there are some memorable lines that make Cyrano Cyrano, so the author had to include them. McCaughrean also provides something that cannot be found in a play or a movie: the inner thoughts of the characters. This adds some depth to the story that is not found in a more visual version.

While the addition of the characters' thoughts made Cyrano more novel-like, there is one big thing missing that will disappoint many historical fiction fans: the lack of description reflecting the time period. Characters are never described much more than by physical traits - although we do know that Cyrano is never without his white panache (plume) worn in his hat. Places are not described at all; the author tells us where the story is happening, but no imagery is added to bring that place to life. McCaughrean places her emphasis on the story and the characters, not the world around them, which does make for a much shorter book than typical of historical fiction, but I believe most readers would prefer more detail about time and place.

Overall, this version is a great introduction to the story of Cyrano, his nose, and his beloved. I, however, prefer the original by Edmond Rostand - but for readers who cannot get through a script, this is a good substitute.

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