Finishing Melanie Dickerson’s The Peasant’s Dream was bittersweet as it was the last book in her Hagenheim series. I have immensely enjoyed the adventures of the house of Duke Wilhelm, so I’m a little sad there won’t be anymore of them.
Like all of the Hagenheim books, this one is a fairy tale retelling, but set firmly in reality. This one is also new territory for Dickerson as it not only retells the fairy tale, but reverses it as well. Here we have a Cinderella story in which there is a princess, not a prince, and the mistreated peasant is a man, not a woman. Technically, Adela is the daughter of a duke, not a princess, but you know what I mean.
I can’t tell you how much I fell in love with Frederick, the woodcarver. Just like Cinderella, his main quality is kindness. It is that kindness that first draws Adela to him when she sneaks out into the market disguised as a peasant. Then their shared love of art - Adela’s painting and his woodcarving - draws them closer.
Therefore, it isn’t a ball where Adela meets Frederick in disguise. However, there is a ball, and I loved how Dickerson gave Frederick his own Cinderella transformation.
Adela, on the other hand, frustrated me at times. She is being courted by Lord Barthold throughout the story, and though he isn’t a villain by any means, it was still clear she had no feelings for him. She was so indecisive, I wanted to shake her at times. I think she was supposed to be portrayed as sheltered, but at times she came across a little shallow. Maybe this was intentional?
I also got frustrated with her parents a bit. While Lord Barthold is not an obvious villain, there were times he was entitled and rude, in my opinion. He acted like Adela was an object to be owned and got impatient when she wouldn’t just let him have her. In all the other books, Duke Wilhelm seemed like the kind of man who would pick up on that and defend his daughter, but he didn’t. He and Rose just kept going on and on about how Lord Barthold was a good man. Was he though? I mean, just because you aren’t evil doesn’t mean you treat women with love and respect. I want more for my own daughter than a guy who’s “not bad.” I realize that for the time period, Lord Barhold’s actions were acceptable, but Wilhelm and Rose had been portrayed as wanting more for their children than the status quo in previous books, so it disappointed me.
However, Frederick’s back story, his character, and his love for Adela made up for all of that. He was the true hero and main character of the story (despite the cover), and I spent the entire book rooting for him. Dickerson crafted a male version of Cinderella who was a strong, caring, Godly man of moral integrity. For that, I fell in love with this book.
I am a former English teacher turned homeschool mom of three who writes Christian romance novels on the side. You know, in my huge amount of spare time.