Friday, February 24, 2017

Before You Meet Prince Charming: The Beginning

We have a new first!  This book inspired me to write the first blog post on the cover, the cover quotes and the author's note.

The Cover
The cover is a bit terrifying, honestly.  There is a back-lit guy on a horse holding a lance...or a mace...perhaps a broadsword.  My husband wanted to know if Prince Charming was a euphemism for the Angel of Death in Christian Patriarchy after seeing the cover.  Judge for yourself:

Has he come to marry you or steal your soul? (added snark from Mel :-P )
Cover Quotes:
Ok, I hate cover quotes with a passion.  Give me a quick overview of what I'll be reading and an author bio if you must, but don't patronize me by having famous names tell me how much I'll love this book.  Good God, I can read and decide myself.

Having said that, these cover quotes are unique in a rather dark way.

Located immediately above the blurb about the author, this one caught my eye immediately:

"Every young lady desiring to be married one day must read this book! It will challenge you; it will stir you; it will delight you! Most importantly, it will help you practically prepare for one of the most important decisions of your life. In Before You Meet Prince Charming, Sarah Mally tackles the most critical subject for single women and offers insightful counsel with a wonderful sense of humor. I believe this will be great encouragement to princesses everywhere!"  - Beall Phillips, wife of Doug Phillips, President of Vision Forum

  • Awkward. 
    • Getting a cover quote from her in 2006 for the initial printing must have been awesome for Sarah Mally.  At that point, Beall and her husband were the leaders of a large group of Christian Patriarchy families known as Vision Forum.  (For people playing "Who's Who?" at home, the Botkin Sisters published their first book "So Much More" through Vision Forum.)  This is a marketing bonanza for Ms. Mally.
      • Not only does this quote show up on the back cover, a slightly longer version is on a leading page.
    • In 2013, Beall Phillips husband, Doug, was accused of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with his kids' nanny. The nanny sued Doug and eventually canceled her suit in return for an undisclosed settlement.  Doug and Beall's flagship ministry known as Vision Forum imploded.  This is a marketing nightmare for Ms. Mally.  
Emblazoned across the front cover of my copy of the book - although missing from the image on Amazon - is the first sentence of the following blurb.  The remainder of the blurb is on the back cover.

"A must-read for every girl! Each of us sisters have been greatly encouraged through Sarah's challenging and easy-to-understand book." Jana, Jill, Jessa, Jinger and Joy Duggar, TLC's 19 Kids and Counting.
  • And the awkwardness continues.  
    • In 2015, a police report came to light that detailed molestation of four of the Duggar girls by their oldest brother Josh.
    • I haven't read too far into the book yet, but this is NOT a book for anyone who has dealt with sexual abuse.
  • On a lighter note: a 21 word blurb from five people.  That's a new record for fewest words per person on my blurb count.
Author's Notes:
This will probably shock you, but I usually don't bother with author's notes either.  I'll tell you why I read this one in a second.

Here's the first one:

Note from the author:
Over the past eight or nine years, my dad and I have been speaking together on the topic of purity. I often receive questions for mothers about what books I would suggest for their daughters on the subject. Even though there are many good books on romance and purity, I had difficulty finding one to recommend to younger girls who are pure and protected. Many of the books I have read seem to be written specifically to reach young people who had already made mistakes. Since they are written for this audience they include some details that I do not think are necessary for younger girls to be thinking about. Even though my desire is that this book would minister to girls of all ages and backgrounds, I have endeavored to keep it discreet and appropriate for younger girls as well. (pg. 13)
  • Man, how do I keep missing the indiscreet and inappropriate ones?  
    • I'm sure I wouldn't give "Preparing to Be a Help-Meet" by Debi Pearl to a kid - but more because it was so poorly written.  
    • There was nothing in "It's (Not) That Complicated" by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin that was particularly lascivious or even sexual.
  • My feeling on multi-age-group books: Unless you are one hell of an author, the book is going to be weak for everyone rather than useful for anyone...
This next one caught my eye as I was flipping to the first chapter.
Note to the lover of Old English:  it is not my intent to duplicate proper Old English. Please bear my inconsistency and incomplete usage, as it is my desire to give only an Old English flavor. (pg. 13)
  • I pause for a second and wonder what the likelihood that she actually tried to duplicate Old English and got this book published.  It's not likely, but I can't rule it out at first blush.  
    • See, Old English (e.g., Beowulf) is not comprehensible to Modern English speakers.  
    • Heck, the more recent Middle English (e.g., Canterbury Tales) has an occasional word or phrase that a Modern English speaker can figure out - but it still requires extensive study.  
  • I would have bought this book - in a heartbeat - if it were really in Old English.  Learning Old English is an accomplishment.  Creating a new work in a dead language is the type of nerd-crazy-act-of-love that I adore.  And I'm horrible at languages so hearing someone read in Old English or Middle English is like watching a magic show for me!
    • Here!  Listen to a professor at MIT read in Old English and Middle English.  Or watch this cool video about how far back you could go and still understand English!  *happy nerd squeak*
  • A quick glance at the first chapter confirmed my suspicions - Ms. Mally tried to duplicate Early MODERN English (e.g., the King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare) not Old English. 
    •  *Grump* 
    • This is not ok.  I got all excited for 30 seconds and now I'm very cranky.
Why did she duplicate Old English Early Modern English?
  • Well, each chapter begins with an allegorical parable about a princess who is waiting for to meet her future husband someday.  The allegory is written in italics to separate it from the reflection portion and, yes, everyone makes an attempt to use Old English Early Modern English.  
  • Alas, you will not be getting the entire allegory.  I can't bring myself to read all of it - or even most of it - into my transcription software.  It's simply too daft.  
  • I will give you an overview of the actions and themes from the section of the allegory for each chapter.  But, since I don't want you to miss out on all the  Old English Early Modern English fun, here's a representative quote from the first chapter.
"Suddenly hearing the sound of galloping, she forgot her questions and looked up to see a horsemen coming quickly to meet her.
 "How does it fare with thee, my lady? " he asked, coming to a halt.
"All is well, sentinel,"  she replied. " What be thy hurry?"
"Thy father sent me to look for thee. The western sky gives warning of a brewing storm. He was concerned that thou hadst been delayed at Sand Crossing."
"Thou dost know how it is visiting Aunt Prudence and Uncle Justheart, the Duke and Duchess of Wisdomton,"  she chuckled.  "It is always difficult to get away.  And yes, the ride home took  longer than expected. The rough parts of the mountain trail are somewhat overgrown.  Also, I stopped to help an elderly lady who had dropped her basketful (sic) of vegetables in the midst of the path."
 "I will report to the king and leave the to enjoy the quiet ride. The father will be glad to know that thou has very nearly arrived at the castle."
 "Thank you, sentinel,"  she answered. " Please tell the stable hand to have hay ready for Victory."
" As thou sayest,"  he declared as he turned around and galloped away." (pg. 18)
  • Continuing the CP theme of "really obvious virtue/vice names", Aunt Prudence is forgivable. Uncle Justheart and Wisdomton are not.  
    • Uncle Justheart is especially bad since the name "Justin" would say the same thing.  
      • Two minutes on a baby name website gave me options like Alexander, Clement, and Sasha for "kind" or "strong protector" or "Chane" for "oak-hearted"
    • For a Michigander like me, Wisdomton is nearly impossible to say..
  •  Why would the ride home take longer than the ride out?  Why didn't she clear the overgrown sections on her way to Wisdomton?  Did she take a totally different route on the way home?
  • Note the gratuitous humble-brag on stopping to put some veggies in a basket for an old woman.  It would have been kinder to carry the veggies to the woman's house - and far more mature not to brag about doing something any human being would do.
  • Victory, if you hadn't guessed, is her horse.  A minor unconscious theme in the allegory is that Sarah Mally (aka "The Princess") really, really wanted a horse as a kid.  
    • I don't think she was ever allowed to ride a horse, though.   Just before that passage, the Princess sped the horse up by "gently pressing" her legs against the horse.  I'm not great on a horse - and my best friend would be the first to confirm that - but that's what I do while trying to slow a horse down.  To speed a horse up, I thump their side with my foot or heel.  
  • Nice micro-management of the stable hand as well.  "Make sure he feeds the horse.  Also, remind him to remove the tack from Victory, ok?  Plus, horses need water.  Oh, don't forget to have him open the stable door.  I don't want to run into the door again. Once he puts Victory in his stall, be sure to close the door again.  You know, like shut.  I like it when Victory wears the plushy horse blanket so he'll be toasty warm at night.  Alright-Thanks!"
  • I would have forgiven all of this if the sentinel had replied "As you wish" before riding off as the beginning of a running inside joke for anyone who like "The Princess Bride".  
Yes, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover - especially if it has a quote from Beall Philips on it. 


  1. That allegory made me cringe about one paragraph in. Yikes.

  2. Hooooooo boy. This is going to be hair-raising. I just know it. Thank you for reading these books so that we don't have to.

  3. I'd forgotten just how lame this book is--I saw it years ago. I am trying to parse "challenging and easy-to-understand book"

    Lisa @