Once upon a Princess
What can you do when the once-passionate bond between a husband and wife falls by the wayside? Everyone knows how the hectic schedules of work and family can wreak havoc on a marriage. This young wife will try anything - aphrodisiacs, jealousy. But, everything seems to backfire - and with a vengeance! What starts off as a harmless experiment ends up in her husbands affair with another woman. So, she decides to give him a taste of his own medicine. Why not break free from day-to-day drudgery? Why not allow herself to be whisked away by a knight in shining armor to a fairy-tale castle, leaving her husband and children behind in the capable hands of two overattentive grandmothers? The heroine embarks on a journey that turns her life upside down. But, in the end, shell find out what it means to get what you wish for...
Author: Stella Simon
Illustration: istockphoto.com/Sergey Kharitonov
ca. 212 Pages
Humorous present-tense first-person narrative of a loving mother of two small children in her mid-thirties who stumbles into a romantic adventure, but decides in the end to fight to keep her marriage and family together.
The present. Mother's Day and the weeks that follow.
A German city to be chosen Tuscany / Italy
9 female and 7 male roles
Main female character
Anna Miller, the first-person narrator; mid-thirties, married to Max; housewife and mother of Benjamin and Julia; dedicated to her family; works part-time for the diet magazine 'Half Portions'; suffers a slipped disc on Mother's Day; goes for physiotherapy exercise classes where by chance she meets her old flame and former colleague Martin, who has still not lost his fascination for her; because the love relationship with Max has been put on the back burner since his promotion to the position of chief designer, she agrees to go on a date with Martin; when Max ends up cheating on her when he goes on a business trip, she turns to Martin and escapes reality with him for a few days in a romantic hotel in Tuscany; Anna experiences the escape with Martin as a journey into the land of fairytales – she is the princess, he the gallant knight; the longing for her children, however, compels her to return home and she finally acknowledges that she still loves Max and wants to stay with him; subtle love scenes with Max, and love scenes with Martin.
Husband of the main female character
Max Miller, Anna's husband and father of Benjamin and Julia; works as chief designer in a development team for an automobile manufacturer; likes to listen to Mozart and is a romantic at heart; stress at work causes him to forget his family sometimes; while on a business trip, he can't resist the feminine charms of a colleague and cheats on his wife; when Anna confronts him he lies at first, but then admits to wrongdoing, saying that it means nothing to him; when Anna disappears, he fears for his marriage, and, taking the children with him, goes looking for her; in the end, he gives the relationship with Anna another chance; Max's night of infidelity is discussed, but not described.
Former male colleague (and love interest) of the main female character
Martin Zimmerman, attractive banker, recently divorced; also plagued by backache; Anna's former colleague; after they had developed an affection for each other years ago, he simply left Anna hanging because he was afraid of a permanent relationship at that time; their chance meeting awakens his old feelings for her, and he would like to win Anna back; he persuades her to go with him on a short trip to Tuscany, and proposes marriage in Florence; in the end he has to acknowledge that he has already missed his chance of a future with Anna.
Son of the main female character
Benjamin, Anna and Max's son; of kindergarten age; a little rascal who has a sensitive side.
Daughter of the main female character
Julia, Anna and Max's two year old daughter; a sweet little girl, whose digestive system keeps her mother very busy.
Mother-in-law of the main female character
Mathilda, Anna's mother-in-law, small (approx. five feet tall) with sleek, neck-length, grey hair with a soft purple rinse; member of a cooking group by the name of Seniors' Costly Cooking; her husband, Max's father, died as a result of a war injury.
Mother of the main female character
Sylvia, Anna's mother; widow, slim, with short, ash-blond hair; wears Chanel No.5; attends a literature circle as a hobby; gives Anna support by being a loving grandmother.
Best female friend of the main female character
Kathy, Anna's best friend, pharmacist, married to Jacob; Lisa and Mark's mother; cheerful, well-balanced and down-to-earth; gives Anna advice on life in general; not very keen on the idea of going to America for three years with husband, Jacob.
Husband of the heroine's best friend
Jacob, Kathy's husband; receives an offer to work in Silicon Valley for three years, which he would love to accept.
Son of the heroine's best friend
Mark, Kathy and Jacob's two year old son.
Daughter of the heroine's best friend
Lisa, Kathy and Jacob's daughter of kindergarten age.
The best friend of the heroine's son
Christian, Benjamin's best friend.
Mother of the best friend
Mrs Klein, Christian's mother; plays tennis and drives a BMW; makes a brief appearance only.
Female neighbour of the main female role
Mrs Frank, Anna and Max's neighbour; grey eyes, ginger hair, always getting on Anna's nerves with her well-meaning pieces of advice; helpful on occasion, but touchy on matters concerning her garden.
Dr. Hartman, orthopaedic specialist; broad as a beam, but a pleasant doctor, always in a good mood.
Hairdresser of the main female character
Paula, Anna's hairdresser.
ExtractWhen I hear a satisfied chuckling coming from the sitting room, it is half-past nine according to the clock. In a flash, I have an idea. Immediately, I let the spoon go and a few steps away from the sitting room door I wrench it open and what do I see but my loved ones sitting there in trusting harmony next to each other on the grey leather sofa? In their pyjamas, bound together in the act of watching TV, they have forgotten the world around them. Surging up inside me is a mixture of emotion - envy, and anger. I’m jealous that they are sitting, amusing themselves with Bob the Builder. I would also rather be snuggling up with the children, lazing around. Finally, anger gets the upper hand. What on earth is Max thinking? He is supposed to be dressing the children and helping me.
"I thought you would be in the bathroom, getting the kids ready." My voice is razor-sharp, and I sense that it’s only with difficulty that I can contain my anger. Of course, the children don’t react at all. Max tries a counter attack.
"Don’t panic. What do you want? The children are almost ready. I’ve got things under control." He too scarcely takes his eyes away from the screen.
"Please all go and get dressed," I insist. Anger makes my heart beat faster, and rises to my throat. All of a sudden, the pain in my back gets more intense.
I slam the door shut and decide to numb the pain with a small chemical cudgel, so that I can somehow cope with the day. While the drops drizzle onto the teaspoon, I wonder what is really getting on my nerves, sciatic or otherwise. There are so many small things. Nothing really big robs me of my sleep at night – we are, thank God, healthy – apart from the normal rounds of kindergarten maladies, we have a nice little row house with a conservatory in a cosy little suburb on the eastern outskirts of Munich. Despite mortgage rates, we can still afford two cars, child friendly holidays, and a canary. Not to mention the luxury of my not having to work (which Max likes to go on about), but instead being able to devote myself completely to housework and the children. Basically, not having to do anything demanding, and certainly nothing stressful.
But it is stressful and demanding! I think to myself, as I bang the painkiller bottle on the worktop.
For the last month, I have been working two days a week for the diet magazine, Half Portions. Chance led me into the editorial office in which I act work enthusiastically as a kind of secretary and have to compose simple articles. The senior secretary is the sister of the head of the kindergarten, and Cecilia, the aforementioned head of the kindergarten, had pinned a note on the notice board saying, ‘Editing help on an hourly basis sought at Half Portions’. I called right away and got the job.
The drops taste as horrible as hinted at in the detailed advice given on the package insert. They make me shudder. A few minutes later, I finish taking the good crockery off the shelf, and can already feel the numbing effect of the medicine. From the shrill blubbering coming from beyond the kitchen door, I assume that Max is herding the children in the direction of the bathroom.
The clock reads a quarter past ten and I have invited the grannies for eleven o' clock. I decide to lay the table in the conservatory and open the doors onto the terrace.
The doorbell rings, and outside stands a black feather hat: Mathilda, my mother-in-law.
"Good Morning, Anna!" she purrs as she swishes past me into the hall. A great wave of lily of the valley envelopes her small frame. She holds out a box of chocolates. "For you, and thank you for the invitation. I am a little early, as you can see. I thought to myself that perhaps I could lend a hand. After all, you have so much to do with the children. Where are they exactly? And how are you? You look so pale."
She stops briefly to take a breath, and I try to use this opportunity to answer her, "Thank you, that really wasn’t necessary. I’ve almost finished the preparations. The children are upstairs. Max too. May I take your coat?"
Mathilda hands me her black poplin coat, smoothes down her sea-blue lamb’s wool skirt, and tugs at the top of the sleeves of her cream-coloured silk blouse, and, as she does so, the balls on her string of pearls dance on her ample bosom. Although she is only five feet tall, she possesses the aura of energy and love of life of one much taller. Her sleek, neck-length hair is completely grey and receives a soft purple rinse at strict six-weekly intervals.
Just as Mathilda opens her mouth to say something, an ear-numbing, blood-curdling scream comes from the first floor. It even drowns out Mathilda's voice. "MUMMEE!"
"My God, what’s happening?" Shocked, I drop Mathilda's coat on the floor and sprint up the stairs, two at a time. These are great painkillers. Mathilda hurries after me.
In Benjamin´s room, my loved ones stand in front of Rudi’s cage. Rudi is our canary. Considering the horror struck expressions on their faces, I fear the worst. Benjamin is screaming without breathing in. He has been training determinedly in this very discipline since before he was weaned. Max looks concerned. The first to enlighten me is Julia,"Mummy! Rudi... Rudi broken."
Rudi, our canary, has left us! Stretched out, the bird is lying there motionless on the floor of the cage, his eyes wide open.
Still bawling, Benjamin nestles into me. "Mummy, when I took off the cage cover, he was just lying there. Mummy, it wasn’t me, I didn’t do anything to him. I never put sherbet powder in his food again. Waaaa!"
The little guy nestles into me some more, out of despair, and I think of brave Rudi, who some three months ago had licked a batch of sherbet that bubbles and fizzes when it comes in contact with water. It’s not exactly ideal for any bird, when a strawberry explosion happens in the beak area. Rudi was fluttering around his cage in such a distressed manner, that Benjamin came running to me excitedly and swore that it was with the best of intentions that he had wanted to share his sherbet powder with Rudi. Emotionally, Rudi never quite recovered from Benjamin's special attention. Quite obviously, Benjamin still feels guilty.
"It’s okay, my little sparrow. No one is saying it’s your fault. Canaries are very delicate. Maybe he just went to sleep and is now in bird heaven." I draw Benjamin towards me to comfort him and noticing the stiff pose Rudi strikes, realise my doubts about a peaceful death have been confirmed. Of course, I do not voice these.
"Come to Granny. You’re so worked up, poor thing." Benjamin, who has just begun to calm down, starts bawling all over again, leaves my arms and sinks himself into Mathilda's large soft bosom.
"Rudi not in heaven!" exclaims Julia and puts her miniature hands on her hips. "Rudi there." She points to the cage with a wise, knowing expression on her cute face. Max gives me a look and we try to remain serious.
"Rudi’s soul is in heaven now," Max explains gently, but Julia does not understand him and bursts out crying, confused. Benjamin also laments Rudi loudly once more. I want to take Juliaa in my arms, but she holds out her hands for granny, who has room enough in her expansive bosom for her little angel, too.
"You know what, kids? We’ll bury Rudi in the garden at the back and plant some flowers on his grave. Then you can water it every day." Max seizes the cage and hurries out of the room.
A few minutes later, the doorbell rings again.
"Hello, my darling," Mama kisses me. "Was that really Max in the garden? In his pyjamas?"
"Hello Mama! Yes, could be. Rudi is dead."
"Rudi? Oh, the poor children."
"Mathilda is comforting them nicely."
"Oh." A glimpse of disappointment flits across her face. Mathilda is quicker off the mark once again.
"That’s a pretty sweater. Is it new?" I distract her. The turquoise looks really good on her. Despite wearing make-up, she looks a little pale. Her ash-blonde hair sits layered in a neat egg-shaped, sporty-short hairstyle and lends visual support to her trim figure.
"Thank you, I found it recently at Chic & Chic," she says and rummages around in her black shoulder bag. "Look, I’ve brought you something. Something lightweight by Clare DeBoevilla."
Excited like a child, I grab the book. "Oh, super! Thank you, Mama. You really didn’t have to!"
"Hello Sylvia." Max is standing behind us, still in his pyjamas. "I’m sorry I can’t offer you my hand, because I’ve just disposed of Rudi."
"Morning, Max. Yes, that’s all right. Anna just told me."
"I’m going to shower, then," says Max.
"That is a good idea," I say in a low voice, almost growling. "Take your time."
Only half way up the stairs, Max turns round and gives me a withering look. Renewed screaming from one of the children’s bedrooms distracts us. As if operated by remote control, we hurry one after the other to the first floor - Max in front, then me, then Sylvia behind us.
Frequency of appearance
We have summarised all personalisation options for this book here. We also listed the Frequency of appearance for the respective details. You do not need to fill in all options – you can also use the defaults.
|Main female character|
|The heroine’s first name is||96 x|
|The heroine’s surname is||24 x|
|The colour of the heroine’s hair is||3 x|
|The colour of the heroine’s eyes is||1 x|
|Term of endearment used for the heroine is||10 x|
|The heroine prefers to read books by (male or female name of author)||1 x|
|The heroine's favourite perfume is||2 x|
|Husband of the main female character|
|The first name of the heroine's husband is||324 x|
|The surname of the heroine's husband is||4 x|
|The colour of the heroine's husband’s hair is||2 x|
|The colour of the heroine's husband’s eyes is||3 x|
|Former male colleague (and love interest) of the main female character|
|The first name of the heroine's love interest is||314 x|
|The surname of the heroine's love interest is||2 x|
|Son of the main female character|
|The first name of the heroine's son is||217 x|
|The colour of the heroine's son’s hair is||2 x|
|The colour of the heroine's son’s eyes is||1 x|
|Daughter of the main female character|
|The first name of the heroine's daughter is||234 x|
|The colour of the heroine's daughter’s hair is||2 x|
|The colour of the heroine's daughter’s eyes is||1 x|
|Mother-in-law of the main female character|
|The first name of the heroine's mother-in-law is||65 x|
|Mother of the main female character|
|The first name of the heroine's mother is||19 x|
|Best female friend of the main female character|
|The first name of the heroine's best friend (female) is||114 x|
|The colour of the heroine's best friend’s hair is||1 x|
|The colour of the heroine's best friend’s eyes is||3 x|
|Husband of the heroine's best friend|
|The first name of the best friend's husband||13 x|
|Son of the heroine's best friend|
|The first name of the best friend's son||15 x|
|Daughter of the heroine's best friend|
|The first name of the best friend's daughter||12 x|
|The best friend of the heroine's son|
|The heroine's son has got a kindergarten friend by the first name of (male)||18 x|
|Mother of the best friend|
|The surname of the mother of the kindergarten friend is||2 x|
|Female neighbour of the main female role|
|The surname of the neighbour is||29 x|
|The surname of the heroine's orthopaedic specialist (male) is||26 x|
|Hairdresser of the main female character|
|The first name of the heroine's hairdresser (female) is||4 x|
|Setting of the story|
|The story takes place in the city of||4 x|
|The café is called||2 x|
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