So one has to wonder about fairy tales getting started, and being taken so seriously, when they're actually *in* a fantasy land with its own actual working rules. I mean, it seems like Sophie has the attitude of someone living in one of the old folk tales, but aside from the magic their world seems to actually work more like real life as far as "poor woodcutters" and "three siblings" and such go. Maybe she's just Wrong Genre Savvy?
It's kind of hard to know what to think of Fannie - then again, I guess she's just a person. not wholly good or bad. She does seem to try to do what's best for the girls, although she could maybe consult them a bit in the matter. At the same time, it seems a bit harsh that she's relieved that Lettie's not there, and she does exploit Sophie...
"Really quite old, well into his twenties"... ouch! From the bit about her being about ready to leave school anyhow, I'm guessing Sophie's between 16-18 or so? Does "into the twenties" really seem all THAT old at that point? I mean I know to say a five-year-old it's ancient, but by the time you're well into your teens, I don't remember the gap being that much...
Gotta love Martha for her practical outlook... "but you can see I've got to start quite soon in order to fit ten children in." Indeed! She does seem to have a bit of a pessimistic outlook though... unless it's just realistic. It's hard to tell at this point.
And while it's a bit slow getting started, then we finally get into the adventure part - although not in a way you'd expect. How many stories have the young heroine getting turned into an old crone, and taking it calmly and rationally? Or at least, one expects she's probably not quite as calm and rational as she acts, since it *is* a big shock, she's still probably numb.
It also seems weird that her point of view would alter so much to see the shepherd as a "young fellow" just because she got physically aged, but maybe it's supposed to be a pointer that she's older mentally than she should be? Who knows? Or I guess it *is* magic, so it could just be part of the spell, changing her attitudes as well as her physical age.
Aaand now we get to the titular castle, just as the reading ends.
Sorry if I'm obsessing over small details and all that, but with the real story just starting, there's not too much else to dwell on for this section. :p
And here's a reminder of the schedule if anyone wants it.