I read this book some years ago, probably around 2010, though it was definitely older than that. It had a fairly short and simple title, of the kind one might expect to find on a fairy tale: "The Lost World" or "The Princess's Journey" or something in that vein. My copy was hardback, the cover mainly white with a stylised drawing running across both back and front, featuring a few people, one rather prominently on the front, and a landscape with mountains.

At first I thought it might have been written by Philippa Gregory, but I checked through her bibliography and couldn't see it there. The author's surname definitely began with an early letter in the alphabet (A to H) - I remember that from where the book was in my bookcase - and it was probably written by a woman. Edit: on further reflection, I think the author may have been called Maria, with a surname starting with G and possibly Gl.

I don't actually remember much of the plot. It was a typical fairy-tale-ish type story: a princess going on a quest? meeting a poor boy in a forest? that kind of thing. The really memorable and distinctive part was that the story was told twice in the same book: once in a relatively short and simple way, prefaced by "this is the story of [title of book] as I first heard it", and then again in a longer way with more details included, prefaced by "this is the story of [title of book] as it was told to me when I wanted to know more". In their essential details, both stories were the same, but there may have been some actual differences between them as well as just extra material in the second retelling.

What was the name of this story? I'm sure I'll know it when I see it, but it's still eluding me.


1 Answer 1


I found it!

The Land Beyond by Maria Gripe.

I was thinking about this book again, and went into a sort of meditative state, seeing the book's cover in my mind's eye and trying to recall the title. It wasn't quite "The Lost World" ... but maybe something similar? Eventually the phrase "The Land Beyond" floated into my mind, and I thought why not give it a try. The name "Maria Gripe" also floated into my mind around the same time, but I thought Gripe sounded like an odd name, and just Googled "The Land Beyond" Maria. Voila!

From Goodreads:

The Land Beyond is the same story, told twice. The first is a simplistic version, written in (or translated into) the nonsensical style of a 19th century fairy tale, complete with symbolism and allegory. An explorer walks into a kingdom and tells the king he’s found a land that does not appear on any map. Other characters try to find it. The second story retells the first, and expands it, which allows all of the unnamed characters to have long, dull conversations about life. There is even more symbolism, allegory and political satire.

There's a slightly longer review here. This is the cover I remembered:

Cover image

  • 1
    Ooh, this looks really interesting. Apr 11, 2017 at 12:47
  • @MissMonicaE FWIW, I don't remember the book as being very interesting. Nice idea, but not a particularly engaging story. I read it once, probably about 10 years ago, and never felt inclined to reread it. You may be disappointed.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 11, 2017 at 13:02
  • Aw, bummer. Oh well, thanks for the warning! Apr 11, 2017 at 13:10

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