"The Little Mermaid," by Lady Eleanor Smith: As tragic as the original Andersen story. Beautiful and talented young swimmer Mary pines for an American movie star and gives up everything just to be near him.
"Little Red Riding-Hood," by E. Oe Somerville: In a very Irish take on the tale, Moira is pursued by local boy Curley Brech Wolfe, who may or may not be a friend to her grandmother.
"Cinderella," by Robert Speaight: An elderly Cinderella tells a very different version of her story, a cautionary tale of love, to a traveler.
"O, If I Could but Shiver!," by Christina Stead: Nothing seems to be able to scare Lludd, until he meets the beautiful Esther. Love truly does conquer all.
"The Sleeping Beauty," by G. B. Stern: When two high-living sybarites, Roy and Queenie, have a little girl named Beauty, they decide to retire to the country and give up their wicked ways. But country life doesn't quite suit them and Beauty becomes bored with her parents and her life in this flapper-era update full of wild parties and curses that do come true.
"Big Claus and Little Claus," by R. J. Yeatman and W. C. Sellar: In an amusing and increasingly violent tale, Big and Little compete until one can be proclaimed the winner.
Originally published in 1934, the stories reflect the anxieties of life in post-World War I Britain. Many of the tales have a decidedly adult spin, with sex, romance, drugs, and crime making an appearance, but most retain the humor and earthiness of their original inspirations. The Fairies Return is both an entertaining read and a fascinating look at an era's adult take on the timeless tales that children are still being reared on today.