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Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister Paperback – October 3, 2000
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But this is Cinderella, after all, and tragedy is inevitable. When a wealthy tulip speculator commissions the painter to capture his blindingly lovely daughter, Clara, on canvas, Margarethe jumps at the chance to better their lot. "Give me room to cast my eel spear, and let follow what may," she crows, and the Fisher family abandons the artist for the upper-crust Van den Meers.
When Van den Meer's wife dies during childbirth, the stage is set for Margarethe to take over the household and for Clara to adopt the role of "Cinderling" in order to survive. What follows is a changeling adventure, and of course a ball, a handsome prince, a lost slipper, and what might even be a fairy godmother. In a single magic night, the exquisite and the ugly swirl around in a heated mix:
Everything about this moment hovers, trembles, all their sweet, unreasonable hopes on view before anything has had the chance to go wrong. A stepsister spins on black and white tiles, in glass slippers and a gold gown, and two stepsisters watch with unrelieved admiration. The light pours in, strengthening in its golden hue as the sun sinks and the evening approaches. Clara is as otherworldly as the Donkeywoman, the Girl-Boy. Extreme beauty is an affliction...But beyond these familiar elements, Maguire's second novel becomes something else altogether--a morality play, a psychological study, a feminist manifesto, or perhaps a plain explanation of what it is to be human. Villains turn out to be heroes, and heroes disappoint. The story's narrator wryly observes, "In the lives of children, pumpkins can turn into coaches, mice and rats into human beings. When we grow up, we learn that it's far more common for human beings to turn into rats." --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad.
He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.
Top Customer Reviews
By setting his revised Cinderella tale in the context of seventeenth-century Dutch merchant-class society, Maguire gives his story foundations of history and art, lending rich flavor to his sparingly elegant prose, and giving additional depth to his unusual cast of characters. The stepsisters (smart but plain Iris and her simpleton sister Ruth) and Clara, the lovely and haunted "Cinderling," are especially well drawn, in all their various idiosyncrasies; and the extraordinary love and conflict between them is the most outstanding of the strong threads carrying the story.
In short, Maguire has expertly boiled this classic fairy tale down to its essence, then rewoven it into something fantastic, strange, and unforgettable.
That said, I would highly recommend this book. Maguire is an intensely gifted writer (I remember realizing that Wicked is not a book to be read lightly, rather, a book that could be taught to a college class.) This book is a surprisingly fast read... once you get into it, it's hard to put it down. Maguire's style in this story is a gritty, no frills true story of the Cinderella. One actually does not miss the lack of mice, and pumpkins, and fairy godmothers as the real story is so enticing. Plus.. the ending packs a wallop that you don't expect. The historical background involving the tulip trade and the changing society of the Netherlands is interesting, but also integral to the tale. After you read this, you'll have an entirely new perspective on the fairy story on which it is based. I gave it only 4 stars because of a personal bias that I could have used a few more explanations, and the ending seemed rushed, but otehrwise, this is a great tale.
Childhood fairy tales, true to their intended audiences, tell stories of black and white, good and evil. Once we all grow up, though, we realize that the world is many shades of gray. McGuire's stories reflect that adult knowledge. That is why this story is so fun to read. I voraciously read fairy tales as a child, and McGuire has allowed me to revisit the stories of my childhood while entrancing me as an adult. His are quick reads, which is somewhat disappointing, because the end always comes too soon.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I will be waiting for my 'prince in shining armor' to write me another grown-up tale!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm not a fan of Maguire's writing style. Most of the book was long and full of unnecessary details. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Alyssa
If you liked "Wicked" by the same author, you'll enjoy this book. Fun twist on the Cinderella story.Published 2 months ago by Deb Kaz
Thoroughly enjoyed this story of Cinderella from one of the sisters' points-of-view. Looking forward to reading more from Gregory Maguire.Published 2 months ago by Diane P.
I kept waiting for the story to pick up enough for me to be interested. Sadly, that never happened and I ended the book with a depressed feeling.Published 3 months ago by Tracie
Well-written, fun and different. More than a rehash of the Cinderella story, this quick read contemplates beauty and truth in an unexpected Dutch setting.Published 3 months ago by Indymama
Have yet to read it this time around - I have the softcover from years agoPublished 3 months ago by Jody Breeden