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Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story Paperback – March 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 Original edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307407993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307407993
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This retelling of Cinderella follows the oft ignored character of the fairy godmother, who may or may not be a mentally ill New Yorker. Lil, as this godmother is known, is now living in New York City, broke and employed at a bookstore, years after being exiled from the kingdom of fairies for betraying her charge. Condemned to live as an old woman, her wings bound to her back as penance, Lil is overcome by longing for what she has lost, slipping in her recollections of her idyllic past into the harsh present. When she meets Veronica, a young woman perpetually dogged with man problems, Lil sees an opportunity to redeem herself. But as the narrative progresses, cracks in Lil's story (and psyche) emerge. Needless to say, readers expecting magical carriages and glass slippers will be surprised by the novel's morose tone, and though the surprise conclusion doesn't quite work, Turgeon's takes on nostalgia and regret are surprisingly clear-eyed given her narrator's unbalance. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

In a decidedly different take on Cinderella, Turgeon limns the travails of Lil, the fairy godmother chosen to ensure that, because she is fated to marry the prince, Cinderella gets to the ball. Lil, however, lets herself feel human emotions, falls in love with the prince, and goes to the ball in Cinderella’s place. The fairy elders banish her to the human world, where she lives, wings furled and bound behind her back, as an old woman working in a tiny Manhattan rare-book store. This take on the tale unfolds in alternating first-person accounts, one of Lil in the past, the other of Lil in the present, yearning to rejoin her sister and friends in the fairy world and finding a way to redeem herself when she meets Veronica, a vibrant young woman, and realizes that by finding a soul mate for Veronica, she could make up for that night so long ago. Lil is complex and appealing, and vivid imagery and lyrical writing give shape to a charmer with a very satisfying, enigmatic ending. --Sally Estes

More About the Author

Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels: Rain Village; Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story; Mermaid, which is currently being developed for film by Sony Pictures; The Next Full Moon, her first children's book; and The Fairest of Them All. She's also the editor of Mermaids, a special issue of Faerie Magazine coming out in December 2013. Visit her online at carolynturgeon.com and read her mermaid blog at iamamermaid.com/.

Customer Reviews

The twists and turns kept me reading along until the end.
David Stapleton
Her story glitters with fairy tale magic and the power of exquisite language.
B. Lynn Goodwin
I felt that there was too much text for too little story.
Snow White

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Arena TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
The cover of this book and suggestion of a Cinderella story will lure you in to a false expectation of a romantic fantasy with Disneyesque qualities. No spoilers here, but if that is what you are looking for, you'd do well to look elsewhere. Perhaps it's my own fault for not researching further into what I was reading, but I was immediately taken by the quality of this author's writing style. I kept turning every page, and my own false hopes for a happy ending were dashed.

However, for what it is, Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story is a novel well-worth your time and interest. Brava, Carolyn Turgeon!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Baumann VINE VOICE on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Plot Summary: The fairy Lil failed in her duty to get Cinderella to the ball, so the elders banished her to earth in the body of an old woman. The only trace of Lil's former glory is a pair of snow-white wings that she straps down with an Ace bandage. She lives in a tiny, broken down apartment in NYC, and works at a used bookstore owned by an absent-minded wealthy guy. When a vibrant young hair stylist comes in to sell some books, Lil sees a cosmic opportunity to make things right, and play matchmaker between Veronica and her boss, George. Lil is convinced that if this couple finds love at the charity ball, then she'll be allowed to return to her fairy home.

The story flowed beautifully for the first half of the book, but the second half twisted in upon itself several times, and I'm no longer sure what it was about. I thought this would be a straightforward fantasy sweetened with romance, but now I wonder if the entire story was nothing more than dementia punching holes in the soft brain of an old, tormented woman.

This is one of those books that leaves the interpretation up to the reader, and for some reason I'm leaning toward the darker path. Somehow this fantasy persuaded me to turn my back on the magic, which is the last thing I want to do. Was Lil a fallen fairy, or a mortal woman trapped by mental illness? Since this story is told in a first person narrative, I have no one's word but Lil's. It's like listening to my three-year-old insist that she didn't color on the bathroom door, but the evidence and logic are overwhelming (I still need to clean that door, *sigh*).

Lil's fall from grace happened on the night when Cinderella was supposed to meet her Prince at the ball, some 300 years in the past.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Heidi Anne Heiner VINE VOICE on July 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Unlike many of the reinvented fairy tale novels published recently, Turgeon's Godmother isn't aimed at young adult readers, but adult readers, with its edgier and more enigmatic handling of the content. It reminded me more of Gregory Maguire's work in the genre than any other author's although Donna Jo Napoli and several short story authors have lots of sharp corners in their stories, too. I found myself thinking about Napoli's masterpiece "The Magic Circle" every so often while reading this novel since both offer similar themes of older women seeking redemption from past mistakes.

Godmother is the story of Cinderella's godmother, banished to the mortal world after her bad handling of Cinderella and the prince. This godmother, Lil, barely resembles the usual fairy godmother imagery. She is not a benevolent, rather flighty, bringer of good fortune. Well, at times, yes, she is, but not in the expected ways. Lil is bereft from her losses and lonely although blessed with friends and people who care about her in the mortal world. Now that she is banished, stuck living in New York City and working in a small rare bookstore, she desperately wants to return home. She is desperately trying to re-earn her wings to borrow the cliché of angels. She finds a new woman, Vivian, she hopes to help and thus redeem herself. The story unfolds, mixed with flashbacks to 300 years earlier when she first tried to help Cinderella win her prince.

There are a few surprises and twists and an ending that will most likely either satisfy or frustrate the reader. This book explores the psychological side of the character while still telling an interesting story.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Carolyn Turgeon's "Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story" is a magical and very original novel that turns the conventional tale of the much abused Cinderella, her wicked stepmother, evil stepsisters, prince charming, etc., upside-down. The heroine here is the girl's Fairy Godmother, Lil.

In another time and place, Lil was a beautiful fairy - "a perfect creature." She, her sister Maybeth, and their friends Gladys and Lucibell flitted and floated through their days, filled with eternal sunshine, to the lake, to sleep and play among the water lilies. And in the evenings, they would fly, their wings whirring beneath the moon, with starlight reflecting their tiny images on the water. Lil, in her human form, had auburn hair, the color of fall leaves, lovely milk-white skin and emerald-color eyes. There was one major difference, however, that distinguished Lil's anatomy from the others of her kind. Her wings were not like the delicate wings of hummingbirds or butterflies. To mark her special "sensitivity," she was given wings made of feathers, beautiful silken white feathers. She was made "different" because she had been chosen by the elders for a special mission. A mission that was her future and her fate.

Lil was to cross over to the kingdom of humans to make Cinderella a queen. This is the very same Cinderella of folklore that we are all familiar with...with a few minor but important changes. Our Cinderella is a human being who experiences a real person's feelings, longings, and pain - not a cartoon character. She is very lovely, and possesses extraordinary glamour, which she is not aware of. Cinderella also does not know that she is half-fairy. And, Godmother Lil certainly does not sing, "Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo." Her magic is much more subtle.
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