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Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister Paperback – October 3, 2000
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?[A] bewitching story..."Confessions has its roots in a fanciful tale--the Cinderella story--but it teases out motifs deeper than the generic fall-in-love-and-marry-the-prince-happily-ever-after....Witty and wise?Adult and sophisticated, his musings on beauty, ugliness, magic, reality, and imagination explore how our past follows us always and shapes our self-perception.? --"Chicago Tribune?A ravishing meditation on the truism that 'beauty helps preserve the spirit of mankind.' Maguire is rapidly becoming one of contemporary fiction's most assured myth-makers.? --"Kirkus Reviews" (starred)?A tale so movingly told that you will say at the end of the first reading, 'It's been a long time since I've read a book this good.' For philosophical depth and lively evocative language, few writers match Gregory Maguire.? --"Nashville Tennessean?A beguiling reconstruction of the Cinderella story...Maguire's sophisticated story-telling reimagines age-old themes and folklore-familiar characters...a vision that fantasy lovers will find hard to resist.? --"Publishers Weekly"?Captivating and beautifully written..."Confessions is a rich canvas of colorful characters and fantastic events rendered by an artist attentive to every surface and texture.? --"Book Magazine?Lively and delicious...its language is an extraordinary blend of moving narrative and music....[Maguire's] books may be placed beside the works of Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Crowley and the late Mervyn Peake. This dark folktale, a reworking of the Cinderella fable, is as exotic a vision...as mysterious as life itself.? --"Memphis Commercial Appeal?[An] engrossing story...endearing and memorable.? --"Boston Herald?Highly absorbing...Maguire'sprecise, slightly archaic language...sweeps readers through this mysterious and fascinating story.? --"Booklist?[An] arresting hybrid of mystery, fairy tale, and historical novel..."Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister isn't easy to classify or forget....The characters in these ?Confessions' might not end up happily ever after, but you won't want to miss them.? --"Detroit Free Press?There was a time, long ago, when Cinderella was simply a children's tale in which good triumphed over bad, pretty over ugly, pumpkins and mice over carriages and footmen....Now, the story has much more depth. Gregory Maguire has applied his devilish writing style and vivid imagination to the story of the glass slipper, and, in doing so, turned this simple tale into a Gothic saga of 17th-century Holland.? --"Fort Worth Morning Star-Telegram
From the Back Cover
Is this new land a place where magics really happen?
From Gregory Maguire, the acclaimed author of Wicked, comes his much-anticipated second novel, a brilliant and provocative retelling of the timeless Cinderella tale.
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....
We all have heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty . . . and what curses accompanied Cinderella's exquisite looks?
Extreme beauty is an affliction
Set against the rich backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris's path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister.
Clara was the prettiest child, but was her life the prettiest tale?
While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, burning all memories of her past, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household--and the treacherous truth of her former life.
God and Satan snarling at each other like dogs.... Imps and fairy godmotbers trying to undo each other's work. How we try to pin the world between opposite extremes!
Far more than a mere fairy-tale, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a novel of beauty and betrayal, illusion and understanding, reminding us that deception can be unearthed--and love unveiled--in the most unexpected of places.
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The story is similar to the original Cinderella story; however, the characters personas (for the most part) are all together different. One of the stepsisters is the "hero" in the story, while Cinderella is a spoiled, selfish brat. When she is reduced the ashes, I almost felt like cheering, she was such an annoying character.
The stepmother is pure evil. She is probably the best written character in this book as she is such a horrible person. I found myself wanting to know more and more about her... why was she such a horrid character. She gets her due in the end.
The story does improve near the end; however then the last few pages (or the epilogue) are so abrupt, I found myself asking.. "so that's it???"
It is an interesting read... just be ready to take some time to get through it.
In Confessions, the characters are well fleshed out, the scenery set so divinely, and the pacing precise. Maguire's impeccable use of language draws you fully into the story, hanging on every word.
I was quite startled by the ending, and felt it a little abrupt, but how could I be disappointed after such a magical book! Having a daughter with a disability, I found myself cheering for Ruth. I wish we could find out even more about her. I liked the art slant to the story. Iris held my heart, and Clara , my pity.
I wish the story could have gone on and on, as Wicked has. These are great characters that feel alive.
This is a very interesting novel. Although it does follow the basic Cinderella outline, it is so much more than a fairytale. Iris is by far the most interesting character in the book, and her constant observations about women's roles and beauty are the best parts of the book. "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" forces readers to reconsider the traditional roles of heroes and villains, good vs. evil, beauty and art, and the power of the family dynamic. If you're in the mood for a very untraditional novel, this is the one for you.