This review is Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. One of my favorite ways to rest is by curling up with a good book. Like movies and music, all genres appeal to me, and I give all books a chance to be ‘heard’!
'Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister' is a unique retelling of #Cinderella from the perspective of one of the stepsisters. It was intriguing and gave a spin on a classic fairytale story. #bookreviews #brandsbookcorner #beingfibromom Click To Tweet
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Maguire retells the real story of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, from the viewpoint of one of her stepsisters in his novel, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. While this is my first novel to read by Gregory Maguire and the story grabbed my interest initially, the story wasn’t enough to inquire after his over books.
The story begins with Marguerite and her two daughters, Ruth who is older and Iris who is around seven or so, fleeing to Holland from England after her husband, Jack, was forcibly removed from his home. Holland is where Marguerite’s grandfather lives and they are hoping to seek shelter with him. Upon learning his death and nowhere to go, they are reduced to begging in the streets for food and lodging.
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Reluctantly, a local painter takes in the small family in exchange for keeping his house in order. Despite her begrudging attitude and quick tongue, Marguerite excels in her tasks gaining approval of the Master (what the painter is asked to be called by others). Meanwhile, her daughters seek comfort in exploring their new town and helping to collect flowers from the nearby meadow for the Master’s paintings.
Ruth, the eldest daughter, is physically deformed and a mute. She is kind and looks up to Iris, her younger sister, for caring and protection. Iris is strong-willed, independent, and insightful. She also believes in magic and changelings (babies believed to be switched by fairies during infancy and possessing magical abilities).
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The Master is soon asked to render a drawing of Clara, a daughter of a local businessman, Heer van de Meer. Van de Meer wishes his daughter to be painted with a bouquet of tulips in order to entice other businessmen to invest in tulip bulbs. With the success of his painting, ‘Young Woman with Tulips’, the Master starts rising to popularity and gains notoriety amongst society.
But the success of the painting also means Marguerite and her daughters are now to serve van de Meer’s household. They are to help his wife, Henrika, manage the house chores and Iris is to teach Clara English and French. Though it’s a rise in their living situation, Iris is hesitant to teach Clara because it is thought that Clara is a changeling. This frightens Iris and her sister.
However, the three girls are close in age with Clara being the youngest, and, slowly, Clara becomes close to the sisters and the sisters come to care for her, too. Marguerite doesn’t particularly care for Clara but she’s also not mean to her. She’s completely indifferent to her, really. What’s peculiar about Clara, other than the common belief she is a changeling, is her irrational fear of being anywhere outside of the home and gardens. Instead, she stays at home and hasn’t ventured away from home in years.
Soon after their arrival, Henrika becomes bedridden due to her complicated pregnancy, to which mother and child die during labor. The household arrangement quickly shifts and Marguerite marries van de Meer making her the lady of the house. This new station in life is exactly what Marguerite wants but her daughters do not agree with it.
The rest of the story is yours to discover. I can’t reveal more as it will spoil the story and it’s ending. It was an interesting read and quite intriguing but the story overall was only so-so. The reviews of this novel were conflicting with readers either really loving it or not liking it at all. I’m in-between the two. The story was uniquely told, had strong characters for each of their roles in the story, and ended with closure. However, it wasn’t a ‘this is a great read’ type of book, so I’m not eager to get to his other novels.
Gregory Maguire on the retelling of his novel
Book of the Month Club
I enjoyed books so much that I joined the Book of the Month Club to continue receiving the latest and greatest books via mail. Some of the books are exclusive to BOTM club members a month prior to their official publishing date! Each month I’m excited about the monthly selections, and it’s tough to select just one. (And when I can’t decide on one, I can add additional books for a small add-on charge and – as always – shipping is included in the monthly membership fee.) Can’t find one you want? That’s okay, too! Skip a month, pocket the credit to spend next month, and you won’t be charged for that current month.
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Book Ratings and Reviews
Each book I review is based on my opinion. This does not mean you will agree with the review or love/like/dislike the book, too. There’s a quote that says, “No two persons ever read the same book” by Edmund Wilson, and it’s quite true!
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