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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a different "Cinderella", Jan. 10 2001
This review is from: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: A Novel (Paperback)
First of all, "Confessions" is a very, very different version of the Cinderella story. For one, Clara, our Cinderella, is not the kind, gentle, hardworking girl the fairy tale has. She is spoiled, stubborn, and timid. The evil stepsisters are not evil; Iris, our main character, is plain, but smart and has an eye for art, and Ruth, the older stepsister, cannot take care of herself, cannot speak, but does have a good heart. Margarethe, the stepmother, is not nessecarily evil, but ambitious. She will do anything and everything to ensure that her family has enough food, but it is her own greed that brings the downfall of their family.
That said, "Confessions" is good, but if you have a very strong version of the Cinderella tale, I wouldn't recommend it that much. This could have actually happened; and the book is vivid with detail; the poor souls the Master paints, the tulips, the day the river freezes over . . . everything.
It has the same basic plot as Cinderella: a mother and her two daughters marry a wealthy man who has an unearthly beauty for a daughter. Only, Clara is not forced to work; she retreats to the kitchen and ashes to hide from Margarethe, and even gives herself the name Cinderella. Iris struggles to help Clara, and still be loyal to her mother and Ruth, but an offer to be the apprentice to the Master, a painter, is too good to resist. When the night of the ball does arrive, Clara is convinced to go, though she does so reluctantly. At first, Iris and the prince hit it off, and then enter Clara. Prince and Clara disappear into another room, where they remain for the remainder of the evening. Do the prince and Clara fall in love? Is there a glass slipper? Is Clara really a changling? Is there more to Ruth than what meets the eye? What secrets lie in the past. Read, and you'll receive answers, kind of.
Like I said, the book is wonderful, and reminds me a bit of The Midwife's Apprentice, but it is an entirely different Cinderella. Not love at first sight, fairy godmothers, or perfect heroine. Real, flawed people, rich detail, and magic hiding in the smallest places. For a different, more fairy tale-ish version of Cinderella, try Ella Enchanted, or try Robin McKinley's Beauty for a different version of Beauty and the Beast.
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Location: Hollister, CA USA

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