Sunday, September 03, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

Confessions of an Ugly StepsisterConfessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read Gregory Maguire books before and enjoyed them, so I was really surprised when I didn't love this one. I liked it, but I didn't love it.

One reason is that it just seemed to go on and on. I felt like Maguire took too much time leading up to the main conflict. Some of the backstory was necessary, but he spent far too much time on the Master's paintings, the tulip business, the bit about changelings, and explaining why the mother and her ugly daughters left England for Holland. If I were able to abandon books, I would have, but I pushed through it despite the unusual syntax and 17th century language. It got better just over halfway through, and that's just too long.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is basically the "true" story of Cinderella. It is not the sweet story of our childhood. There is no fairy godmother or a coach made from a pumpkin. But it explains why those things are part of our beloved story. It is told from the perspective of one of the stepsisters.

Margarethe and her daughters Iris and Ruth find themselves (in 17th Holland) in the employ of a rich man, Van den meer, who has a beautiful daughter, Clara. When Van den Meer's wife, Clara's mother, dies suddenly, Margarethe is all too happy to step in to those duties, and Van den meer willingly allows her to. He is going broke due to the tulip trade. When the Dowager Queen Marie de Medici visits Haarlem, bringing her eligible nephew with her, a ball is planned.

Let me caution you, though. Things do not happen the way they do in the fairy tale. In fact, there is a surprise waiting for the reader in the epilogue. That was the best part of the book.

If you are patient and can get past the s-l-o-w parts, you will be rewarded with a good ending and a satisfying story. I just wish it hadn't taken so long to get there.

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