Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Paperback

By (author) Gregory Maguire

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  • Publisher: ReganBooks
  • Format: Paperback | 383 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 232mm x 26mm | 520g
  • Publication date: 1 December 2000
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 0060987529
  • ISBN 13: 9780060987527
  • Sales rank: 140,531

Product description

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 afflictionSet 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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Review quote

?[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

Editorial reviews

A revisionist view of Cinderella's adoptive family dominates this brilliantly plotted fantasy from Maguire, a popular children's book author whose first adult novel, Wicked (1995), offered a similar reimagining of the land of Oz. The time is the 17th century, the place Holland. And the story begins when Dutch-born Margarethe Fisher brings her daughters from their native England to the thriving city of Haarlem, where a kindly grandfather's home promises safe haven. But Grandfather has died; preadolescent Iris (who narrates) is too plain to marry, and elder sister Ruth is an ungainly simpleton scarcely able to speak. A beautiful "changeling" child seen through a window confers a kind of blessing on the astonished Ruth, and the resourceful Margarethe quickly restores their fortunes, installing them as house servants to portrait painter Luykas Schoonmaker ("The Master") and later marrying Luykas's widowed and wealthy patron, importer Cornelius van den Meer (whose willful, strangely reclusive daughter Clara is that very "changeling"). As Margarethe seizes ever greater riches and power, Iris begins to blossom into a confident young woman whose artist's eye earns her the respect of both the Master and his handsome apprentice Caspar, becoming a handmaiden-mentor whom the highborn beauty Clara eventually accepts as a sister. Maguire's patient re-creation of the world of the Dutch burghers builds a solid realistic base from which the novel soars into beguiling fantasy when its links with the familiar Cinderella story become explicit. The visiting Dowager Queen of France arrives in Haarlem seeking a worthy portraitist. A lavish ball, Clara's enchantment of a Handsome Prince, a climactic fire, and a wonderfully ironic surprise ending all figure prominently in the superbly woven climax and denouement. 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)