Sunday, July 22, 2007

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

by Gregory Maguire
Published 1999
368 Pages

Genre: Fiction

Cinderella--a story that has survived many ages, has been told through the generations, of beauty, perseverance, and happy every afters.
Maguire's style is charming and quite alluring--he reaches into the depths of the fairy tale to bring truth and realism to a story full of magic and wonder.
The story begins through tragedy--as most fairy tales do--surrounding the lives of Margarethe and her two ugly daughters as they flee their home in England in search of safety--in search of fortune. What they find leads them into a twisted world full of deception, jealousy, love, growth, and beauty.
Maguire's themes do echo those found in many versions of the widely rewritten tale; however, his "prequal" dives deeper, exploring regions and characters overlooked by Grimms and others over the years. The ugly stepsisters, who essentially discover Cinderella, have been overshadowed in previous renditions by the beauty of Cinderella portrays. Maguire, however, allows readers to see the inner workings of the household in which they lived and brings life to the sisters who were once only known for their profound ugliness, both inside and out.
Retrospect is a technique Maguire employs through the stepsisters, which allows them (and the reader) to see things as they really happened--with no bias--merely memories etched in their minds.
Although the climax does not come until the final chapters, the relatively slow rising action period is well worth the read through. Secrets are revealed and understanding becomes truth. Maguire brings light and life to the classic fairy tale.