Danielle Teller comes the blog today with her Cinderella story with a twist: the story of the ‘evil stepmother’ in her own words, as she tells us of her life and perhaps sheds yet another layer on the ‘how did we get to a pumpkin turned coach. Please read on for my review of
All the Ever Afters
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a fantasy. Yes- the fantastical story of Cinderella is how we get this perspective, and a sense of the otherworldliness comes forward from the language use, flow and description, in a very medieval setting, full of manors and peasants, court intrigues and daily lives and challenges. Teller wrote a book that is smart, atmospheric and completely unexpected, drawing readers in to see the moments as they unfold, and perhaps understand just how Agnes came to be so reviled.
Far from the “Disney” version, Agnes’ life was one of toil and troubles: sent off at ten years old to the manor house as a laundry girl, the work and her low station meant that she was more apt to be treated as a beast of burden than a necessary cog in the household. Finding a way ‘out’ to fill in for the abbey –she there found a touch of kindness, learned to read, and was charmed by a rake – only to leave the abbey in disgrace, pregnant with a man who doesn’t want the commitment of her. Two children later, and she’s running her own life, of sorts, but the machinations and manipulations of her life as both a vassal and a woman are not yet over. Abuse, dirt, hard work and finally an opportunity brings “cinderella’ into her life. A Cinderella who was spoilt, slothful and nasty in private, gloriously beautiful and docile in public, focused on only what makes her happy – with little to no regard for anyone or anything else.
Add to the mix, the evil stepsisters are the ones subjugated and scorned, Agnes is doing her best to keep the peace and offer up opportunities for her daughters, but her own lack of connections and position often means that tongues must be held and patience is her first and only defense. More a treatise and insight into the time, the attitudes and human behavior as everyone looks to get a foot up and shine, Agnes is a solid, steadfast character, seeking only to make her own way in the world through hard work and determination: readjusting her behavior and direction with each new obstacle.
A lovely story that, while not fast-paced, is wholly evocative of the time, the dirt, attitudes and struggles of one on the bottom rung seeking to survive and perhaps thrive in times that didn’t expect or allow upward mobility without a price being paid.
Title: All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother
Author: Danielle Teller
Genre: Fairy Tale Remix, Historical Fiction / Fantasy Elements, Medieval Era
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 22 May, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 30 minutes
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In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.
We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?
As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .
A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.
Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: