Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Cinderella by Any Other Name
(also known for
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 affliction. . .
With Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Gregory Maguire’s second novel, the author has accomplished a rare feat: he’s written a fantasy novel with no trace of the supernatural. In reinventing and recontextualizing the well-known story of Cinderella, Maguire has created a text in which fantasy acts as a metatext: readers’ knowledge and expectations of fairy godmothers, changelings and magic spells interact with the realist tale and imbue Maguire’s text with metafictional resonance. The fantastic, because of what readers bring to this novel, is screamingly conspicuous in its absence — an absence which creates a thrilling tension. Readers ask themselves: How will the Cinderella tale unfold if there is no magic? Every detail is illuminated by the focused attention generated by the impulse to solve this riddle.
Peanut Press/Palm Reader – 384 pages – 978-0-06-051739-7
Prebound-Other – 372 pages – 978-0-613-62136-6
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Clara was the prettiest child, but was her life the prettiest tale?
- There are no religious or magical aspects in the movie, Clara never calls herself a changeling and the gallery of God’s mistakes does not exist.
- Henrika disappears entirely; in the book she was poisoned by Margarethe and died during childbirth, while in the film she has been dead for many years.
- Clara is childlike in both behavior and appearance at the beginning of the book and slowly matures, in the movie she is already mature and only spoiled.
- Ruth is mainly mute and slow in the book, while in the film she talks more than a few times and often helps out.
- In the book, Clara is kept hidden by her mother until Henrika’s death, after which her mother’s teaching seems to have left an impression on her and Clara hardly leaves the house. In the movie, Clara hasn’t left since her mother’s death and is afraid of the things in the world.
- The movie adds in a fairy godmother figure.
- While the book’s ending is somewhat tragic, the movie ends on a happy note.
- The book is narrated by one of the “ugly stepsisters”, revealed to be Ruth. The movie is narrated by the Master.
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a work of true beauty, phenomenal power and urgent relevance. It is compassionate, intelligent and thrilling. Despite its fairy-tale origins, it contains no overt fantasy, but it is nonetheless fantastic in every way. | February 2000