I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
All the Ever Afters
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."
Top 5 reasons why I loved All the Ever Afters, in no particular order.
1. Fairytale re-imagened
Just a little heads up: this isn’t your typical fairytale retelling. In fact there is NO MAGIC *gasp* and no talking animals. This reads as a historical fiction and given that the cover is a little misleading, I’m not letting that get in the way of my judgement. The reason that it’s not what I expected made this a stellar read for me.
2. The “Evil” Stepmother’s story.
I always wondered about the back story of Cinderella’s stepmother. We all know how she’s portrayed in the classic fairytale, but one wonders why and how badly the truth was twisted for it to be in favor of Cinderella.
I liked Agnes, I felt sorry for Agnes, and I actually agreed with Agnes. Agreed with the way she raised her daughters and Cinderella. Her hardships made her into a strong character that was both vulnerable and stern at the same time.
One fair bit of warning. If you are steadfast in your opinion of Cinderalla and might take umbrage of a slightly (less appealing) version of the character don’t read this book. However, if you are interested in a different take on her character, by all means pick it up.
Two words: Spoiled brat. Okay actually, here’s a few more: Slightly annoying and a bit loony.
If you aren’t afraid of these descriptors, I highly recommend this book.
4. The Stepsisters
I LOVED them. Not normally what I would find myself saying, but oh goodness, I felt so sorry for these girls. They had everything working against them from the minute they were born.
5. The writing style
I really enjoyed the ease and flow of the author’s writing. There were times that the story did drag a little bit, but the plot was interesting enough for me sit back and enjoy the storytelling.