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Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Review by SS

This is a retelling of the story of Cinderella, from the persepective of one of the stepsisters, as the title suggests. Iris and Ruth, and their mother Maragareth escape England and enter the lives of Clara and her father.

I had expected this book to be a comedy, but if it was meant to be funny in a clever or ironic way, it didn't appeal to me. I found this book irritating and boring. The prose is the thing I dislike most about it - it's written in present tense and so renders the whole narrative passive. Nothing seems to happen. The language is choppy and vague - perhaps the author is trying to be suggestive etc etc but it's just plain irritating.

The characters are also annoying: ugly Iris, who is the heroine, always hard done by. Ruth, her big, stupid, slow elder sister. Their mean and selfish mother Margarethe, who will NOT stop moaning and whining and scheming through the whole book. I suppose that's what makes a wicked stepmother, but it's irritating to read all the same. Clara is the spoilt and strange Cinderella. There's also the painters the Master and his apprentice Caspar. I didn't like any of the characters at all, certainly not enough to care about what happens to them next. I only finished the book so I could give it a bad review.

So there you have it. I really did not like this book. If you want fairy tales, go read the version which goes "Cinderella had two mean and ugly step sisters but she married the prince anyway". Steer clear of all this drivel that is incorporated into this book - there's no point and I am convinced it's just a huge waste of time and effort. Expounding a fairy tale is very effective when done properly, but when done as pathetically as this it is just stupid.

I give this 1 out of 5 amulets. And recommend that you don't read the book.

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