Hobbling home under a mackeral sky, I came upon a group of children.
A retelling, a reimagining of Cinderella, Maguire here attempt to create a more realistic picture, through the eyes of the “ugly stepsisters”. There are no pumpkins turning into golden carriages, and no fairy godmothers, instead we get a mother and her two daughters fleeing England for Holland and the security of their grandfather’s house. But he is dead, and Margerrethe is forced to beg as she attempts to feed her children. When she gets work as a housekeeper/cleaner in an artist’s house, it is only her first step up society’;s ladder so that she can ensure her children never go hungry again.
Mostly told by Iris, a plain but intelligent girl, we soon learn all about Clara, the beautiful possible changeling that we now know as Cinderella.
Overall I quite enjoyed this book. Iris is an interesting character, and although none of the others quite seem to match her reality they are all entertaining. Clara is a bit of a mystery, why she never wants to leave the house, why she believes herself a changeling.
But in the end it always seems to be wanting to be more than it is, a fairly entertaining story. The book seems to want to say something profound, about beauty, and life. But it doesn’t achieve it.