Monday, April 25, 2011

book review: confessions of an ugly stepsister, gregory maguire


Most of us have probably heard of Gregory Maguire-- he is the famed author of Wicked, the novel on which the musical is based (and the musical is fabulous). 
This particular piece by Maguire I found I liked more than I thought I would; I found it at turns witty, gruesome, and thoughtful. It calls into questions issues that don't plague the mind everyday: what is the purpose of beauty? what befalls those who are not beautiful, what are their feelings? what is the purpose of art?
His rendition of Cinderella is clever and disturbing; she is not the lovely, sweethearted girl of ashes that we admire growing up. She is tortured and human.
The two stepsisters--Ruth and Iris-- tell the story. Iris struggles throughout the tale to come to terms with her new life in Haarlem, with Clara's beauty, her mother's madness, and it is also a tale of Iris's coming of age. She and Clara are dynamic characters. Both shift from children, frightened and superstitious, to engaging young women with minds of their own. Ruth, too, represents a level of change, and one that surprises the reader.
All in all, I highly recommend this work. Beautiful and ominous, and it does justice to the concept of childhood and fairytales.

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