Thursday, July 23, 2009

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon slipped past my radar for a few months since it didn’t appear in any of my regular searches and alerts for new fairy tale related fiction. I try, but many slip between the cracks to my chagrin. I am an Amazon Vine reviewer and was surprised when I found this book as one of my choices for the month. I buy most of the books that I get for SurLaLune, so I always appreciate review copies. I plan for this blog to be one of my methods for singling out new titles in the future.

But back to the book…

Unlike many of the reinvented fairy tale novels published recently, Turgeon’s Godmother isn’t aimed at young adult readers, but adult readers, with its edgier and more enigmatic handling of the content. It reminded me somewhat of Gregory Maguire’s work in the genre than any other author’s although Donna Jo Napoli and several short story authors have lots of sharp corners in their stories, too. I found myself thinking about Napoli’s masterpiece The Magic Circle every so often while reading this novel since both offer similar themes of older women seeking redemption from past mistakes.

Godmother is the story of Cinderella’s godmother, banished to the mortal world after her bad handling of Cinderella and the prince. This godmother, Lil, barely resembles the usual fairy godmother imagery. She is not a benevolent, rather flighty, bringer of good fortune. Well, at times, yes, she is, but not in the expected ways. Lil is bereft from her losses and lonely although blessed with friends and people who care about her in the mortal world. Now that she is banished, stuck living in New York City and working in a small rare bookstore, she desperately wants to return home. She is desperately trying to re-earn her wings to borrow the cliché of angels. She finds a new woman, Vivian, she hopes to help and thus redeem herself. The story unfolds, mixed with flashbacks to 300 years earlier when she first tried to help Cinderella win her prince.

There are a few surprises and twists and an ending that will most likely either satisfy or frustrate the reader. This book explores the psychological side of the character while still telling an interesting story. It’s a fairly easy read, not an overly heavy or long one—it’s considerably shorter than anything by the above mentioned Maguire, for one thing. I’m still digesting it, not adoring it, but enjoying it all the same, more intrigued than anything.

So yes, I recommend it. I admit the book sat on my stack of TBR books (always an overwhelming stack) for a while since the reviews had been mixed and I was reluctant. Consequently, I ended up liking the book much more than I expected to. If the subject and themes interest you, try it and don't put it down until the end which will hopefully make it all worthwhile for you.


  1. Hello! Just saw this on my Google Alerts.. I love the SurLaLune site, and am so glad you were able to see my book.. I wish I'd thought just to send it to you myself! I shall try to remember for my next book, which is a retelling of the little mermaid, out next summer... and plenty of its own sharp edges (it would be hard for it not to, given how grim, yet so gorgeous, the original is..!)...

    Thank you!


  2. I should begin by sharing that I am a fan of all things mermaid related. My home is filled with statues and collectibles, and I have more than one mini-shrine devoted to the Disney adaptation of the classic story. That said, this particular novel took a few chapters to really capture my interest.