Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007-2013. Please give credit where credit is due.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Book notes No.34 : Godmother: the secret Cinderella story, Carolyn Turgeon

Twenty-four degrees at 8am, and 31° at five. Hazy. The climb home was ... sweaty.

Every morning, silver-haired Lillian opens a second-hand bookshop in Manhattan's West Village. Before the first customer opens the door, even before she has made coffee or swept out the night's dust, Lillian secretly takes out her favourite of all the ancient and precious books in her care, Cinderella. On the inside back cover, someone has written, Tous mes anciens amours vont me revenir - All my old loves shall be returned to me. Each morning, Lillian reads the inscription sketched on the onion-skin pages over and over - this is a sign to her, a message that soon she will be offered a chance to redeem herself, and return home to the world of Faerie.

Disney made of Cinderella's Fairy Godmother a plump old lady in spectacles with a grey bun and a way with squirrels. Carolyn Turgeon, in this thoroughly enjoyable retelling, has portrayed her as a fairy of such beauty that in her human manifestation she has the power to make men insane for love of her. And therein lies the beginning of a tragedy that leads to the Fairy Godmother falling to earth in disgrace.

Two stories are woven together. The retelling of the events that led to Lillian's downfall and banishment to the world of the humans, and the story of her efforts in the here and now to create a new Cinderella and get her to the ball, suitably attired, in time for the prince to fall in love with her. 

Turgeon sets out to imagine the experience of the fairy in the world of humans. How would it feel for an entity from a race not given to emotion to suddenly feel what humans feel - love, desire, hunger, pain? Turgeon tells us in beautiful, sensuous detail. How might it be to be lighter than air, to play among the leaves, to fly with no more effort than the raising of an eyebrow? All wonderfully imagined and faultlessly expressed.

And along the way there are some interesting meditations on seeing and identity ("I just remembered the way he saw me, the way he made me someone new..."), on social invisibility and on our own ability to change our lives for the better.

This is a cracking pageturner. I gobbled it down in a couple of days, snatching chapters wherever I could. And the ending - which I am not going to spoil - makes this more than just a sand-in-the-spine beach read...







3 comments:

LadyFi said...

Sounds like a fabulous read. Thanks for the tip.

Carol said...

That sounds fabulous...right up my street!! I think I'll get a copy and read it on the plane when we're heading to Thailand. Thanks for the recommendation :-)

C x

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Love your description, including this: "more than a sand-in-the-spine beach read."

Friday, 2 July 2010

Book notes No.34 : Godmother: the secret Cinderella story, Carolyn Turgeon

Twenty-four degrees at 8am, and 31° at five. Hazy. The climb home was ... sweaty.

Every morning, silver-haired Lillian opens a second-hand bookshop in Manhattan's West Village. Before the first customer opens the door, even before she has made coffee or swept out the night's dust, Lillian secretly takes out her favourite of all the ancient and precious books in her care, Cinderella. On the inside back cover, someone has written, Tous mes anciens amours vont me revenir - All my old loves shall be returned to me. Each morning, Lillian reads the inscription sketched on the onion-skin pages over and over - this is a sign to her, a message that soon she will be offered a chance to redeem herself, and return home to the world of Faerie.

Disney made of Cinderella's Fairy Godmother a plump old lady in spectacles with a grey bun and a way with squirrels. Carolyn Turgeon, in this thoroughly enjoyable retelling, has portrayed her as a fairy of such beauty that in her human manifestation she has the power to make men insane for love of her. And therein lies the beginning of a tragedy that leads to the Fairy Godmother falling to earth in disgrace.

Two stories are woven together. The retelling of the events that led to Lillian's downfall and banishment to the world of the humans, and the story of her efforts in the here and now to create a new Cinderella and get her to the ball, suitably attired, in time for the prince to fall in love with her. 

Turgeon sets out to imagine the experience of the fairy in the world of humans. How would it feel for an entity from a race not given to emotion to suddenly feel what humans feel - love, desire, hunger, pain? Turgeon tells us in beautiful, sensuous detail. How might it be to be lighter than air, to play among the leaves, to fly with no more effort than the raising of an eyebrow? All wonderfully imagined and faultlessly expressed.

And along the way there are some interesting meditations on seeing and identity ("I just remembered the way he saw me, the way he made me someone new..."), on social invisibility and on our own ability to change our lives for the better.

This is a cracking pageturner. I gobbled it down in a couple of days, snatching chapters wherever I could. And the ending - which I am not going to spoil - makes this more than just a sand-in-the-spine beach read...







3 comments:

LadyFi said...

Sounds like a fabulous read. Thanks for the tip.

Carol said...

That sounds fabulous...right up my street!! I think I'll get a copy and read it on the plane when we're heading to Thailand. Thanks for the recommendation :-)

C x

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Love your description, including this: "more than a sand-in-the-spine beach read."