Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister : A Novel

by Gregory Maguire | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0060987529 Global Overview for this book
Registered by jawin of Launceston, Tasmania Australia on 7/26/2004
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15 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by jawin from Launceston, Tasmania Australia on Monday, July 26, 2004
After the success of ‘Wicked’, this book continues Gregory Maguire’s revision of familiar tales. ‘Confessions’ is a very realistic (if a bit dry) account, of the well known story of Cinderella.
As children, we are taught that there are two sides to every story – and here is the other side to a favourite fairy tale
Turning the antagonists of the traditional story into fully fleshed-out characters with whom we can connect and empathise, he explores themes like morality, beauty, charity, and evil. Maguire reveals for us the other side the Cinderella story but he has an uncanny way of twisting and winding his tale to arrive at the ending we all know. I can actually imagine that these people might really have lived and had things happen this way. No magic, no pumpkins into carriages - just real life. He writes in such a way, however, that you can see how generations might have twisted the story around over time until we are left with the tale everyone knows.
Whilst not as engrossing as ‘Wicked’, I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it. A fresh perspective to a familiar story always leads to something interesting. What's next? A kinder, gentler Big Bad Wolf?


Journal Entry 2 by jawin from Launceston, Tasmania Australia on Monday, July 26, 2004
I have offered this up as an international book ring. Usual rules apply.

First stop is mrsordonez in St Louis. I'll post a full list in a few days.

Journal Entry 3 by mrsordonez from Fenton, Missouri USA on Wednesday, October 20, 2004
It arrived! I can't believe it, after all the PMs we have been sending. I had my first day off in a few weeks, and was cleaning my house. I found a package behind the couch, and there it was!!! How exciting. I about killed my husband, however, as he is the one who comes home and gets the mail first. I asked him how long ago we had received it, and he assured me it came only two days ago. Imagine that, bookcrossing karma. I have my own copy now, so I'll be sending this off lickety-split to the next reader. I'll post a journal entry in each book once I get it read. Thanks so much for your patience, and for sending this out.

Journal Entry 4 by jawin from Launceston, Tasmania Australia on Monday, October 25, 2004
Updating ray list - somwhat belatedly:

Gomboggit, Baker City, OR
Corry000, Chicago IL
Doris, Quebec, Canada
Iguana-girl, London, Ontario, Canada

Four months is a long time - even for sea mail. It is great that it arrived safely in the end.

Journal Entry 5 by gomboggit from Baker City, Oregon USA on Friday, November 12, 2004
Just got this in the mail. Will start reading it right away.

Journal Entry 6 by gomboggit from Baker City, Oregon USA on Friday, November 26, 2004
This is one of the best books I have read lately. I really enjoyed it. It is set in 17th century Holland, a time and period I have been studying for my husband's genealogy, and even some names are used that are in his family tree.
The characters in this story were written as real people, not stereotypically pure or wicked. One could feel for the hardships that the stepmother and stepsisters had gone through and see how certain events influenced them to do good or evil. Clara is not the typical Cinderella with the "poor me, I have to do all the housework" attitude; rather she prefers to be left in the kitchen to work, and she hates leaving the house and has to be coerced into attending the ball.
The epilogue had a surprising twist; totally unexpected. I like it when books are not completely predictable. I did not want to put this book down, and I can't wait to read the other books by this author.

Journal Entry 7 by corry000 from Chicago, Illinois USA on Sunday, December 12, 2004
Just got this in the mail and it looks really good. It shouldn't take me long to read it. Thank you for letting me read this :).

Journal Entry 8 by corry000 from Chicago, Illinois USA on Thursday, December 23, 2004
I'm almost done reading the book and so far it's been very enjoyable read. I like how the author combined fairy-tale with history. I am definately going to read more books by Gregory Maguire.

I sent a PM to the next person in the ring for the address but I haven't gotten any response yet. It's probably because of Christmas break. I'll send the book out as soon as I get the address.

Journal Entry 9 by corry000 at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Released on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 at about 12:00:00 PM BX time (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada) at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring Controlled Releases.

RELEASE NOTES: book sent to iguana-girl (Doris asked to be skipped)


Journal Entry 10 by iguana-girl from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Just arrived in the mail today! I can't wait to read it, it sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing, jawin!

Journal Entry 11 by iguana-girl from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on Thursday, January 20, 2005
This is a fun, quick read. I really enjoyed it, thanks again jawin!

Journal Entry 12 by iguana-girl from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on Monday, January 24, 2005
I will be continuing this book as a bookray.

Canada:
1) vibrant-art, Ontario
2) NeedSun, Ontario
3) sqdancer, Alberta
4) AceofHearts

US:
5) RaineeRose, NY
6) CdnBlueRose, CO
7) BelleMorte, AL
8) Mokona, MI

International:
9) kirst040, Australia
10) blurbren, Malaysia <---Book is here

After the first 10:
11) CheriePie, MA
12) violetsforfurs, Australia
13) eloisamos, Brazil
14) melydia, VA
15) MysteryMish, CA
16) cowgirl_up, OH
17) dospescados

Journal Entry 13 by vibrant-art on Sunday, February 13, 2005
The book arrived several days ago and I'm already almost ready to send it on...I'll journal again in a few days. Thanks for sharing this as a ring/ray!

Journal Entry 14 by NeedSun from Perth Road, Ontario Canada on Friday, March 04, 2005
This book arrived yesterday and I am looking forward to reading it. I have 3 bookrings in front of it, though, so it may take me a couple of weeks to forward it on. Thanks very much for sending this my way.

Journal Entry 15 by NeedSun from Perth Road, Ontario Canada on Thursday, March 31, 2005
It was a nice portrayal of the other side of the story and a wonderful example of how things get changed as they get told. The truth is never quite as clear cut as one would like to believe.

The book never called me to pick it up and read it. I enjoyed it and am glad I read it, but it was not a page turner.

I put it in the mail yesterday to sqdancer. Thank you,iguana-girl, for passing this book on.

Journal Entry 16 by sqdancer on Thursday, April 07, 2005
Arrived safe and sound. I'm looking forward to reading it.


Journal Entry 17 by sqdancer on Friday, May 13, 2005
Definitely a different perspective.

Sorry for the delay in mailing. I was having trouble finding the appropriate size packing envelope.

Sent to AceofHearts today via Expresspost confirmation number 0062 8470 0001 4848.


Journal Entry 18 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Monday, May 16, 2005
received today

Journal Entry 19 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Thursday, August 04, 2005
I enjoyed this book much more than Wicked. A very different perspective on an old tale. The Mother was something else. Maguire certainly has a very lively imagination. A twist here, a turn there and voila a completely different story

Journal Entry 20 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Saturday, August 06, 2005
mailed today

Journal Entry 21 by RaineeRose from Rochester, New York USA on Friday, August 12, 2005
Received today. Will read ASAP and then send on to CdnBlueRose.

Journal Entry 22 by RaineeRose from Rochester, New York USA on Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's so different from what I normally read that at first I wasn't sure I would like it, but I found myself wanting to read more. It's a fast, easy read. I would be interested in reading more of Maguire's work.

CdnBlueRose, BelleMorte, and Mokona have all asked to be skipped. I'll send this on to kirst040 ASAP, probably later this week. Thanks, iguana-girl, for offering this ray.

RELEASE NOTES:

Sending to kirst040. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 24 by kirst040 from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, November 03, 2005
This arrived today, thanks, I had forgotten it was on its way.
It goes on an ever growing pile of book rings & rays but hopefully I'll get to it soon.

Journal Entry 25 by kirst040 from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I've had this for almost a month so thought I'd post an update.
I started this yesterday, so far it's intriguing and I'm looking forward to getting further into it.

I have to admit that I don't even know the origins of the story of Cinderella - I assume it was some sort of European folk tale. I love that this is set in Holland anyway.

Will finish as soon as I can and send off to the next reader.

Journal Entry 26 by kirst040 from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, December 06, 2005
This is a wonderful story and Gregory Maguire is certainly a gifted storyteller. I loved the complexity of the characters and the fact that the lines between good and evil and beautiful and ugly have been blurred, allowing the reader to discover each for themselves. The subplot around the artist and the tulips were great and were able to reflect the main storyline - what I think was really a parable about judgement and predjudice.

This was my first Maguire and I'm looking forward to reading more.

I have blurbren's address and am on my way to the post office to mail it off now. Sending airmail - should take about 2 weeks. Thanks everyone that's been involved in this ray.

Journal Entry 27 by blurbren from Ipoh, not specified not specified on Thursday, January 26, 2006
It's here! Sorry for the delay in journaling it. I'm at the third section of the book and will send it off as soon as possible. The pace of the story is slower than I expected, but the characters are so real.

Journal Entry 28 by blurbren from Ipoh, not specified not specified on Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Wow. I totally didn't expect the ending! :)

Very, very good retelling of the story. Very believable. Iris is fleshed out so real, and so is her mother. I just wish I could really know Clara better, and Ruth. Perhaps another book, a proper one on Ruth?

I liked the book so much, I even flipped through the last few pages of the book to glance at the questions under the "Reader's Group Guide". Hmm... interesting questions. So no one is as they seemed. They don't even see each other as they really are.

The book was a real treat to read. Thanks so much for sharing, jawin and iguana-girl!


Book is in an envelope waiting for the next person to send it to. No replies from CherriePie. Am waiting for iguana-girl to come back to me on the fate of the book.

Journal Entry 29 by CheriePie from Campbell, California USA on Tuesday, May 30, 2006
This arrived today. I've got some other things to read ahead of it but should be able to start on it within the next few weeks. Thanks!

iguana-girl, I noticed the shipping order is all over the place for the last readers after me. It's totally up to you of course, but do you think it'd make more sense for me to send it to finish up the other 2 US readers before sending the book back over to Australia again, or even having it go to Brazil before Australia. This way it'd spend less time in the mail and more time in the readers hands, and they'd in turn get to read it quicker. Just an idea... let me know if you decide to switch it around. But I'll check here again anyway before I'm ready to send it off just in case you have.

UPDATE 29-JUN-2006: I'm planning to use this book in karendawn's online Fairy Tales class over at BookRelay, so I'll probably have it in my possession a little longer than the usual month. Let me know if this is unacceptable.

Journal Entry 30 by CheriePie from Campbell, California USA on Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a retelling of the Cinderella story which takes place in 17th Century Holland. While it retains a lot of similarity to the original story, at least more so than some of the other Cinderella stories we've read so far, most of the "magical" and otherworldly events have been given more real-world characteristics.

The cast opens with two sisters, Ruth and Iris, and their shrewd mother Margarethe, who are fleeing England by boat to Holland. Margarethe, originally from Holland herself, had moved to England when she married, and upon the death of her husband, assumed she'd be able to find family in Holland to live with until she could get her family back on their feet. Ruth, the eldest sister, is described as a simpleton: she's rather large, learning-impaired, and somewhat mute. Iris, a few years younger, is very astute and smart, though rather plain looking. It is around these three characters that the story primarily revolves.

Since any remaining family Margarethe once had in Holland has all since passed on, the three are left to travel from house to house, seeking shelter in exchange for work. After a short stay with the Master, where Iris develops an eye for art, they're taken into the van den Meer household, where we meet Clara, our Cinderella, a cloistered and coddled youngster whose forbidden to leave the house, and has since become too afraid to do so anyway. This initial portrayal of Clara, at least with regards to physical attributes, is not unlike the traditional Cinderella: she is a shy, beautiful girl with delicate features and golden blonde hair.

Shortly after Margarethe and her daughters have moved in to the van den Meer household, helping in the kitchen and with other household duties, Henrika van den Meer, Clara's mother, falls ill and eventually dies. Margarethe, ever the shrewd plotter, instantly sees a way for her to elevate her position in the household and announces her upcoming betrothal to Cornelius van den Meer, Clara's father. She then decides that housework is beneath her and assigns the majority of the household duties to her daughters. Clara, ever the spoiled little rich girl, initially refuses to help out, but once she realizes she can escape Margarethe for most of the day by working in the kitchen, she eventually resigns herself, discarding her beautiful dresses in favor of the rags of a house maid. She sleeps on the hearth and calls herself Cinderella, or Cindergirl or Ashgirl.

Of course, we eventually have the infamous ball. And like in the traditional story, Margarethe wishes to promote one of her daughters, Iris in this case, to the attentions of the Prince. Besides, the family has fallen on hard times due to market crashes, and Margarethe sees dollar signs with the possibility of Iris's marriage to the Prince. But Iris is convinced of her dour looks, and would instead prefer to see Clara attend the ball, if only to cheer her up a bit. She also figures that Clara has a much better chance of snaring the Prince than she herself. All this can only help the family, as both Iris and Margarethe realize, and we see how Iris is very much like her mother, but in a much less ruthless way.

Clara finally agrees to attend the ball if she can go with her face veiled, as if in mourning or penance. And as expected, she catches the attention of the Prince on her arrival. The two eventually retire to a back room with a bottle of champagne while the party goes on out in the main room. When a fire in one of the rooms of the Pruyns estate breaks out, all the guests flee, including Clara, Iris, Ruth, and Margarethe. The Prince, knowing Clara not by her true name but by Clarissa of Aragon, is unable to locate her again and sets out on his quest the following day to find who fits the slipper Clara has left behind in her haste. The slipper is made of soft white kid leather (not glass), originally Margarethe's who hasn't been able to wear them since her eyes have started to go. But once at the van den Meer household, the Prince also accuses someone in the house of starting the fire at the Pruyns mansion the night before. It is here he finds his Clarissa, who begs the Prince to shield her family from harm, no matter their faults or wrongful actions.

And they live happily ever after... ;)

Of course, there's a whole back-story to this tale too, with the Master and his paintings, and an attraction between Iris and the Master's apprentice, that adds a lot to the traditional story. And I really thought it went a long way towards enhancing the story too, making everyone and everything seem more "real" and less like a fairy tale. On reading this story, one could easily imagine that everything could very well have happened as was told here. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't yet read it, whether they're Cinderella fans or not.

UPDATE: I'm currently waiting to hear back from violetsforfurs, though it looks like she hasn't been active on BookCrossing for awhile. In any case, I'll give it a few weeks, and send another message in between before trying the next reader.

UPDATE 21-AUG-2006: Still didn't hear back from violetsforfurs after numerous PMs. Her bookshelf indicates she really hasn't been active since January 2005 anyway. So I've posted this to the next reader, eloisamos in Brazil, instead. It was mailed out on 22-Aug-2006 via Surface Mail.

Journal Entry 31 by eloisamos from São Paulo, São Paulo Brazil on Monday, November 06, 2006
Arrived!!!!
I´m really curious about this book but have 1 and half before it!!!!
I will try to be fast!
Thank you!

Journal Entry 32 by eloisamos from São Paulo, São Paulo Brazil on Monday, November 20, 2006
This book was great!!!
A reading that I wont´n forget, I know!
I really loved Iris and how much her caracter was deep!
Thank you

PS: I´m sending for melydia´s address.

Journal Entry 33 by eloisamos from São Paulo, São Paulo Brazil on Thursday, November 23, 2006
melydia asked me to be skiped from this ring so I´m sending for MysteryMish´s address.

Journal Entry 34 by eloisamos from São Paulo, São Paulo Brazil on Monday, November 27, 2006
i´M SENDING SECOND MESSANGE TO MysteryMish ASKING FOR ADDRESS...

Journal Entry 35 by eloisamos from São Paulo, São Paulo Brazil on Tuesday, November 28, 2006
It is going to MysteryMish.

Journal Entry 36 by MysteryMish from Santa Monica, California USA on Friday, December 29, 2006
I received this in the mail today. The timing is perfect - I'm almost done my current book. I am excited to read this.

Journal Entry 37 by MysteryMish from Santa Monica, California USA on Wednesday, January 03, 2007
I LOVED this book. The story idea was so clever - I never really thought about the stepsisters in the Cinderella story since it is about her. I also liked the twist of telling it as a realistic story that one could see morphing into our current version of the story over a long period of time with many retellings.

cowgirl_up is being skipped. PM'd dospescados on 1/11/07 and 1/18/07. Update 01/25/07 - book may be restarted as a ray.


SPOILER ALERT - DON'T READ ANY FURTHER UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK.




I was very surprised to find out the narrator was Ruth. It never even dawned on me. After the end, I went back and reread the first paragraphs where she talks about seeing children on the street playacting "her story." She is an old woman, and the children barely notice her. It was a neat way to tie the beginning to the end.

Journal Entry 38 by MysteryMish from Santa Monica, California USA on Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Mailing this to sbrina921 as a RABCK. Enjoy!

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