Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]

[I have a major gripe with the inside cover of this book, that I’ll get to in the review]

 

“A retelling of Cinderella; Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, the plain younger daughter of Margarethe Fisher, as she takes care of her mentally challenged older sister Ruth and her beautiful stepsister Clara.

 


This book is written by the same guy as Wicked, so I’m familiar with his writing style. To be honest, I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for probably like… eight or so years now and kept putting off reading it, and I’m not super sure why? I got it out of a super mega discount bin [I think I may have literally paid a penny for it, if I remember correctly] and then obviously just sat on it. But after organizing my reading queue, it was now time. It was a good choice ultimately because it was a quick, simple read overall and was a nice shakeup from my last book which was a very long process to read through. That being said, it was… okay? An interesting take on Cinderella, but ultimately I’ve seen/read so many it still sort of blended in.

Some of the things I want to bring up is;

1. What is up with Maguire’s focus on weird menstrual stuff in his stories? In his Snow White book he felt the need to explain that SW didn’t have a period while she was in a comatose state, and then proceeded to have a mega period to make up for the time she was out. If I remember correctly, as apart of the explanation that Elphaba’s allergy to water requires her to have to bathe using oils, and that included during her period. Then in this book, it mentioned that the older stepsister, Ruth, [who is mentally challenged] got her period and reacted to it by laying around her her hand between her legs, and her younger sister got her period and snapped at Clara [Cinderella] about it. I get it, and I really appreciate Maguire’s attempts to make his female characters more realistic because: menstruation happens. But the circumstances they’re brought up aren’t… normal? They don’t have any other benefit to the stories and don’t really cause a change or effect in the story at all. It’s bizarre. I’m popped out of the story every time it’s happened. This is such a weird little tidbit to bring up, but I dunno. Throws me out of the reading groove every time.

2. So, if you look at the link I gave above of the book cover, it has a little window to a picture of a secondary cover that I’ve posted below.

I’m going to warn that from here on, CW for sexual assault/pedophilia/rape and major spoilers. [I’ll put the spoiler text in white]

 

What we have pictured here is Clara [Cinderella] lounging in a chair and looking at us [the viewer] with a smile and seemingly doing nothing to stop a man from pulling up her dress, seemingly seductively. It seems like based on the title and this image, that we’re going to get some kinda scandalous story of what really happened with Cinderella. 

Except for what actually happened in the scene above was heavily suggested to be rape. 

Clara is literally called a ‘girl child’ the chapter before. She isn’t a consenting adult, and I don’t care what you have to say about the timeframe that the book is supposed to be in about being ‘normal’ for the times.. She was a pre-teen, at the oldest. She goes to the ball, and is hounded by the Queen and Prince himself to dance with said Prince. They do not take no for an answer. So she has to lie and say that she has sprained her ankle and cannot dance. She ends up in a room alone with the Prince and he insisted on taking her shoe off to massage her ankle [which is where the ‘lost shoe’ aspect comes from]. Chaos happens to cause visitors of the ball to need to leave, and she is separated from her party/family and is continued to be left alone with the Prince. 

She comes home very early in the morning, weeping/her makeup shown she had been crying for hours, her dress ripped, her underskirts/underwear ripped, and her underwear/garments having blood on them, and bruised. The evil stepmother points out the blood and her no longer being virginal. She is sullen, traumatized, and attempts to just hide near the hearth and wishes to no longer exist.

Then the Prince comes to the household for a reason other than Clara, she just happens to be there. He’s there to attack someone else, and she comes forward to protect that person and offer herself back to him if it means that he’ll leave that person alone. She had specifically before said [after it’s realized that she was raped] that she never wants to see or hear of the Prince again. 

And yet, the art above is what we get to convey the scene? Like… what the literal fuck? Taking a scene of rape and changing it to something seemingly consensual and enticing? That’s offensive as Hell. 

I do believe there’s an updated/alternate cover I’ve seen since this book is rather old, but it’s not nearly as popular.

Anyway… [severe side eye]

The book/story is fine. If you like classic fairytales, or ones that are retold in a new way, you’ll probably enjoy it or are a general fan of ‘fairy tale’ style fantasy.

 


I give Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister 3/5 tulip plants 

Rating:

[No interesting Quotes, it was just kinda simple]

 


 

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