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The Godmother [Mass Market Paperback]

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

11 Feb 1999
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's The Godmother puts a new twist in contemporary fantasy with the assertion that fairy godmothers exist here-and-now and they have magical power that allow them to intervene in real-world problems. The story is grounded by being set in and around a social-services agency in Seattle and by making her central character sympathetic and realistic but the author still manages to have a lot of fun with idea. Rose Samson is neither fashion-model beautiful nor a twit and she happily joins forces with Felicity Fortune, a "Godmother" who demonstrates that the basic situations in Grimm's fairy tales are still relevant in our humdrum modern world. The two work with many people including a sweet and smart pair of Hansel and Gretel-like abandoned children named Hank and Gigi, a Snow White ("Sno") who is royal if you count her father's rock-star status and "Cindy," who is suing her stepmother for control of her trust fund. In all their encounters, Rose and Felicity try to blend their magical aid with realistic human initiative and social responsibility. Scarborough's fully-realized settings and the humor built into the mix of magical solutions and grim reality make this work an entertaining and compelling read.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Ace mass-market ed edition (11 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441002692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441002696
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 9.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,248,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for fairy tale lovers. 17 May 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I don't know how she does it...but she does! This book brings old favorites into a modern setting without pushing the line. This book gets better with every reading! I keep noticing something that didn't quite "hit" the time before...The same runs true to with "The Godmother's Apprentice" and "The Godmother's Web."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 8 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I couldn't put it down. Read the "Godmother's Apprentice" right after it - and was really sad to part with the characters after four days. Can't wait to get the "Godmother's Web"!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and interesting 3 July 2010
By Fren
I loved the way old fairy tales were turned upside down and even inside out! The characters were interesting and the story line was great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 20 Oct 2010
A Kid's Review
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I just couldn't put this down, and another sleepless night was had, having to finish this book. Magical!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairy Godmothers in today's world? You bet! 14 Dec 2001
By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In traditional fairy tales, fairy godmothers show up when they are least expected but most needed, to right wrongs and assist those in peril. Enter Felicity Fortune. Summoned to Seattle by a sweet but burned-out young social worker named Rose, she sets out to solve problems both modern and ageless with magic and kindness.
You see, there are many young people in danger in the city. Hank and Gigi have been abandoned by their mother and kidnapped by a child molester. Cindy has just been fired from her job by her own stepsisters, and booted out of her family home. Snohomish is hiding in the woods from a hit man hired by her jealous supermodel stepmom. Dico is living on the streets, unable to get any breaks...until he meets a magic cat. Any of this sound familiar? LOL
In this entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking novel, we see that today's problems are nothing new, and that a little kindness goes a long way. One caveat: Scarborough can get a little sledgehammer-ish with her political views. While I agree with most of these opinions, sometimes the character of Rose talks more like an editorial than a normal human being making conversation. Still, I found this relatively easy to overlook. Overall, I recommend _The Godmother_ to anyone who likes this sort of thing.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Godmother 27 Dec 1999
By Linda Moore - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am an avid science fiction reader and was looking for something new. Elizabeth Scarborough had co-written several books with Anne McCaffrey, which I had enjoyed, I was looking for some other books that she had written when I found The Godmother. The book is a very interesting blend of SF, current urban political realities, magic and an updated version of the Grimm's fairy tales with a liberal dash of humor.
Scarborough does an excellent job of developing real life characters. This book is both light hearted and thought provoking. I can't wait to get started on The Godmother's Apprentice.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but somehow not quite there for me 21 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Scarborough is, without a doubt, a talented writer (as if one needs me to tell one that). Her prose just about sparkles; it is a delight to read. It's too bad this story is so.. I don't know.. not up to par. It's like a poorly-fitted dress on a supermodel.
The titular Godmother is the best of the characters here. She swoops in at the behest of the heroine (a typical do-gooder a la "Briar Rose"'s Becca, matryr complex, filled with love for the downtrodden, hardworking and without a romantic interest in sight, etc.) to save the entire city. Along the way, she rescues people who closely resemble characters from old fairy tales (the passage in the book that I liked best was her appearance as Kwan Yin to an Oriental gangbanger -- powerful and entirely believable, but alas, probably lost on most people), like "Red Riding Hood" and "Hansel and Gretel".
It felt like the story took the easy way out in many ways. Of course Hansel and Gretel was about molestation, for example. Many vignettes were too easy, too manipulative, too baldly obvious. Some characters were very stock in nature. The end spiralled out of control fast, coming to a conclusion that I had to read twice to believe I'd seen. I don't get into stories that are too pat, too obviously forced together, but this had that feel, in spades. And the bit about magic being doled out irked me for some reason -- very hokey and totally unnecessary, particularly since, having introduced the device, Scarborough promptly stomps it for the whole rest of the story. She could have thought of a better way to lessen the use of magic.
Would I read it again? Not likely. Scarborough has written many better books, but this isn't one of the better efforts.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Example For Everyone 30 Sep 2001
By Jennifer Jones - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This novel is a shining example of how to make a faery tale fit into our contemporary lives. The spirit is still the same, and the dangers are still as real; but they're brought to a level that the modern person can empathise with. From Snohamish's drug use, to the abuse and mistreatment of Cindy Ellis and Little Hank and Gigi. Even Diego, with his "Puss and Boots" storyline is more real and heart wrenching than any "real crime" drama.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult subject matter, handled awkwardly 1 April 2012
By Tracey - Published on
This felt a little like Charles de Lint in its exploration of extreme misery and child abuse overlaid with magical assistance. One thing I will say for de Lint, though, is that at least he never rubbed my face in a toddler's point-of-view scene of child rape. Thank you for that. I'm not marking that as a spoiler, because a) it was almost inevitable and b) everyone should know about that going in. I wish I had. I probably wouldn't have read it if I'd known. There unfortunately is no such actual thing as brain bleach.

In the end, the book adopts an appropriately fairy tale pretty-darn-near-happily-ever-after stance... but that, in truth, makes it a terribly sad ending. Very few of the problems are fixed - the child who was molested, for one, will never be what she might have been, and neither will her brother, and that could have and should have been prevented; the Cinderella stand-in is worse off than she was in the beginning, and the plotline did her horse no favors at all. And, on a larger scale, the dismal plot devices of poverty and violence and drugs and abuse and murder are all too real - they are present in every city (or any other gathering of human beings). There are no fairy godmothers - or if they do exist they have rigorously avoided me all my life. And while most bureaucracies are not - I don't think - quite as bad as the one depicted here as far as ill intent, they're anything but perfect, and always overwhelmed. And there isn't anyone to swan in on a cloud of rainbows and glitter to try, even ineptly, to make it any better. The final pages in particular are larded with the sort of humor heard in morgues and police stations, and ... sorry, I'm not a cop or a coroner, and not so dulled to the horrors that the humor seems in any way appropriate. A child was raped; another was almost murdered three times; another was homeless and fighting for his life. Don't expect me to giggle a few pages later over a pissed-off toad.

It's one of those books that I read willingly while it was in my hand, but did not pick up eagerly; I thought about tracking down the sequels, but it's also one of those books that do not improve with being looked back on: the more thought I give it the more it irritates me and the less I want to continue in this world. So ... while the writing was technically good, and the idea was ... interesting, I can't say this was a successful book. It's urban fantasy, certainly, and fits best under that description, but while the representation of urban Washington State/Puget Sound area was vivid, I've seen many better urban fantasies. Despite many of the trappings, it can't qualify as escapist fantasy; there is no escape to be found here. But it's also hard to swallow as a message book (in part due to that damn cat). I'm not sure what, in the end, the point of the book was, if there was one; the moral of the story is, I suppose, to be kind to each other and not wait for magic to step in.

Problem is, no one is really listening.
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