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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful re-telling
This review relates to the paperback edition.

During an enforced 3-hour stopover at Los Angeles airport I found this and couldn't resist the cover or the blurb. I haven't read/seen any of his books, so had nothing with which to compare this, and I loved it. It runs alongside Cinderella in a non-parallel line which every now and again curves in to touch the...
Published on 20 May 2008 by Deborah

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The pumpkin doesn't stop here
I read this dark unusal twist on Cinderella but didn't enjoy it as much as "Wicked".

The setting of Holland is very well painted as are the descriptions of the 3 girls. However, Clara needed a bit of a slap several times during the book! So, maybe it has moved me enough to make the character annoy me!

I'm intrigued enough to read his other books.
Published on 22 Sept. 2006 by Mr. Alan A. Barham


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful re-telling, 20 May 2008
By 
This review relates to the paperback edition.

During an enforced 3-hour stopover at Los Angeles airport I found this and couldn't resist the cover or the blurb. I haven't read/seen any of his books, so had nothing with which to compare this, and I loved it. It runs alongside Cinderella in a non-parallel line which every now and again curves in to touch the fairy story and remind us of the original, but at the same time keeps very much to its own path. The setting of 17th-century Holland is evocative and atmospheric, including the use of art and the tulip-trade, the machinations of the desperate Margarethe are terrible and at the same time understandable, and Iris is - well, she's lovely. There are comments in some reviews that there is no magic in this book and strictly speaking that's true, but there is definitely more than a hint of something other-worldly and dangerous that lurks in the background and pervades the atmosphere of this book.

The illustrations are lovely - I hope they have been kept in the hardback edition.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an interseting take on an old story, 4 April 2006
This review is from: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Paperback)
i actually wanted to read this book because i'd seen the film adaptation and i was interested i where the idea had come from. the film itself while intinsically the same varies in a few ways, so dont assume you can skip the book and watch the film. But i'd advise you not to skip the book as it is beautifully written and a joy to read. it's a real page turner of a book. i loved it because i just love that whole reinventing a fairytale concept.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant re-working of the Cinderella story, 26 May 2002
This review is from: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Paperback)
You will fall in love with plain Iris as she lives her life in the shadow of the beautiful, troubled and petulant Clara. The book explores the nature of beauty and love, painting and the early tulip trade in Holland. Full of twists and surprises. Don't miss it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark fairy-tale of old, 2 Mar. 2009
By 
By turns funny and tragic, this story reads like a fairy-tale, one of the important yet disturbing ones by Andersen for example. There is innocence and loss thereof, kindness and cruelty, meditations on the function of art in relation to beauty, and an ending so layered you'll be baffled as to whether it's actually happy or not. Add to that a framing device so clever it will guide yet deceive you until the very end, and you've got a very good book indeed. Sadly though, like "Wicked", a couple of scenes make this unsuitable for the kiddies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful re-telling, 18 April 2008
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This review is from: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Paperback)
During an enforced 3-hour stopover at Los Angeles airport I found this and couldn't resist the cover or the blurb. I haven't read/seen any of his books, so had nothing with which to compare this, and I loved it. It runs alongside Cinderella in a non-parallel line which every now and again curves in to touch the fairy story and remind us of the original, but at the same time keeps very much to its own path. The setting of 17th-century Holland is evocative and atmospheric, including the use of art and the tulip-trade, the machinations of the desperate Margarethe are terrible and at the same time understandable, and Iris is - well, she's lovely. There are comments in some reviews that there is no magic in this book and strictly speaking that's true, but there is definitely more than a hint of something other-worldly and dangerous that lurks in the background and pervades the atmosphere of this book.

The illustrations are lovely - I see this has just been re-released in hardback and I hope they've kept them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The pumpkin doesn't stop here, 22 Sept. 2006
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This review is from: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Paperback)
I read this dark unusal twist on Cinderella but didn't enjoy it as much as "Wicked".

The setting of Holland is very well painted as are the descriptions of the 3 girls. However, Clara needed a bit of a slap several times during the book! So, maybe it has moved me enough to make the character annoy me!

I'm intrigued enough to read his other books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting reworking of the Cinderella story, better for being less odd than some of his other works, 10 Jun. 2011
By 
Katie Stevens "Ygraine" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Gregory Maguire is an author probably best known for his adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, Wicked. Ifve read the entire trilogy, with somewhat mixed results: Wicked itself I enjoyed and thought it was quite clever but the series became increasingly strange and peculiar and much less enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book, unlike his others that Ifve read, was a straightforward historical novel with touches of otherworldliness which worked beautifully to enhance the story rather than to make it strange and off-putting. Maguire took a familiar story and retold it in a way which made it new and interesting again, and that was exactly what I was hoping for.

The story is set in Holland in the 1600fs, against the backdrop of the tulip boom. The eponymous ugly stepsister is Iris, a young girl who flees from England to Haarlem with her mother, Margarethe, and silent sister Ruth. Once there, they find the family that they expected to take them in are dead and so the family take up work as housekeepers in a painterfs studio in order to survive. When a rich businessman comes to commission a painting of Clara, his beautiful daughter, with some of his prized tulips Margarethe sees the opportunity for advancement and acts to unite her poor family with Clarafs rich one. But, as in all fairy tales, all is not entirely as it seems and plans go awry.

Often when books choose to take an alternative perspective on a well-known story it is to show that character in a more sympathetic light, so I was surprised by the very balanced way in which Maguire presents Iris and indeed all his characters. Iris is downgraded from ugly to merely plain, she cares for her disabled sister, tries to befriend Clara and is credited with intelligence, but she is headstrong (and not in the pretty, charming way that a lot of heroines are headstrong), sullen and uncooperative. Maguire hasnft made her seem nice, he has made her seem real and believeable. Clara, the Cinderella figure, is likewise knocked down from her fairy tale princess pedestal and into the realms of mere humanity. She is beautiful and intriguing, yet on the other hand she is fey, neurotic and unable to accept things outside of her own terms. Where Cinderellafs beauty traditionally liberates her from a life of drudgery, Clara is very aware that she has very little control over her own fate in spite of her attractive appearance, something which makes the schemes of Margarethe, the wicked step-mother, seem more reasonable and justified and imbues her with a steely resolve that is more driven by self-preservation than cruelty. Ruth, the second sister, is by far the most interesting character despite playing an ostensibly minor role in the story; readers of fairy tales will know never to trust appearances and Ruth does not disappoint.

The choice to place the story in the context of the tulip mania of the 1600s, when tulips became so popular that a single bulb could sell for more than ten times the annual wage of a skilled labourer, is a clever one. As Clarafs family soon learn to their peril, the tulips had no inherent worth and the speculation which had artifically inflated their price was all an illusion and so the setting encourages questions about true value, worth and beauty which are particularly fitting for the story. Why should Clara be considered worth more than Iris just because she is aesthetically pleasing and Iris is plain? Why is Clarafs father happy to use his shy daughter as promotional material for his business venture? Is value inherent or something subjective that the beholder or buyer adds? It definitely provides an interesting background against which to read the story of Cinderella.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange Take on Cinderella, 7 Feb. 2007
By 
G. Bruist "princess_gwen" (Goucestershire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Paperback)
Confessions is a very strange take on the cinderella story. I enjoyed the plot as Margareath try's to keep her daughters from going hungry and off the streets. Cinderella or Clarissa (Clara) as a heroine is a minor character as was Bianca in mirror mirror. Gregory Maguire focuses more on the details of holland and the plight of the stepsisters and their mother really making the cinderella story in the background. A good read if a little confusing at times, if you percivere it is worth it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Art, 15 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Paperback)
This is probably my favourite book by this author. Although, there is actually no magic taking place in this story line, there are lots of ordinary actions that produce the same affect. The characters are all fully believable and hold your interest through this book. There is also a strong sense of the magic of art in this book - some of the descriptive passages are the best I have read in a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Confess better than Wicked!, 26 May 2008
By 
Philip Thompson "abby1710" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Paperback)
A brilliant take on the story of Cinderella that I really loved. Very clever and much more human than his other stories as there are no elements of fantasy but its just as magical. Son of a Witch is in my opinion Maguires best book but this is a close second.
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Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire (Paperback - 1 Dec. 2000)
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