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We have all heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty ... and what curses accompanied Cinderella's looks?Set against the backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an UglyWe have all heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty ... and what curses accompanied Cinderella's looks?Set against the backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris's path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister. While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household -- and the treacherous truth of her former life....

Title : Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060987527
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 372 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister Reviews

  • Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
    2018-09-17 11:31

    “In the lives of children, pumpkins turn into coaches, mice and rats turn into men. When we grow up, we realize it is far more common for men to turn into rats.”I enjoy Maguire's work. He combines lively characters with literary writing.Unlike Maguire's other, wildly successful novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, this retelling leaves behind magic, instead relying on a genuine historical period and uncanny characters to imbue the novel with an unworldly tone. Although there is no magic in the story, it manages to feel magical for the reader.Maguire is not a newcomer to telling stories that deconstruct old narratives, and in my opinion this attempt was more successful then Wicked for several reasons. One of my major criticisms of Wicked was the inconsistencies and underdeveloped plot arcs. This was so problematic that they changed the ending of the stage production to improve the narratives cohesiveness. He has a much more basic plot to work with here. The benefits of a tighter narrative result in a much more satisfying novel. He is able to focus attention on his strength as a writer- complex, multifaceted exploration of character. I never particularly liked the story of Cinderella as a child and as an adult some of the more troubling aspects of the tale became apparent. So it's no surprise that this novel is primarily occupied with female solidarity, self- preservation and conformity. Iris is a compelling and sympathetic main character. Her relationships with her mother, sister, step- sister Clara (Cinderella), and the painter's apprentice, Casper, form the loci around which each of these issues is explored. “No, my girl, you know nothing of how we women are imprisoned in our lives, but there are ways to determine the sentence we must serve.” Iris' relationship with her mother is fascinating. Her mother is spiritually suffocated by her obsession with appearances and survival and it was heart rendering at times to see how this fear crippled her daughters. “To consider what other people might say is hardly a good reason to take action or to defer it. You have your own life to live, Iris, and at its end, the only opinion that amounts to anything is that which God bestows” Iris struggles with accepting and understanding herself and the people around her. This is not the sort of book you can passively absorb. I thought a lot about what various characters did and said and what I felt about that.The setting and writing was a lush and richly formed tapestry. If you enjoy literary writing, you will likely appreciate it, even if the metaphors are occasionally too heavy handed. However, one of the problems with the novel is that the characters are too difficult to love. To truly love a book I think you need to fall in love a little with at least one of the characters. There are exceptions of course, but even Silence of the Lambs has a weirdly aspirational element to our fascination with Hannibal Lecter. The characters here felt too strange, too flawed to really admire. In addition, the climax felt abrupt and at times elements were introduced that were a little too esoteric. The belief the girls had that Clara was a changeling was never really developed, and at times it was hard to see why certain things were included. Despite this I would recommend it to people who enjoy more adult or literary retellings, especially if they enjoyed Wicked. For me, it was a satisfying read.

  • Amanda
    2018-09-30 11:30

    I love books based on fairy tales, but it's taken me forever to really read any of Maguire's stuff. I still haven't read "Wicked." Years ago, I tried reading this book and just couldn't get into it. But with so many people telling me how great this guy is, I decided to give it another shot. This book follows the story of Iris and Ruth, two little girls who, with their mother, flee from England after their father is murdered. Poor and begging, they have no choice but to first take a job as the housekeeper to an artist, then to a merchant of the city (I believe it's Amsterdam but not entirely sure). Ruth, the oldest, is dumb and mute and taken care of by Iris, the younger, smarter sister, who shows artistic promise but is considered plain at best and will never be a beauty. The merchant's daughter, Clara, befriends the two young girls amidst her fear of leaving her home and her belief that she is a changeling. When her mother dies during pregnancy and Iris' and Ruth's mother steps in as matron of the household, Clara is held as nothing more than the beauty in which her stepmother will buy back her fortune. Having no interest in the outside world, especially a ball thrown by the prince's godmother, Clara makes the kitchen her domain, preferring to live with the ashes and do the housework than to travel into the regular world. Told from the viewpoint of one of the stepsister's this tale follows the Cinderella story in a completely different way. While the stepmother could still be considered "evil", "Cinderella" and her stepsisters are actually as true sisters...even through their disagreements they love each other. Even during the hard times, the plain Iris must deal with the dumb Ruth and the neurotic Clara, yet she does with patience and care. The writing is fairly descriptive and florid and made it hard to get going with. But once the story found it's pace, I found it to be a good read. Though I can't say it's one of my favorites, the ending touched me and I am curious to read more of this author's work.

  • Emilie
    2018-10-17 11:28

    Maguire's ability to come up with an interesting story is far better than his ability to tell the story. His writing is often a bit too labored, his symbolism too transparent, and his literary devices a bit clunky.Like 'Wicked', 'Confessions' offers the reader a variation on a well-known story. Also like 'Wicked', 'Confessions' is not really all that much to write home about. A somewhat creative variation, but one in which many of the characters are incredibly hard to like, and the story just falls flat in the end. The epilogue reads like something that has been tacked on in order to make up for loose ends, and ultimately transforms a story that seems like it is trying to veer away from the formulaic fairy tale mold into a "happily-ever-after", problems-solved-in-the-last-five-minutes kind of thing. I wouldn't exactly call it satisfying.

  • Jami
    2018-09-27 11:41

    This was an easy read and an interesting take on the "Cinderella" story, but it wasn't amazing. It felt like it gave a very long build-up to a climax that was vague and unexciting and a denouement that was pretty disappointing. Only as an epilogue do we discover what happened to Iris, the main character of the book, and even then, it is brief and without many details.Many of the ideas introduced into the storyline also felt as though they were left hanging at the end of the book. Clara, the Cinderella character, seemed a very flat character to me, although she could have been interesting if the author had developed her more.Mostly it was disappointing to not get the completion of Caspar and Iris's relationship after the entire book leads up to it. You would think that if the story was written down by Caspar, as the epilogue explains, then we would have gotten it more from his point of view, rather than Iris's.Overall, it was an okay read, but I'm not sure I want to read Wicked now after reading this one.

  • Bfalla
    2018-09-28 15:29

    I am an idiot. I did it to myself again. After reading “Wicked” and hating it, I decided to give Gregory Maguire another go. Apparently, Maguire is my literary equivalent to the corner brick on my fireplace that I keep stubbing my toe upon, even though I know it’s there and I know it’s going to hurt.But I picked up "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister", thinking I had to give Maguire another try. He shows glimpses of pure genius, so I was hoping he’d be able to channel it properly. After all, how can he screw up a story about Cinderella?Well, he can and did and in the same manner he’s screwed up his Oz stories: diarrhea of the keyboard. I am now convinced Maguire can’t pace a story to my liking and his stories and characters are all too convoluted so that I am never sure exactly what is going on or even why I should care. I know Maguire’s deal is to show the human fault in everybody, but if I wanted that, I would watch CNN. I don’t enjoy reading books when I have to try to convince myself to like the characters when I don’t.Not to mention, Maguire can’t get from Point A to Point B without numerous side trips through the alphabet. He needs an author's Garmin.His plots remind me of doing a school research paper that is supposed to be 10 pages, only when you finish what you have to say, you realize it’s only four pages, so you go back and start shoveling in fluff to make it the requisite length.Maguire’s books have the same problem. The story is OK when you get to it, but you’ve got to take waaay too many dead end side roads to get to your destination, and by the time you get there, you’re pissed off and need to take a wee, which is convenient since all I wanted to do was piss on this book anyway.

  • Mahina
    2018-10-01 10:41

    I love fairy tale retellings...especially the ones that try to be the "True" version. Set in 17th century Holland during the Tulip craze this version of Cinderella is by far my favorite. The central character is not Cinderella (who is a spoiled brat) but Iris, the youngest of the two step-sisters. Margarethe returns to her homeland, Holland,with her two daughters - plain Iris and simple Ruth, afer her husband is murdered in England. She becomes the housekeeper for a painter. The traditional story of Cinderella is started on its course when a wealthy tulip merchant commissions the painter to paint his beautiful daughter, Clara, with an equally beautiful new tulip (for marketing purposes). Then through a series of events (change of job, miscarriage and death) Margarethe ends up married to the tulip merchant. Though I was not impressed by this story's Cinderella (Clara), a character I have always adored, Iris more than makes up for her as a strong and likeable heroine. Be prepared for the twist at the end!

  • Laura Cavendish
    2018-09-26 18:38

    I remember when I read this book for the first time. I bought it the day after it came out, because I was already obsessed with Gregory Maguire despite the fact that he had only written one other adult book at that point. I started the novel in the morning, the day I had to take my parents to the airport in Kalamazoo. We left that evening because their flight was an early morning one. I read and read in the car, getting fairly far. When we got to the hotel and had to go to bed, I COULD NOT sleep, so I got up went in the hotel bathroom, but a towel under the door and read the rest of the book staying up until it was time for us to go to the airport around 4am.It was FANTASTIC. I think this may be my favorite Gregory Maguire novel. I believe this is probably because it deals with artists during a fascinating period. It constantly amazes me how well Gregory Maguire can write books from a female perspective and get it spot on, when he is not a female.

  • Samantha
    2018-09-27 18:47

    This book gives a whole new view on the Cinderella, one that is completely believable. It offers a real setting(not just a land far, far away or a long time ago) and speaks of real people. It makes you think. Is beauty a gift or a curse? It offers a brave, out-of-the-ordinary heroine, one of the ugly stepsisters herself. The narrator shows you a new perspective on the Cinderella story. Perhaps the wicked stepsisters were not so wicked. Perhaps they had lives too. Perhaps their lives were actually better because they were not so beautiful. This seems to be a gift of Gregory Maguire's, to take old, well-known fairy tales, and make you question them. He can turn the clear antagonist of the story into a most wonderful, good protagonist. It makes you look deep, past looks, past what everyone else tells you.

  • Wealhtheow
    2018-09-26 18:38

    Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is way better than Wicked, not least because the characters have consistent personalities and the plot is coherent. I appreciated the sensory details and descriptions, and the various characters are original. There's a nice twist near the end which gave me a little brain jolt, and I always like that.

  • Evangeline
    2018-09-30 16:47

    Throughout the course of this book it looked set to gain two stars from me, but the ending ensured the confiscation of one of these. In fact, it almost deserves a minus rating because of it.The story was extremely slow in starting, and never really picked up enough pace to make it interesting. What i knew of the storyline beforehand was basically that it was going to be a re-telling of the cinderella story from the perspective of one of the stepsisters. What i didn't realise was that the fairy godmother element was removed in order to make the story seem like it could actually have happened in real life. I applauded the idea of this initially, but the unrealistic, and frankly diabolical ending flew back in the face of the idea. (view spoiler)[ The epilogue reveals Ruth, the supposedly disabled stepsister, to have been faking her disabilities the whole time, and to actually be the one telling the story and the perpetrator of at least two of the heinous crimes committed in the story, namely that of blinding her mother and setting a fire in a house where hundreds of people were gathered for a ball, just to destroy a painting. Whilst i can't blame her for taking revenge on her evil mother, the fire-setting was completely reckless and anyone with any sense would know they were putting innocent lives at risk, so was she evil too or still a bit slow after all? And why would anyone keep such a charade going for so long? She actually kept up the pretense of not being able to speak but to utter indistinguishable noises right up to adulthood, played with toys, cried and wailed and let her little sister lead her around and look after her. The fact she has no shame in all this means she was either mentally-ill or horribly twisted. Everyone seems to have their own theory on this, but i don't find any to be redeeming of this shocking twist which makes light of severe disability.(hide spoiler)]Also, the preoccupation of some of the characters with imps and changelings is tedious and makes no sense. Why take out fairy godmothers and magic mice to make your story seem realistic and then add in other mythical creatures? This story is all too dark and sinister for my liking. Cinderella is one of my least favourite fairytales, and i was willing to hear the story coming from another angle, but this book just made me appreciate the original tale more. I may now go and watch the disney version, and sing along with 'bibbity-bobbity-boo'! And i won't be reading 'Wicked' anytime soon.Oh, i have just remembered a positive about this book. The title is very clever, and although not exactly unique due to all of the recent copycat 'confessions of...' titles, it was original to start with.

  • Tara
    2018-09-21 11:34

    In the lives of children, pumpkins can turn into coaches, mice and rats into human beings. When we grow up, we learn that it’s far more common for human beings to turn into rats.If magic was present, it moved under the skin of the world, beneath the ability of human eyes to catch sight of it.Immortality is a chancy thing; it cannot be promised or earned. Perhaps it cannot even be identified for what it is.It’s the place of the story, beginning here, in the meadow of late summer flowers, thriving before the Atlantic storms drive wet and winter upon them all.So let my hands and my face make their way in this world, let my hungry eyes see, my tongue taste.Is this the main thing that painters of portraits care about? The person on the verge of becoming someone else?When the dawn light is coursing through the slats in the shutters at last, making thin stripes on the floor, she, tossing, decides that for every human soul there must surely be a possible childhood worth living, but once it slips by, there isn’t any reclaiming it or revising it.

  • Britany
    2018-09-25 16:43

    While I think Gregory Maguire is brilliant to tackle these twisty fairy tales, and show us the "other" side, for me, I think that his writing is to wordy and feels too crowded, or overkill to actually tell the story he is looking to tell.This is the story of Ruth and Iris, sisters-- THE step-sisters of Cinderella, aka, Clara Van Der Meer. Both sisters are ugly, but thoughtful, and care deeply about Clara. The happy fairy tale that everyone knows and shares, is turned upside down, and the real story is told.For me just too much. Too many words, too much emphasis on extraneous events, and the truly evil one here is the step mother- Margarenthe.

  • Lightreads
    2018-09-29 10:33

    A Cinderella retelling in the perspective of an ugly stepsister, from the author of Wicked. Hmm. Okay, this book is just "not quite." Which I need to put in the proper scale -- the set-up is brilliant, as Maguire's generally are, and the follow-through is good, and the denouement is fine. But I didn't want fine. I wanted this book to walk up to me and knock me on my ass with a right hook to the gut. Instead it came up, dazzled me with some fancy footwork, and then asked me for a sedate waltz. Parts of this book are sheer genius -- the cleverness of the title which you don't realize until the very last page, the autistic ugly stepsister, the treatment of beauty in art and in life, Clara/Cinderella as a voluntary shut-in, the setting in sixteenth-century Holland, the reality of a prince searching for a wife. And the writing itself is outstanding, the sentence-by-sentence pace intricate and beautiful. But this book, which was excellent by the standards of fiction everywhere, fell just that tragic bit short of the extraordinary thing that it could have been, that feelingwhen you read a book and it's as if the whole thing rings like a bell, the note perfect and clear and dazzling. And this sounded as if the author left his finger on the bell when he struck it, to over-extend the metaphor. I'm glad I read it, but I’m beginning to suspect this is Maguire's shortfall, and it makes me sad to see this beautifully conceived idea land in the realms of good and not blow-your-mind.

  • Jen
    2018-09-22 15:42

    I love this prequel to the age old story, Cinderella. IMO this was WAY better than the popular book, Wicked, by this author. I should also add that there's an interesting interview with the author on the final disc. It's always fascinating, to me, to get inside an author's brain.

  • Joy H.
    2018-09-30 11:24

    RE: _Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister_Below are the comments I made about this book at my GR group:I read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire back in 2003, but have forgotten to add it to my shelves here. I will do that today.I must have liked the book because I just found 15 pages of handwritten quotes which I had scribbled from it as I read! Even I can't believe it! LOL (These days I don't copy as many quotes because it's too time-consuming. I haven't got the energy either.)Below is one quote from "Confessions" which I just now found among my notes:=========================================================="Approval is overrated. ... Approval and disapproval alike satisfy those who deliver it more than those who receive it. I don't care for approval and I don't mind doing without."p. 182, _Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister_ by Gregory Maguire==========================================================I made the following notation for myself about the book: "Opens eyes to the world of art and artists."BTW, I see that I was reading the book from March 2003 to June 2003. Took me a while, especially copying all those quotations! (lol)PS-Another quotation from the book is below:~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~"Is there a relative value of beauty? Is evanescence - fleetingness - a necessary element of the thing that most moves us? A shooting star dazzles us more than the sun. A child captivates like an elf, but grows into grossness, an ogre, a harpy... a flower... only painting endures... But words endure too ... the small gesture of charity. Isn't that sort of beauty more beautiful than any other? ...perhaps charity is the kind of beauty that we comprehend the best because we miss it the most."-Gregory Maguire, _Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister A Novel_, p. 313~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • Griffin Betz
    2018-10-04 18:27

    *Two and a Half Stars*Having already read Gregory Maguire'sWicked I was something less than thrilled when I got roped into readingConfessions of an Ugly Stepsister for a decidedly informal book discussion group. It wasn't that I foundWicked a bad read, I actually rather enjoyed it, but the blurb on the back of "Confessions" lead me to think that Mr. Maguire had essentially repeated the same formula with a different fairy tale. (Actually, 'Wicked' was written after 'Confessions' but I read 'Wicked first...) Deconstructing a fairy tale and retelling it from the point of view of a traditionally unsympathetic character looses its novelty quickly.Anybody who has readWicked will instantly feel right at home. Mr. Maguire provides interesting characters and plots that keep a reader interested. That said, I found the writing itself inWicked to be more polished than the writing inConfessions of an Ugly Stepsister. The retelling of 'Cinderella' felt less developed and the world of "Confessions," 17th Century Holland, seems less vivid than Maguire's reimagining of Oz. With the novelty of retooled fairy tales gone, "Confessions'" ended up being a bit underwhelming. While the opening scenes were engrossing, the middle of the book was merely ok and the climactic scene, Cinderella at the ball, ended up feeling slow and flat. The post script seems like an afterthought.Mr. Maguire has turned his shtick into a cottage industry, which is fine. It's a decent shtick. But unless you're interested in going through a post-modern reinvention of every single one of Grimm's Fairy Tales, readWicked. The concept is the same and the writing and the plot are better.

  • Carrol Park
    2018-10-11 10:42

    Schönheit vs SchoonheidBeauty is in the eye of the culture. An individual’s outlook on the world includes their unique perspective of beauty, and is one of the remarkable topics implied in both Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire, and “Aschenputtel” by the Brother’s Grimm. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a Cinderella story retold from a Dutch stepsister’s perspective. “Aschenputtel” by the Brother’s Grimm is a German version of the Cinderella story. There are similarities and differences between these two stories, specifically those of natural beauty versus magical beauty, how perceptions of beauty are reflected in personality, and beauty’s effect on culture and society.Both of the stories clearly imply beauty in some way; however, they both present beauty in various ways. One contains an enchanted natural world and presents magic to imply beauty, while the other indicates realistic beauty. In “Aschenputtel”, Cinderella sings a song to the tree while weeping. The tree hears it and sends pigeons to help her: “The bird threw a gold and silver dress down to her, and slippers embroidered with silk and silver (Grimm 2). Two symbols in “Aschenputtel”, the tree and the pigeons, emphasize the beauty of humans, or in this case Cinderella, with the help of their magical power in nature. Opposingly, in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, the wildflowers are a symbol of nature’s beauty. Iris is asked by Schoonmaker to be his model in a painting of wildflowers. Later in time, when the painting is all done, Iris gets an opportunity to see the painting, and finds herself to be less attractive than she is in real life. Casper, who is the apprentice of Schoonmaker, tells Iris that “‘he’s taken and flattened all that is attractive in you’” (Maguire 51). It is because the master wanted to have heightened contrast between the two objects, the wildflowers and Iris.The master makes Iris plain and unappealing to make the flowers look more alluring than they are: “They’re about simple values, which are natural, not artificial or cultivated” (Maguire 51). These examples demonstrate that beauty is signified with natural features. Both the tree in “Aschenputtel” and the wildflowers in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister are significant factors to the two plots and characters in the stories, representing beauty.Secondly, a person’s character is often affected by their beauty. In “Aschenputtel”, there are two stepsisters and a stepmother who are “beautiful and fair of face, but vile and black of heart” (Grimm 1). Their father “bought beautiful dresses, pearls and jewels” (Grimm 1) to help them decorate themselves and make them prettier. The stepmother treated Cinderella with cruelty when she said "No, Cinderella, thou hast no clothes and thou canst not dance; thou wouldst only be laughed at" (Grimm 2). The stepmother and stepsisters are full of confidence and sassiness, with the attitude of looking down on people other than themselves. They exploit and take advantages of their temporary appearance and are careless about their inner beauty. Contrastingly, in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Clara is overprotected and exploited by her parents. Since she had a beautiful appearance, her parents use her by painting her portrait to make money. Even when “Clara refuses to sit for the sketches anymore” (Maguire 100), her parents are undaunted. She is just a monkey in a zoo who is there for the visitors, and as a result, She becomes a person who is very timid and temperamental. Clara hides herself in her room or the kitchen because she is afraid of leaving her comfort zone, and being recognized in public. She feels uncomfortable when she gets attention, and she rather “be alone and to play by herself” (Maguire 85). Even though both characters are beautiful on the outside, their inner color personalities are very different.Not only do perceptions of beauty affect a person’s characteristics, but they also have an impact on culture and society. Cinderella(also known as Clara in Confession of an Ugly Stepsister) is the one who is always getting attention in both versions of the Cinderella story. This is because Cinderella is the perfect example of beauty in society in both stories. In “Aschenputtel”, this is directly indicated when Cinderella presents herself at the ball and “everyone was astonished at her beauty” (Grimm 3). The prince notices her, and he “instantly took her by the hand and danced with no one but her” (Grimm 3). The prince is attracted by Cinderella’s outer beauty, without knowing her personality as a human. Perhaps, the ball itself demonstrates the importance of outward appearances in the culture, because the purpose of the ball is to find a bride for the prince judging only by appearance. In Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Clara is the one who always has to stand next to van den Meer to sell her beauty, and to be exploited by him. Everybody who does business with van den Meer is obsessed with Clara and the flower that she is holding. The quote “‘look--you want to see beauty,’ says van den Meer, a proud father, ‘look at her. Have you laid eyes upon a more pleasing figure? She’ll grow to be a fine woman’” (Maguire 75), shows that the society have standardized beauty which depends on her. Van den Meer’s “appreciation of his daughter makes Iris’s eyes sting” (Maguire 75) because his praise towards Clara’s beauty indirectly ridicules Iris’s appearance, which he thinks is not pretty enough. Van den Meer doesn’t care about people other than Clara, because she is the one who makes him money. The two cultures in these stories have differences, but the impact of beauty is applied in some way to both. Beauty is a powerful factor influencing many aspects in life, and is not just something that can be justified as superficial thing. The two authors, Gregory Maguire and the Brother’s Grimm, wrote two different versions of the story of the Cinderella with different interpretations of beauty. The analyses illustrated above identifies the theme of realistic beauty and unrealistic beauty, differing personalities formed by outer beauty, and the impact of beauty on society. After considering two authors’ notion towards the beauty, now is the time for you to think about; how is the beauty valued for you?

  • Yuna Lee
    2018-10-12 18:42

    Before reading : this perspective analysis contains a comparison between two Cinderella stories, "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" by Gregory Maguire and "The Little Glass Slipper" by Charles Perrault. Analysis GRASP Summative : How Does Perspective Impact a Story? Have you ever wondered why the typical stepmother and stepsisters who appear in the Cinderella story are evil and cruel? Gregory Maguire’s Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister might answer your curiosity by providing a deeper insight into the story of Cinderella. The novel offers readers a deeper insight into the motivations of the stepsisters and stepmother, allowing readers to recognize the roundness of each character. By contrast, “Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper” tells the story from a perspective that heavily limits the information presented about each character, creating only one-dimensional, flat characters. The authors use these different points of view in order to draw attention to specific characters, plot, and settings in the story, which has an immense impact on how readers feel about the story.The perspective of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister displays Iris’ struggles and thoughts well. Moreover, this book emphasizes her personal feelings toward other characters within the book. The narrator, Ruth, expresses Iris’s affection and longing toward Caspar, explaining that “[Iris] can’t spend years, months, weeks, in there with Caspar, she can’t spend a day, an hour. She can’t bear another minute. He doesn’t see how she burns for him” (Maguire 183). Furthermore, Iris’ emotion toward Margarethe, her mother, is often shown with her actions and dialogue with other characters. She is forced to do what Margarethe wants and be obedient Margarethe’s words: “I’ll obey you, of course” (Maguire 236). Even though she resents it because she knows her mother’s actions are immoral, she feels she has no choice but to obey since Margarethe is her mother. These examples reveal the stepsisters’ emotions, which in Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper are absent. The narrator in the fairy tale states, “[Stepmother] could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl” (Perrault 1). Except for this reason, there is a lack of reference as to why she takes bad actions. The fairy tale, The Little Glass Slipper only provides fragmentary information; it depicts the cruelty of stepsisters without explanation of personal struggles and thoughts. The different perspectives in Maguire’s novel engage the audience by offering insight into the motivations of one of the stepsisters. Through the view of Iris, based on Ruth’s belief, Clara is called as Cinderella by herself because she is not merely a kind victim but a stubborn character who has great defiance and self-assertiveness. In the novel, Clara actually wants to be in the kitchen, where she feels “the more secure ... The more needed, the more private” (Maguire 201). She stands “up straight behind her mask of ashes” as she decided something important: “Call me Cinderling, Call me Ash-girl, Cinderella, I don’t care. I am safe in the kitchen” (Maguire 210). She felt safe in the kitchen since Margarethe becomes the mistress of Van den Meer house, it was Clara’s only personal area; she puts on ashes and dust on purpose. Clara’s hatred toward her new stepmother made her volunteer to be in the kitchen in order to avoid her, showing that Clara was not just an innocent victim; in the story, she alienates herself. She has more control over her actions and chooses to antagonize Margarethe. Contrastingly, in The Little Glass Slipper, the protagonist has been called Cinderella by her stepmother and stepsisters, with derision. After “[Cinderella] had done her work, she used to go into the chimney-corner, and sit down among cinders and ashes” (Perrault 1) to avoid the cruelty of her stepfamily. Moreover, Cinderella is practically a servant of the house, forced to spend most of her time in the kitchen. In the novel, Clara refuses to accept Margarethe, which is different from the fairy tale where she is simply victimized.The novel’s perspective also gives more information about why the stepmother acts the way she does. In the beginning of the novel, “Margarethe stands, her hand pressed against her ribs, heaving, trying to keep from weeping with rage” right after they flee from England to Netherlands to evacuate her children from hunger and death (Maguire 16). She is desperate, trying to do whatever she can to survive. The rage she feels comes from the fact that no one around is willing to help her, despite how much she is begging and crying for help to feed herself and her daughters. Furthermore, the narrator also indicates why the family came to the Netherlands in the first place: Margarethe is threatened after she sees people “cornered [her] man … They hit [her] poor Jack on the head with an eel spear. [Her] daughters and [herself] left under cover of darkness the very same evening fearing for [their] lives” (Maguire 14). They came to escape the cruelty and violence in England. However, The Little Glass Slipper only depicts an evil aspect of the step family without providing surrounding circumstances. In general, The Little Glass Slipper provides only a simple setting.Therefore, different perspectives can draw attention to specific characters, plot, and settings in the story. Perspectives vary the in depth of character comprehension, a mood of the plot, or the aspects with enough/lack of setting. The novel, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and the fairy tale, Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper both draw enjoyment from readers in different strategies; thus, readers may comprehend stories in numerous ways. As readers learn about Iris’ inner aspects, how Cinderella’s personality is depicted in a variety of ways, and Margarethe’s motivations for her actions taken, eventually they will comprehend characters’ circumstances better.

  • Tamara
    2018-09-23 18:37

    I'm sorry, I just cannot get into this story. I don't know what it is exactly but I just can't get into it and it's boring as hell. The author writes very well and very clearly. I've read a couple other books by him. But for whatever reason I just simply cannot get into this story. Just not interesting at all for me. I gave it a chance. That's all that matters.

  • Audrephilia
    2018-09-19 13:39

    I always thought Cinderella might secretly be a bitch. Or at least the story could be told in shades of grey instead of the good/evil dichotomy most stories are told in, especially fairy tales. This one was rife for Maguirizing—a story about girls where beauty is good and pure and being anything except a conventional beauty is evil and disgusting. Maguire really likes to tackle these girl heroes and show a dark side. When he’s not taking girl villains and showing a bit of light. I read Wicked and liked it, even if I was pretty surprised at how dark and unlike the musical it was! I read this and liked it okay, but was a bit disappointed. This is going to sound shitty coming from some non-writer but have you ever read someone’s published and popular work and thought they have potential that hasn’t been realized? I like Maguire’s writing style. It reads like older literature, makes excellent use of forgotten expressions (or at least those whose meanings have been convoluted over time), and really works with cultural paradigms of times past so you remember why things are fucked up. Because history was fucked up. It was easier with this novel than with Wicked since Wicked took place in a completely alternate world. This novel took place in historic Holland. I like Maguire’s feminist focus. I like complicated or misunderstood characters. This one just didn’t hit the spot, though. I feel like a much better job could’ve been done with turning the fairy tale into something realistic and having all the ends meet and with great foreshadowing.. I don’t know. I feel like JK Rowling had a good formula for taking a big, complex story with 20 moving parts and having them all fuse up perfectly by the end of the book. (With the exception of Hermione’s romantic prospects.) It’s been a while since I’ve been impressed with that level of story writing. Not prose (where Maguire is rock solid) but STORY. Maguire’s stories, even Wicked, have these long droning and super dull moments where it becomes way too easy for me to put the book down and walk away for days or weeks. It takes me SO LONG to finish his books. They could be so much more engaging! I don’t think I’ll read another book by him unless I’m told it’s very exciting by trusted people. It didn’t help that I bought about 8 other books I was super excited about while I was “reading” this! (More like staring at it sitting on a table until I could bring myself to get through descriptions of paintings or Iris’s really unimpressive contemplations.) This book could’ve been SO MUCH BETTER. When a friend told me it’s a story about Cinderella and how she wasn’t the hero, I got so excited. Imagine the disappointment! I wouldn’t describe it like that personally. I’d say it’s an unnecessarily long book about some girls who are disappointed with life and nothing works out. I know that’s not gonna sell it well, but if you’re honest, you CAN’T sell this well. I don’t know, some people like books about people’s rough predicaments and thoughts and experiences. I don’t. I was told this was akin to Wicked! Not that Wicked was action packed. It took me a really long time to read that, too. But compared to this, it was a thriller! I’m just glad I can move on and now I’ll approach Maguire novels with liberal caution.

  • Samantha Cheh
    2018-10-16 11:30

    COAUS totally blew me away. You'll start off a bit confused but expecting the same tale of Cinderella: the girl, orphaned by her parents, abused by her stepmother then escapes to the ball with the help of her fairygodmother. She dances with the prince and falls in love and then disappears. The prince shows up and they live happily ever after and the step-family get their just desserts. So, if you've ever read WICKED, you'll know that Maguire has a way with redeeming the villains. I've always said that the problem with rationalization is that once you have a view point, there will always be a bad guy. And sometimes that bad guy ain't so bad. Maguire has always had this amazing way with words and even when writing from the second-person viewpoint, it was beautiful. I am aware that not everyone can write in second-person because it's so difficult but you can't fault Maguire with this. It was one of those some-kind-of-wonderful books that you're always trying to find. In the beginning, you'll start to love Iris, the main stepsister though she is the younger. You'll hate Clara and you'll find yourself trying to empathize with her, simply because you KNOW she's Cinderella. But it's not possible because Maguire characterizes each person so well that you'll hate the princess. There was a sort of dark and gritty take on it, how he writes the truth in an ugly light. He writes reality - you're going to find yourself a bit shocked but you'll realize that it's true. It also addressed one issue I am particularly prickly about. Beauty. I've never been particularly pretty, am the furthest thing from beautiful - but that's measuring myself by a different scale. This book was amazing because it really pointed out that Beauty (see how important an issue it is - I've capitalized it and everything) is not necessarily the deal breaker. It was why I fell in love with Iris - she was so realistically self-deprecating that it made me feel like it's okay to not be pretty. (hah, now I'm going to plain a post on beauty)In a nutshell, it was great. The ending was satisfactory and you'll slowly learn to love Iris and even Ruth with all their flaws. Nothing much to be said about Margarethe because she's appropriately hateful and you'll even love the Master and (oh my stars!) Caspar - my third favourite character after Iris and Ruth. If you can, pick this up and fall in love with Cinderella :)

  • Amanda Pearl
    2018-09-30 11:32

    I don't know what it is about Gregory Maguire, but I keep reading his books thinking I'll like them and I end up being disappointed at best, but more often than not annoyed and put off. I love the ideas of his novels, but every single one is a let down. Confessions is not so terrible as Mirror Mirror or Lost, but I'm still leaving feeling like he could have done so much more. There is all of build up in this novel and the ending feels rushed, like he got bored half way through and just decided to stop writing. Also, I am surprised at the lack of sexuality in this book, which is a very prominent topic in some of his other books. This story seemed ripe for sexual exploitation, and if there was any it was only hinted at. There were many aspects of this book that I thought were almost good, but just not quite developed enough. I think I will always try and fail to enjoy his writing.

  • Sarah (Workaday Reads)
    2018-10-08 15:23

    This was such an inventive retelling of Cinderella. It felt almost true to the original story, but with a change in perspective.

  • Charming Oh
    2018-10-17 14:28

    Me, you, and them about CinderellaHave you ever heard of FPS type games? It is one of the most famous genre of video games. It stands for First Person shooter. In this type of games, all the things happening in there goes on with the first person’s view, which is you are playing from a perspective of your main character. But when you see other players in the game, you see them as a 2nd person’s view, which is your view of others. Then let’s say your parents are watching you playing that game. Then, your parents are looking you and other players as a 3rd person of view, which is just like a narrator. The book, “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” is a fiction fairy tale. It is based on the famous fairy tale, called “Cinderella”. The author, Gregory Maguire created this book with the purpose of ‘Cinderella for adults’. In this book, Gregory Maguire uses different perspectives in the prologue and epilogue, compared to the main story; with this technique of differing perspectives, the author involves his readers in figuring out who has what memories. First, the changes of perspectives make readers to get more interests about this book. At the prologue, the person who talks and tells the story is in first person’s perspective. There, before even the main story starts, the speaker describes the characters coming out at later parts of the book. Also, it is described in past tense, which means this is a memory of the speaker. Speaker is an unknown person. By using the unknown speaker to describe the memories of that speaker at the prologue, Maguire makes readers to get curiosity about what is happening throughout the book. For example, the part where it says “Clara, Clara, our Cindergirl, is dead”(Maguire xii) makes us to think about why is Cinderella dead. Also, that quote makes readers to think about if Clara is Cinderella because a usual name for Cinderella is Ella. Then, these interests created by unknown person’s story at prologue leads the readers to the main part of the story, starting with the ‘Chapter 1, The obscure child’, with the third person’s view. At the main part of the story, the changed perspective help us to get into the book, and understands better. The imagery used as a third perspective, which is not objective, but very subjective helps readers to understand and image the things described in the book better. “The back of the house opens out onto a sizable lot, bricked and gated and those iron gates locked. To one side, a kitchen yard for washing and food preparation, for the growth of herbs and vegetables. To the other side, opening of the salon, a small garden, Italianate in design, with pebbled paths and orderly paintings, and pilasters at regular intervals surmounted by granite balls. Behind both kitchen yard and formal garden stands a huge shed, and beyond that is a farmyard, where the chickens and a cow are kepts, and maybe other animals as well.”(Maguire 91). This long description for the backyard of van den Meer family’s backyard is written in the third perspective. With the detailed description and subjective word usage, it is really easy for readers to image the backyard of their house. Likewise, throughout the all main stories which is 359 pages long, things described in here as a subjective voice help readers to get into this book, make stories better and realistic. After this long and realistic journeys until the page 359, the grand finale, readers reaches to the epilogue. At the epilogue, the same speaker from the prologue come out and talks again in his own perspective. But since it is after all stories, the readers get to think about the prologue, and also understand what he is saying at the epilogue. “So now children play our family’s shame as a story in the streets. And Clara, our Cinderella, our Ashgirl, is dead”(Maguire 360). This quote reminds us about the prologue again. The same sentence about Clara is dead come out at prologue. But, readers get to read about that dead sentence without knowing anything at the beginning of book, while readers get to know all information when they dead sentence at the epilogue. This usage of similar writing at the beginning and ending with same person’s perspective, this book becomes more touching to readers to feel sympathy about the speaker, and also makes them to wonder about who is the speaker of prologue and epilogue. With that fact, readers also get to know who is the speaker is at the prologue and epilogue with the quote “Caspar has heard the tale and he has told it back to me, and as he tells it I play a small and stupid part, and this is as it should be. But I wasn’t as insensible as he portrays me. I was silent but not dull. I was slow but not vacant.”(Maguire 360). By saying about stupid, insensible, or dull, readers can notice that the speaker was Ruth. That stupid-described Ruth is telling the all story. This refreshes reader’s minds, and let them think about things written again, with Ruth’s perspective. Also, Ruth isn’t just talking, but Casper is actually writing the story by things Ruth is saying, by still considering her as a stupid. So, he kind of edit the story by his choice while he is writing. That can also give readers to think that some parts of stories written in this book might not be truth, but can be story that Casper actually wanted to happen. These are three parts of the Maguire’s usage of different perspectives. With that three examples in this book, Maguire is involving the readers to figure out who has what memories, makes story more interesting, and realistic. He used an unknown character and story at the beginning prologue to make book more interesting, and also to make readers to think about who is the speaker of that prologue and what is that person saying about. Then, with detailed descriptive writing written in third person of view objectively, Maguire makes scene in book more realistic, and help readers to image that part and memories of characters. Also at the last part, by using the speaker at the prologue again, Maguire finishes the story by showing another perspective again, to help readers to get to the answer of question that they got from the prologue, which is about the speaker and that person’s memories. It can sometimes helps readers to think more about book and think deeply, if the author uses many different perspectives, even though it sometimes looks more complexed or messy. We are living our life as a first person of view, and all the others are in other perspectives of our story. Our life is the book written by us, where the main character is ourself. Likewise, we can apply that idea to character in book, and by using other views of characters, characters in books become more realistic.

  • Emm ❤
    2018-10-01 11:44

    DNF for the time being. I wanted to like you, Confessions, so a revisit will happen eventually. The ugly stepsisters are some of my favourite fairytale persons, and I want to see them get justice for having to do the toe-chopping scene in the original Cinderella.But then, look what you do to the poor stepsisters! Talk about insult to injury! I don't know whether I like this interpretation or not...

  • Ryan Kim
    2018-10-14 14:34

    What is Valuable for Netherland Culture? The German artist Hans Memling is known for his artwork of Early Netherlandish Paintings and valued for his artwork. However, would people ever acknowledge how did the culture of Northern Europe build up Hans Memling’s ability to become a great artist? This essay is being written to introduce Holland’s culture through the book called Confessions of Ugly Stepsister. An American author, Gregory Maguire, wrote a modern day version of Cinderella from a Dutch perspective. Thus, the story is conveying cultural values from the Netherlands; such as rationality of one’s argument, the value of family, and the value of expressing beauty through art. Holland culture values rationality of one’s argument, and independence of argument from one's emotions. Rationality and independence of argument refer to the individual holding the consistent position that is not influenced by the given circumstance. "I'm the princess of the pots and the hearth today, I'm not the nursery maid," says Margarethe "Do it yourself." Though I'm distracted by the occasion, he replies formally, "I'm not insensible to insult, Margarethe Fisher" , is the quote from the chapter titled Reception (Maguire 119~120). Margarethe was emotionally unstable after talking with Schoonmaker and talked to van den Meer very rudely. However, van den Meer replies formally regardless of Margarethe's discourtesy. In the situation, van den Meer had a much higher authority and respect than Margarethe, but he kept his consistency even though Margarethe insulted him. van den Meer is native of Holland, and by resisting his anger and keeping his consistency is a good example of Dutch cultural value about the rational and consistent argument. This kindness of van den Meer links to the value of family for Netherland culture.The Dutch think the family-related stuff is the most important task, but they also see the family as the foundation of the social structure. Through the chapter titled The masterpiece, Schoonmaker is drawing the portrait of Clara with tulips because of the request from van den Meer, Clara’s father. There were a few purposes for drawing the portrait, but the main purpose was to use it for van den Meer’s business. His tulip trading endeavor and the portrait helped the business’s beginning by advertising the new variety type of tulip and even emphasizes his beautiful marriageable age daughter in the artwork. His whole plan involves Clara, in hopes of advancing business, finances, and marriage prospects. Also, one of the reasons is to preserve Clara's beauty for a long time as a portrait, which will be explained more minutely in the next paragraph.The value of the facial beauty that is shown to other was important, but when it’s preserved and catalogued in portraits was very important to the Netherlandish culture. "The portrait of Clara excited everyone. It's the start of his career all over again. ... Your mother should consider his suggestion that she return to his household. He'll be able to afford it" (Maguire 123) is the scene right after the party, when Caspar and Iris are having the conversation. This conversation is describing the expectation of Schoonmaker's successful business of art. The party that van den Meer held for his business introduction was very huge, and people who attended the party were impressed by the portrait of Clara, and Schoonmaker the painter. Thus, people requested Schoonmaker to draw his or her portrait which results in Schoonmaker's successful marketing. The success of Schoonmaker as an artist ensures his legacy of portraits for the next generation. Northern Europe and the Dutch especially has few cultural values and author Maguire expresses the key features through the relationships of characters in the "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister". Netherlandish culture strongly claims the importance of having the rational, and emotion-independent argument. Also, the family is the big part of the Dutch society as a member of society by oneself, but as an assistant factor as well. Lastly, Holland people assumes expressing their beauty to others to observe and preserve is very important factors for them to have. Moreover, listed Netherlandish culture can influence the Cinderella story, and Gregory Maguire aimed for it making few changes and wrote the book “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” based on Dutch perspective.

  • Noah Helman
    2018-09-22 13:23

    Different Perspectives on Cultural ValuesDifferent cultures have different ideas and perspectives because of their surroundings, this may be geological, traditions, thoughts, or just by the people around them. This essay is going to compare three different versions of Cinderella. The French version “The Little Glass Slipper”, the German version “Aschenputtel”, and one version written by Gregory Maguire called Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. All of the 3 stories are basically are the same story but all have a little twist in them. Cultural values form societies and families and is why some people act a certain way while other people don’t. Different nations and cultures usually tend to have different perspectives about cultural values, such as gender roles, children’s rights, and necessary punishments.Gender roles are important in these stories. In the French version, it seems like the stepmother had complete control over the father. “The poor girl bore all patiently, and dared not tell her father, who would have rattled her off; for his wife governed him entirely.” This shows that women still had some power around the house. We can see the same trend in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Henrika had some power and had control over decisions because it was her wealth that kept the family going. After Henrika dies, Margarethe gains control of the household by marrying Cornelius van den Meer. We can see glimpses of signs that van den Meer has some power but after the tulip disaster most of the power shifts over to Margarethe. In Aschenputtel, the father does not play a really big role, so we cannot be sure if he controls the family of not. But as it is in most of the Cinderella stories the mothers usually has the power. But "with great power comes great responsibility". It almost seems like Margarethe uses her power to take control over the children. This leads to a new topic, children's rights. In Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, it seems like Margarethe doesn’t really care about what the children think. She will always do what she wants to. In one scene, Margarethe blurts out “come near to me, girl, so I may strike you as pleases me” (Maguire 293). In Aschenputtel, the mother says “Is the stupid goose to sit in the parlor with us?” (Grimm 1) and after taking away Cinderella’s nice clothes, she exclaims “Just look at the proud princess, how decked out she is!” (Grimm 1). In “The Little Glass Slipper”, the mother assigns Cinderella with the “meanest work of the house” (Perrault 1). In all 3 stories, there is no real respect towards children and there is no good attitude shown towards them.Cinderella’s attitude towards the stepsisters and the ending are also important components to the story. In the French version of the story, Cinderella forgives her stepsisters, even though they have done cruel things to her. “Cinderella took them up, and, as she embraced them, cried that she forgave them” (Perrault 5). This may represent that the French thought that forgiveness was a way to solve problems. But in the German version, things do not end up well for the sisters. They get their eyes pecked out by birds. This shows that the Germans thought that having a consequence is necessary for such sin. For Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, at first Clara looks at her stepsisters like they are strangers but eventually opens up to them.All of this shows that different cultures think different things about different cultural values. Some perspectives on gender roles and children's right’s are similar, but Cinderella’s attitude towards the stepsisters are different and there is a difference in the punishments and endings. Cultural values and perspectives are what makes a culture unique and is why there are different versions of the same story. But in the same story, you can find small hints on what the culture thinks or feel about a topic.

  • Chanho Jung
    2018-10-15 17:34

    Different Kinds of Beauties in StoriesAn American novelist Thomas Wolfe said, “Culture is the art elevated to a set of beliefs.” Many Cinderella stories exist and each version represents their own culture. In many cultures, there is a difference in the interpretation of beauty; such as, reaching societal beauty, man-made beauty, and actions that represent beauty. The Dutch culture and German culture esteems different elements of beauty reflected in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and “Aschenputtel”.Many people want to be successful. In Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and “Aschenputtel”, the natural elements represents societal beauty. In 1600 to 1820 the tulip market was huge in Netherland. Tulips were being imported and exported at that time period and many people tried to make new colors of tulips to make money. Van den Meer is also involved in a tulip business. In the book, the master draws a portrait of Clara with tulips and there was a purpose of making his business better. For example, “She hears about how hard it is to fund such a commercial venture, and the financial risks that are run, especially by the weavers of Haarlem” (Maguire 99). And in “Aschenputtel”, a tree is considered as natural beauty, which is part of nature and represents providers and prospers. This can be inferred that the natural beauty refers to reaching the societal beauty. Artwork and clothing are both made by human and they are part of the various cultures. In the german story, “Aschenputtel”, cultural beauty is directly represented by the people wear. For example, “They took her pretty clothes away from her, put an old gray bedgown on her, and gave her wooden shoes” (Grimm 1) and “It happened that the father was once going to the fair, and he asked his two step-daughters what he should bring back for them. ‘Beautiful dresses,’ said one, ‘Pearls and jewels,’ said the second (Grimm 1). At the last part of the story, Cinderella wears gold shoes and a silver dress and goes to the ball, By the fact that Cinderella wears these clothes to the royal ball, it is inferred that that set of clothes makes her the prettiest at the ball. And in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, the queen of France is having a ball to find a suitable wife for the prince and Clara goes to the royal ball to save her family. Cornelius van den Meer purchases an opulent golden dress for Clara and borrow white slippers from her stepmother. This can be deduced with Dutch and German cultures both how beauty is defined by clothes.Lastly, the different part of the Dutch culture with the German culture is the beauty of art. In the book, there are many scenes where Schoonmaker draws Iris with the flowers. In page 51, Casper says “Aren’t the flowers beautiful?” and “You’re an apprentice as much as I am, Iris, Don’t look at yourself on the canvas. In this flower drawing, the Schoonmaker drew Iris ugly to emphasize the beauty of the flower and to balance the picture. With this example, the dissimilarity with two cultures is Dutch culture gives away the human beauty to make the artwork more beautiful. This would not happen in German culture because German desires women to be pious and good. In Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and “Aschenputtel” different kinds of beauties are reflected. Two cultures as similarities such as the natural beauties both represent prosper of life which is trying to reach societal beauty and Dutch and German cultures both how beauty is defined by clothes. However, the difference is how Dutch people regards artwork and this will not work in German culture because they want women to be pious and good. With these examples the there are similarities and dissimilarities of the perspective of beauty in two different cultures.

  • Ainur
    2018-10-11 18:49

    This is a retelling of Cinderella. The story itself, telling from the perspective of the ugly stepsister intrigued me. Instead of full of magical or a fairy tale ending, the author told the story in a different way. This story seems real. It sets in Holland during the 17th century. I don’t know what I was expecting when I’m reading this. When I looked at the cover, I thought, okay, maybe in this story Cinderella is the bad guy, maybe she got her prince and being a bitch or something. Maybe I was expecting some pumpkins, fairy god mother, etc. Or at least some tiny bit of magic. But as I reached the middle part of the book, I realised this is not that kind of story. This story potrays real life.The character, Iris, herself is captivated by this magical stuff that she saw things differently. She thought Clara is a changeling. She thought that there was an imp, following them all the way from England. She kind of remind me of Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey, who is obsessed with Gothic thrillers, that she can’t differentiate between fiction and real life. My favorite character is Iris. She’s smart and observant. It would be nice if she listens to the Master, stop judging herself solely on her plain look. Self-mockery is an uglier thing than any human face.I think for one fairy tale retelling, this story gave a very good message, on beauty. How can one actually measure beauty? Is it a curse or a blessing? Iris, in this story kept degrading herself because of her plainness, in complete oblivion of her talent, her cleverness. She can made the Prince talked to her, because she can converse with him in English. She became the apprentice of the Master, because she is an observant. She captured Caspar’s heart because she’s an intelligent person. All this, she cannot see because she kept reminding herself that she is simply plain. This is a good book, but I don’t feel like re-reading it. It was okay, for me.

  • Shaun
    2018-09-28 17:37

    Part fairy tale, part historical fiction, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is Maguire's creative interpretation of "Cinderella". The story takes us to seventeenth-century Holland where a plain and physically-unremarkable Iris, the protagonist, along with her conniving mother and mentally-challenged sister find themselves at the whim of the townsfolk's generosity and eventually at the mercy of their mother's bartering skills. Similar to the original fairy tale, the villains are at times more interesting and better developed than the victims. The character of Margarethe, who does a fine job as the wicked stepmother, is extremely well done as are other supporting characters like that of Master Schoonmaker, a painter who befriends Iris and plays an integral role in her character's development, and Casper, Schoonmaker's apprentice and Iris' love interest.This book is filled with complex metaphor and simile, which occasionally borders on self-indulgence and certainly more than necessary to tell the story, but not necessarily too much for readers who appreciate Maguire's style of writing.Some reviewers claim the book's ending felt inadequate, yet isn't that true of all fairy tales? We never learn what happens to Cinderella and the Prince after they get married other than they lived happily ever after. However, it is understandable that some readers might feel slighted since Maguire's ending is not that simple or even storybook "happy", and the last chapter, in which he attempts to provide a brief summary of the fates of each character, offers very little in terms of detail. Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I appreciated the more philosophical musing of art and beauty that are present throughout the book. I also applaud Maguire for incorporating all the important elements associated with the original tale while completely claiming it as his own.