Release Date: May 22, 2018
Date Read: May 19, 2018 – May 21, 2018
Publisher: William Morrow
First Thoughts: Cinderella was never my favorite fairy tale as a child. I detested her as I thought of her as a brat. To me, she had everything done for her by her animal friends and her Fairy Godmother. Though I did feel bad for her for the suffering that she endured by her Evil Stepmother and Ugly Stepsisters. Now after reading this book and before you go to read this book forget all of that. Because that is not what happens. (Cinderella is a still a brat so I rest my case on that.)
We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?
As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .
A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.
Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”
I am putting a trigger warning on this book for rape and suicide.
I was a bit skeptical about this book as it is the untold story of Cinderella’s Stepmother and she is one of the evilest characters in lore so how can you make her loveable. Oh boy, I was so wrong as you can do it and Teller did it fabulously.
I am really happy that I didn’t bother to read the synopsis because after reading that book and then reading the synopsis, I realized that when reading I spent most of my time worrying for Agnes and then later her children as I knew what was going to happen in the future (Ella becomes a princess, they move into the castle) but I did not know the steps that Agnes took to come into Ella’s life. To me, this made a sort of tension in the book that made me want to just keep reading it.
Agnes was an excellent character as she doubted and fought and that made her seem so human, which is such a stark contrast from her inhumane depictions that we are all so used to. She was crafty in her ways of solving problems, whether that be faster ways of doing laundry or making the manor more profitable. Even though she was given more then her fair share of bad luck she always tried to make the best of the situation. Never turning away from hard work to get things done. And she was not evil at all. Her “abusiveness” was lies that were spread about her and her daughters. Yes, she did punish Ella (as Ella’s father was completely incapable of doing to his poor sweet angel) but it was to teach her responsibility and that the world is not roses and cuddles. Agnes was accustomed to life as a serf and as a woman. She knew what it was like to go hungry, to be turned out of her house, to be talked down to simply because she was a woman. She did not want this for her daughters.
Charlotte and Matilda (Ella’s Stepsisters) also knew these hardships and did not take anything for granted. Charlotte has her father’s dark complexion, which was against the norm of fair skin, which made her a pariah. And Matilda was considered ugly due to her pox marks. The girls did love each other; yes they fought but show me siblings who have not gone at it with each other. Oh, and they could have cared less about the prince. So no, they didn’t try and cut off their toes and heels to fit into the shoes. That is one element that I did really enjoy. The prince just asked who he was dancing with like a sane, normal person. No elaborate searching the kingdom for his missing beauty.
I love retellings and I am really enjoying the recent surge of making the classic Villians into even more lovable characters. Tellers prose moves at a steady pace and is quite enjoyable overall.
Synopsis and Cover Image from GoodReads