02 December 2006

Gregory Maguire, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.

"Beauty is no end in itself, but if it makes our lives less miserable so that we might be more kind—well, then, let's have beauty, painted on our porcelain, hanging on our walls, ringing through our stories. We are a sorry tribe of beasts. We need all the help we can get." Thus concludes Cinderella's stepsister, reflecting on their story.

Maguire, also the author of Wicked and Son of a Witch, tells this story from the inside. The action follows Iris, younger of two sisters who flee England with their mother under suspicious circumstances. Mother rapidly rises from a painter's housekeeper to wife of a tulip broker in her Dutch hometown, but disaster follows this family and even their most triumphant moments end badly. Sylvia Plath did something similar in her Transformations, reaching inside the psyche of storybook characters to unmask their motivations, but Maguire goes much further by creating a world where it is possible for ordinary stories of ambition, greed and betrayal to become myth within a single lifetime.



Post a Comment

<< Home