So I got this new book in the mail. Nothing better than new books in the mail. A friend of Bookgirl's, an author, sent me a copy of her new book, wondering if I might consider giving it a mention on my blog. A free book with a blog request. I feel very important now. An official, amateur book reviewer. A profession made for me, to be sure. Now if it only paid the bills . . . .
Godmother, by Carolyn Turgeon, is "The Secret Cinderella Story." I've never been a great fan of fairy tales. Happy endings and true love are grand, but they sort of give a girl the wrong idea. Any maiden taken to waiting around for her prince to ride in on his white horse and bring her back to his castle where they live happily ever after is in for some rude awakenings. First, the prince rarely shows up, and when he does, he might be driving a pinto and be in serious need of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, if you know what I mean. You might mistake him for the toad. And often, the one you thought was the prince turns out, in fact, to be the toad. And if you're completely swept off your feet, and your prince is completely perfect in every way, not a hair out of place, loves chick flicks, well you better bail now, because chances are your prince prances the other way.
And lets say that you are one of those unbelievably lucky people who find true love. While your home may be your castle, it's likely a little less grand than an actual castle. And somehow those happily ever after endings never make it too far past the wedding kiss. Happily ever after takes on a whole other meaning after you've gotten everything you've ever dreamed of and you've popped out a couple of ankle biters, suffered through a few years of sleep deprivation, and are wondering what the hell happened to your body and your sanity. Yes, at that point, happily ever after might be in some need of Xanax with a wine chaser to get you through to the next day.
Fairy Tales are overrated. But somehow, they never go away. There is the place inside, where we need to believe, if only for a moment, that we can be Cinderella. We all want to be the most beautiful, most desired, most envied girl at the ball, do we not? Oh, go ahead and deny it. You show me a girl that doesn't, and I'll show you a girl in serious need of a good friend and a makeover. I don't care how much of a tom boy, how independent, gay, how feminist the woman is. We all, at least at some point in our lives, want to be the most fabulous, stylish, amazing person in the room. I mean, who under 50, would want to be Cinderella's Godmother? How many girls watch Cinderella and the oodles of remakes and think, "Gee, wouldn't it be cool to get to send Cinderella to the ball where the prince will fall in love with her?" This is the direction that, Godmother take us. Because what if Cinderella's Godmother was actually young and vibrant and fell in love with the prince herself? What if the story we know actually got it all wrong?
This is only one layer of the story, though. Lil, takes us between her two worlds, the fairy world she was exiled from, and the drudgery of her life as a lonely old woman. Lil, now residing in the aching body of an aging, single woman, still has her wings, the only link remaining to her true self. As the novel progresses, it forces us to question who we are, as we learn the truth about Lil. Is she really a fairy? Or is she just a lonely, crazed old woman? And if it's real for Lil, does it really matter what anyone else believes? Does it make her any less of a Godmother?
The novel, while centering around the fairy tale of Cinderella, is definitely not another happily ever after retelling. Of course, the original Cinderella tale would never have made it by the Disney censors either. Godmother combines the magic, beauty and love of the fairy tale with what is sometimes the monotony, loneliness, and pain of reality. One can never exist without the other. And as is always the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle. There may be no refuting reality, but who wants to live in a world without a little magic?