Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, by Carolyn Turgeon

Carolyn Turgeon’s Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, is an elegantly melancholy retelling of the classic fairytale. The novel focuses on Lil, a desperately unhappy old woman with a secret: she was Cinderella’s fairy godmother, but chose to go to the ball in the girl’s place. Banished from the fairy realm for betraying her charge, Liv is now a lonely New Yorker with a shabby apartment and a job in a bookstore. When she meets Veronica, a friendly young woman with constant guy trouble, Lil thinks she might have a shot at redemption—if she can find Veronica true love, perhaps she can return to her “real” life. But as the story deepens, it becomes increasingly clear that Liv’s past might be more mundane—and horrible—than any fairytale....

Godmother is long on style, but short on sympathetic characters. Liv seems to find being an old woman a fate worse than death*, and Veronica’s quirkiness wears thin. The story is beautifully written, and Turgeon describes her New York settings with a lush, lyrical pen, making an East Village fabric shop seem just as magical as anything in the original Cinderella story. Unfortunately, these strengths aren’t quite enough to overcome the novel’s increasingly depressing twists and turns, which culminate in an ending scene that aims for shocking, but instead just comes as a relief.

*Perfectly in keeping with her character, but (speaking as a young woman who has high hopes of one day becoming a very, very old woman) I found it an unappealing trait.
Posted by: Julianka


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