Summary: Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings–the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming.
But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica–a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men–and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for. . . . -- Three Rivers Press
I have to admit that the description of the book GODMOTHER: THE SECRET CINDERELLA STORY by Carolyn Turgeon intrigued me. I know books that re-tell fairy tales are popular right now, but I haven't read a lot of them. For some reason, this one really appealed to me probably because the fairy godmother character worked in a bookstore and the book takes place in the present. Whatever the reason, I am so glad that I picked up GODMOTHER -- it was a fabulous book.
This book is a must read if you enjoy fairy tales. The book is a wonderful re-telling of the age-old Cinderella story but it is filled with some twists. Suffice it to say that in GODMOTHER, the Cinderella story that we all know and love isn't the real story. I love how the author created this new version; and while it is drastically different, I love how it still fits with the original story. GODMOTHER is at times funny, dark, touching, and even surprising; but above all, it is just a magical story!
Ms. Turgeon is an amazing writer! Not only did she come up with a new Cinderella story in this novel, but she also made up another storyline that is extremely creative. I love how she told this story by going back and forth between present day when Lil is trying to work a little fairy godmother magic and her past when she was Cinderella's fairy godmother. I absolutely adored how Ms. Turgeon wove these two stories together -- it was seamless. I was drawn into Lil's story from the very start; and I couldn't put the book down until I found out what happened to her.
Lil is a wonderful character and the perfect choice for narrator of this book. There is much more to Lil than I first thought when I started this novel -- she is an extremely complex and interesting character to say the least. After Lil botched her role as the fairy godmother in the Cinderella story, she was forced to live as a human (rather than a beautiful fairy) and deal with her mistakes. Lil, now an older woman working in a used bookstore, receives a few clues that maybe she is being given a second chance. She decides that if she can just make a match between her new friend and her boss, she just might redeem herself and return to the fairy world. My heart went out to Lil because it was obvious that she was living with a great deal of loneliness and guilt. I certainly found myself rooting for her and hoping that she was getting a second chance.
The entire time I read GODMOTHER, I kept thinking that it would make the perfect movie. Stories that re-tell fairy tales with some twists have such a huge audience right now, and this one would most certainly appeal to a lot of people. As I read this novel, I could almost picture the scenes as a movie, especially the ones with Cinderella and the other fairies. So I wasn't surprised when I read that the book has been optioned for film by Random House Films/Focus Features. I really hope this movie gets made because I think it has the potential to be wonderful.
After I read this book and enjoyed it so much, I decided to check out Ms. Turgeon's website and learn a little more about her. I was so excited to see that she's written another book RAIN VILLAGE which I am now dying to read. I also learned that she's a Penn State graduate (like me) and even lives in Central PA (also like me!) I love how she mentions that her New York friends refer to her as a hillbilly now because my DC friends said the same thing when we moved here! If you'd like to learn more about Ms. Turgeon, you can also check out her blog. There is also a great article about the magic of books clubs that she wrote for Reading Group Guides -- you can read it here.
Speaking of book clubs, I think GODMOTHER would be a really fun pick for a future book club meeting. It's a terrific read and there's actually a great deal to talk about. The book contains a reading guide in the back which will help direct your discussion. I would love to hear my friends opinions on the ending of the story, as well as their thoughts on the themes of loss, friendship, redemption, loneliness, and beauty. There are so many issues which a book group could delve into and analyze.
Does GODMOTHER sound like a book that you'd like to read? I just happen to have an extra, autographed copy to share with one lucky reader. To enter the contest, just leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me why you want to read this book. To double or even triple your chances, blog about this contest with a link back to this post and/or tweet about it. The contest will be open until Friday, April 3rd at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will announce the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. or Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!
A big thanks goes out to Alisha from Crown Publishing for sending me this wonderful and enchanting novel!
Also reviewed at:
Melody's Reading Corner
The Written Word