Review: Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story
 TitleGodmother: The Secret Cinderella Story  Author: Carolyn Turgeon
 Publisher: Three Rivers Press  
 Publication Date: 2009 Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Fairies, 

Urban Fantasy

Why Picked:

I read Warren Ellis’ blurb about it and put it on my TBR pile that day.

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. . . . [1]

I love Han Christian Anderson’s fairy tales. So apparently I love a tragic ending.  Never mind Disney’s obsession with the happy ending, I want angst. “The Little Mermaid,” not happily ever after with her prince, but dissolving into foam to become a Daughter of Air and try to do good works and earn her way into heaven. “The Steadfast Tin Soldier?” The Ballerina and The Tin Soldier die in a fire leaving behind a melted tin heart and a spangle. “The Little Match Girl?” Dead in an Alley. And the Grimm tale “The Juniper Tree?” Cannibalism, murder, decapitation; need I say more?

This story, Godmother, has all that tragedy in spades. A story of how Cinderella’s fairy Godmother lets the night of the big ball end horribly with a whammy of an ending. The story addresses themes of the older women wonderfully without being trite or maudlin.  Aging bodies, mortality, righting wrongs, longing for family all find their place here. Turgeon’s intelligent writing style takes this story and makes it compelling read from start to finish.
By the way, Ellis’ recommendation:
“Godmother’s a book of heartbroken magic for anyone who stayed up past midnight and wondered where the fairy tale went.  A beautiful, aching book.”
Yes, indeed.


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