Friday, June 25, 2010

"Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story" by Carolyn Turgeon

What if Cinderella never made it to the ball? What if her fairy godmother had gone in her place? Would the world still be the same? Or would everything change? This is the premise of "Godmother", an interesting if somewhat ultimately disappointing book by Carolyn Turgeon.

Lillian ("Lil"), an older woman in her 60s,  is employed at Daedulus Books. She loves going to work early and putting the store right, dusting shelves, processing books and checking up on her employer, George, a newly divorced man who spends more time with his books than with people. Lil is a devoted employee, even though she doesn't make much money working for George; she often talks about being hungry and needing to watch her pennies. She's lived in the same apartment for decades, walked the same streets, ate in the same restaurants. And she desperately wants to go home - back to Fairyland. You see, Lil is no ordinary human...

Once upon a time, Lil was a fairy, along with her sister Maybeth and their friends Gladys and Lucibell. She lived a perfect life, flying through the air, popping in on humans, and generally influencing the path of several lives. Then she learns that she has been given the most important assignment ever given to a fairy - she must ensure that Cinderella attends the ball, thus falling in love with the prince and marrying him. Cinderella's mother had some fairy blood in her, and the elders want the tradition to continue. It's a very big job for a young fairy, and Lil immediately starts feeling the pressure. To help her in her quest, she convinces her sister to fly to the palace with her; she wants to see what all the fuss is about regarding the handsome prince. What she doesn't expect is for the prince to fall in love with her - he sees her, something most humans can't do. When she takes on her human form, Cinderella's destiny hangs in the balance, as Lil now wants to be the one dancing with the prince.

Back in the human world, Lil thinks she's found a way to make everything right again. Tired of binding her wings daily, tired of being bound to the earth as well, she's struck by a new customer, Veronica. The girl reminds her so much of Cinderella, she can't help but believe that she's been giving a chance to set things right, thus earning her place back in the world of Fairy. She learns that George has to attend a charity ball and doesn't have a date - perfect! She sets up the two young potential lovers, and all seems to be headed in the right direction. But at the last minute, Lil forgets an important item and has to rush off to the ball. Will she reach Veronica in time? Will she be able to fulfill her own destiny?

Most of the book is great. The chapters tend to jump between present day Lil and Cinderella-time fairy Lillian. You feel Lil's pain of being banished from everything she knew and loved, and you root for her to find her way back. I liked George and Veronica, although I didn't necessarily believe they were "right" for each other. I did believe that they both truly cared about Lil, though. The biggest problem I have with this book is the "twist" at the end. If you're paying attention, and I was, you'll see it coming a mile off; I caught on about half-way through the book. It was interesting to read the reviews on Amazon; most loved the book until the end, then felt they'd been had (one reviewer even went so far as to claim "bait and switch" - a bit harsh IMHO). I can't say that I'm that opposed to the ending, but I do admit that I was disappointed. Guess I was hoping that I would be wrong about the direction things ultimately took.

Overall, not a bad book, but not exactly what I expected.

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