Book Review – All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

All the ever afters.jpgA luminous reimagining of the classic fairy tale Cinderella, told from the perspective of Agnes, the beautiful girl’s “evil” stepmother

Compelling fiction often obscures the humble truth…

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, a woman who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. But what unfolds is not the princess’s history. The tale Agnes recounts is her own.

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice at Aviceford Manor when she is just ten years old. Alone, friendless, and burdened with a grueling workload, Agnes carves a place for herself in this cold place that is home to Sir Emont Vis-de-Loup, a melancholic and capricious drunkard.

Using her wits and ingenuity, Agnes eventually escapes and makes her way toward a hopeful future, serving as a housemaid for the powerful Abbess Elfilda. But life once again holds unexpected, sometimes heartbreaking twists that lead Agnes back to Aviceford Manor, where she becomes nursemaid to Ella, Emont’s sensitive, otherworldly daughter. Though she cares for Ella, Agnes struggles to love this child, who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, ultimately, the celebrated princess who embodies all our unattainable fantasies.

Familiar yet fresh, tender as well as bittersweet, the story of Agnes and Ella’s relationship reveals that beauty is not always desirable, that love may take on many guises, and that freedom is not always something we can choose.

Danielle Teller’s All the Ever Afters challenges our assumptions and forces us to reevaluate what we think we know. Exploring the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, this lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive novel shows us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound—and ultimately more precious—truth about our lives than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

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My rating: Cyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starNo-Star

This was not exactly what I expected from this book, but I really enjoyed it. It folds historical fiction and with the story of Cinderella. No magic, but still sticking so close to the fairytale that is feels like there is magic.

In many ways I found this really interesting rather than a rave read, but I did really enjoy it. The whole concept is fantastic. I love Agnes’ story – she works so hard for everything and is genuinely trying to do the right thing at all times. She does care for Ella, and isn’t the evil step mother we all know. Similarly, while Ella is like our fairytale favourite, she is not as well. She is a quiet and spoiled child, and easy to upset, but she is still beautiful and kind, she just doesn’t quite know how to put those two sides of her together, or how to be more robust. She loves her step mother and sisters most of the time, and the way the rumours round court spread and turn into the fairytale is fantastic.

I think that was my favourite part – seeing how the rumours suffered from what actually happened. And how neither Agnes or Ella are ever really to blame, they both try their best, but don’t know how to communicate with each other that well.

Agnes’ back story is interesting, heartbreaking and needed, but I liked the end when it becomes Ella’s story too the best.

A really interesting retelling, and definitely different too all the others I’ve read. By taking magic out the story, it actually makes the tale more fascinating.

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Buy All the Ever Afters from Amazon UK.

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