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Michael FreemanIn the classic tale of Cinderella, we only get to hear her side of the story. But what about her rivals, those ugly stepsisters, and their proud and haughty mother? Where did they come from? How did they become so wretched? And are there costs as well as consolations for an exceptional beauty such as Cinderella? Maguire's captivating and beautifully written second novel re-envisions the familiar story through the eyes of one of the homely stepsisters, Iris, and suddenly, we see things in a whole new light. The callously ambitious stepmother is also a widow tenaciously trying to provide for her daughters. The plain, simple girls are unhappy victims of a world that values only appearance and refinement in its women. And the unparalleled beauty, Cinderella, is a tragic figure, an object of great desire but of little sympathy or tolerance.
Set in the seventeenth-century Holland of Hals and Rembrandt and sporting a subplot about an aging, iconoclastic painter, Confessions is a rich canvas of colorful characters and fantastic events rendered by an artist attentive to every surface and texture.