BN.com Gift Guide

The Stepsister's Tale

( 4 )

Overview

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family—especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather...

See more details below
Hardcover
$13.01
BN.com price
(Save 23%)$16.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (21) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $9.35   
  • Used (13) from $1.99   
The Stepsister's Tale

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - Original)
$9.99
BN.com price
Note: Visit our Teens Store.

Overview

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family—especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate….

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett's stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 05/19/2014
Having reimagined Greek classics in novels like King of Ithaka and Dark of the Moon, Barrett offers a provocative inversion of the tale of Cinderella. Halsey Hall—the once-magnificent home of Lady Margaret Mountjoy and daughters Jane, 15, and Maude, 13—has been falling apart since the girls’ father squandered the family’s money and drank himself to death. With their mother in denial, Jane and Maude have been handling numerous household responsibilities like chopping firewood and tending to animals, making them tan and strong, but not proper ladies to present to society. When Lady Margaret suddenly remarries and presents her daughters with an entitled and haughty new sister, 13-year-old Isabella, conflict is inevitable. Barrett cleverly upends traditional notions of happily ever after—rather than Cinderella’s usual trajectory of rising from the ashes to marry a prince, for Jane, Maude, and their family, salvation comes through hard work, realizing the futility of clinging to a long-dead illusion of nobility, and embracing a “lowered” station in life that truly allows them to live. Ages 14–up. Agent: Lara Perkins, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (July)
From the Publisher
"Cinderella has bad manners, and, presto, Tracy Barrett reinvents the fairy tale-a magical book to devour late at night under the covers, flashlight in hand." -Maria Tatar, Chair, Program of Folklore and Mythology, Harvard
VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Allison Hunter Hill
Sometimes it feels like fairy-tale retellings are a dime a dozen, and this is certainly not the first or the last account of a misunderstood antagonist. But, Barrett’s comparably quiet account of a household of women working to survive together as a family, sometimes in spite of one another, shines with soft, bucolic realism. The only pampered sister in this tale is Ella, the daughter of the wealthy merchant that Jane’s mother marries in a desperate attempt to rehabilitate the family house and name. After Ella’s father dies and leaves the family in even greater debt, the notion of the Montjoy family honor prevents Jane’s mother from acknowledging their situation, leaving Jane to care for her sister, Maude, the farm animals, and spoiled Ella. When Ella catches the eye of the equally spoiled prince, Jane thinks it might just be the perfect match—or is it? This satisfying story of a resilient young woman’s ingenuity and determination to make her patchwork family survive works its own kind of magic. The weighty portrait of the Montjoy’s crumbling country house feels authentic, and the furtive people of the forest add a touch of fairylike charm. Unfortunately, many of the plot complications are simply misunderstanding, which is frustrating for the reader. Overall, this is an enjoyable read. The inclusion of discussion questions in the back makes it a solid choice for book clubs. Reviewer: Allison Hunter Hill; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
07/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—Jane and her younger sister, Maude, are far from the fancy noblewomen of their ancestors. They barter food, churn butter, gather eggs, darn socks, and more to keep some semblance of comfort in their crumbling home. When Isabella becomes their stepsister, it is just one more mouth to feed, and an irritating one at that. Isabella is the apple of her father's eye, but her status changes when he dies from a swift-moving illness. Jane has little sympathy; after all, Isabella cannot be counted on to do any chores and only scorns her new stepsisters. An invitation to the royal ball creates new stakes for the family. The Stepsister's Tale is a pleasant Cinderella adaptation. Barrett's writing shines with an ethereal otherworldliness that enhances the fairy tale origins. She twists many traditional facets of the source material, including the prince, the glass slippers, and the love story. Where the narrative falters is in the long and winding road to resolution. Pages of exposition about Jane's family's hardscrabble life makes for slow reading. Additionally, the inclusion of the supernatural fairy element is weak. Character development is strong and avoids stereotypes, but the sluggish pace prevents gripping engagement with the protagonists. Jane walks a fine line as a heroine, blunt and tough on herself and her sister, but coddling her mother's delusions of nobility. She does garner empathy. For libraries that cannot keep fairy-tale retellings on the shelf.—Sarah Wethern, Douglas County Library, Alexandria, MN
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-05-04
Despite the singular title, this clever and sensitive retelling of "Cinderella" takes the viewpoint of the supposedly evil stepsisters and turns the story inside out.Jane and her sister, Maude, live in serious poverty after the death of their handsome but alcoholic father, who wasted the family fortune. They live in their decaying mansion with their mother, who still insists that ladies do not work, although Jane and Maude toil all day, chopping wood, cooking and gathering food from the woods. When their mother returns from town with a new, supposedly rich husband and stepsister, Isabella, conditions worsen, as Ella refuses to lift a finger. When her father also dies bankrupt, the girl sulks by the cold fireplace, playing with the cinders, leading to a new nickname: Cinder-Ella. A royal hunting party brings the prince; beautiful Ella tells the aristocrats of her evil stepmother and sisters. Smitten, the prince holds a ball—but Ella may not find the fairy-tale ending she hopes for….Barrett tells her story straight, painting a picture of the sisters' poverty that rings true. She includes the major elements of the fairy tale but gives them realistic rather than magical origins, naming Ella's pony Mouse, for instance.Highly imaginative as well as insightful, this outstanding revision has the power to entrance and provoke thought. (Romance. 12-18)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373211210
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/24/2014
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 301,060
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracy Barrett writes both fiction and nonfiction set in the ancient and medieval past, as well as contemporary novels, for middle-grade and young-adult audiences. Her titles include the popular Sherlock Files series, as well as the award-winning Anna of Byzantium, Dark of the Moon (starred review, Kirkus), King of Ithaka (starred review, SLJ), and others. She loves traveling, and speaking to groups of students, teachers, and librarians.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Jane stopped at the gate, which was half-overgrown with shrubs and vines, and put down her basket. She balanced on one foot and scratched her calf with the toes of the other. She could tell that Mamma hadn't come back yet. The house looked dead, just a lot of wood and stone. It was only when Mamma was home that it looked alive.

She sighed and lifted her basket. It was light enough—berries were getting scarce, and the weather was too dry for mushrooms, except in the deepest part of the woods, where she didn't dare to venture. She had found only a handful of sticks suitable for firewood.

The drive curved around to the wide stone steps leading up to the massive front door. Jane took a shortcut across the brown grass, glad that Mamma wasn't there to see her. Only stable boys tread paths, she always scolded. Once, when Jane was particularly tired, she had reminded Mamma that there weren't stable boys at Halsey Hall anymore. Mamma's look of bewildered hurt and betrayal had stabbed like an icicle at Jane's heart, and she never again mentioned the lack of stable boys—or of a proper stable—and never again walked across the grass while Mamma was home.

She climbed the uneven steps and leaned her weight into the door, which opened reluctantly. "Maudie?" she called. She heard scuttling to her left, where the North Parlor and the ballroom lay abandoned. She sighed again. Her sister was no doubt hiding a new treasure—perhaps some small gift from Hugh or his mother, Hannah Herb-Woman, or a brightly colored stone or snakeskin. Jane waited a few minutes and then opened the door, a little too noisily, so that Maude would have a chance to pretend she had merely wandered into the vacant part of the house for no reason.

Jane crossed the North Parlor and looked through the doorway—empty now of its door—into the ballroom. Maude seemed small in that vast space, her footsteps echoing as she crossed the scuffed and dusty floor that Jane dimly remembered gleaming, long ago. Now the grand room was a home for bats and mice, whose smelly nests cluttered the corners. The musician's gallery above them was empty save for a few broken chairs where the black-coated cellists and flutists and trumpeters used to make music that moved dancers' feet around the floor.

Maude's shabby dress, so faded that it was impossible to tell its original color, was too tight on her. Her hair hung in lank strands; one of the reasons Mamma had gone to the city was to buy soap so they could wash more often. By the way her sister was studiously avoiding looking into a dark corner behind her, Jane guessed that this was where she had stashed her treasure.

"Mamma still isn't back," Maude said.

"I know." When Mamma went to the little village down the hill she would return the same evening, but several times a year she made the longer trip to the city to barter cheese and eggs for soap and flour and the other things they couldn't grow or make on their own, and she stayed overnight before returning home. But she had never been away this long before.

Ladies do not farm, Mamma always said when they asked why they couldn't grow wheat and barley. If a lady wishes to have a pretty pastime, keeping chickens and making cheese are suitable. She may tend a flower bed, and she may gather berries and nuts. She may embroider and make lace. She may exchange what she does not need with other gentlewomen who have an excess of what they themselves produce. But that is all. We are ladies, and ladies do not do heavy work.

Yes, Mamma, they always answered, and then they would go out to chop wood or shovel out the stable or do their best to repair the chicken coop. Yes, Mamma, as dutifully and politely as if they really were the ladies that Mamma said they were.

Jane and Maude went through the main hall with its magnificent staircase and into the South Parlor, now not only a parlor but their sitting room, kitchen, and dining room, as well. Jane surveyed the room with satisfaction. As soon as Mamma had left, the sisters fell to work, cleaning and straightening, taking rugs outside to beat dirt from them, pulling and shoving the heavy chairs into the sun to bake out the mildew in their cushions. Now, clean curtains hung over sparkling windows, a small stack of firewood lay on the hearth, finally emptied of ash and cinders, and scraps of cloth covered the worn spots on the chairs that they had carefully positioned over the worst holes and stains in the carpet.

When Mamma came back, she wouldn't say how nice everything looked. She always acted as though invisible servants took care of things and never acknowledged that her own daughters, the last of the Halsey line, blistered their hands and reddened their eyes by firelight to keep things decent.

They had watched her disappear down the long drive that summer day, sitting erect on old Saladin, who'd been loaded down with packs full of cheese and butter. It had been—how long ago? Jane counted on her fingers. Two days to clean the South Parlor, another to muck out the stable, a fourth when Maude hunted herbs while Jane worked on the heap of mending and darning in the work basket, and today. Five days. Jane tried to ignore the wiggle of fear in her belly.

To conceal her worry, she asked, "Did you find any eggs? I'm starving!"

"Four," Maude said. "We can have two each."

"And I found some wood. Let's make supper now, shall we?"

Soon, the water in the little pot hanging over the hearth was boiling, and Maude gently slipped the brown eggs into it.

Jane sat while her sister tended the fire. Once, supper had meant a roasted duck or the leg of a pig, with vegetables and soft bread, and if they had been good, a sweet afterward. But there were no more cooks in the house, and the kitchen, with its fireplace of a size to roast a whole boar and mixing bowls large enough to bathe a baby in, had long been cold. Jane barely remembered how it had looked with servants bustling about, their cheeks red from the fire, their faces shiny with sweat. Rich smells of roasting meats and yeasty breads and bubbling sauces would intoxicate her. Cook would find something sweet for Jane, always with a second helping to carry back up to Maude, who'd been too little to come down the stairs. Now, the heavy iron spoons and spits and ladles rusted under layers of cobwebs, and the bitter smell of old ashes hung in the damp air.

"Janie?" Maude was standing over her, holding out a bowl with two steaming eggs in it.

It didn't take long to eat their meal. Maude licked her bowl but Jane pretended not to see this lapse in manners; her sister had seemed even hungrier than usual lately, ever since she had starting outgrowing her clothes, seemingly overnight. But neither of them had been getting enough to eat for months, and what little they had was monotonously the same. Maybe Mamma would surprise them with bakery-made sweets when she came back, or a ham, or even something exotic, like grapes or oranges.

Jane left Maude to wash up with almost the last of the soap and went to do the evening milking. When she returned, Maude was squatting at the hearth, poking the fire with a long stick. She looked up as her sister came in, her brows drawn together in worry. "When is Mamma coming home, Janie?"

Jane was about to snap, "How should I know?" but she softened when she saw Maude's lower lip trembling. She forced herself to speak carelessly. "Soon. She must have had business in town."

"What business, Janie?"

Rather than answering, Jane said, "It's still light out. Do you want to go on an explore?" Maude leaped to her feet. "Now?"

The last time they had ventured up the stairs, Jane had stepped on a board that split under her foot, and although she had clutched wildly at the banister, she'd crashed heavily to the stone floor. She had lain there, dazed, for a few moments, and when she'd raised her head, Maude was peering at her, her eyes wide. Jane had forced herself to sit up and brush her dress off calmly. She'd said, "The step above it looks good—let's see if you can stretch your legs far enough to reach over the hole." They had made it to the second story safely, and Jane had carefully hidden the purple bruise on her hip and her sore shoulder from Mamma after she'd come home.

This time they arrived upstairs without incident, placing their feet carefully at the edges of the steps and holding tight to the banister. They walked hand in hand down the long corridor. When she was very small, Maude used to shrink from the portraits lining the walls. "It's only Great-Great-Grandmamma Esther," Jane would reassure her, speaking of the painting of the stiff-looking little girl clutching an equally stiff-looking kitten. "They say that her mother was descended from the fairy-folk." Or, "only Great-Grandpapa Edwin," of the strong-jawed young man in evening clothes, holding a book and staring down his long nose at his descendants standing in the dust. "He was the one who had our hunting lodge built."

Jane would recite each room's story to her sister, who always listened in solemn silence. "This was Grandmamma's chamber," Jane would say. "She was very particular about her bed and couldn't sleep without three pillows, stuffed with the down of white geese." Through the dim light they would look respectfully at the bed. They knew that if they touched the pillows, still heaped up as though waiting for Grandmamma, their hands would go through the rotten silk cases and they would find the famous goose down full of bugs.

"Her bed curtains were of the finest damask," Jane would continue. "Damask was the only cloth beautiful enough for her taste and still heavy enough to keep out light and sound." The weight of the heavy, dark red cloth had made most of it pull through the shiny curtain rings—brass, Jane said, although Maude insisted they were gold—and it dangled in uneven loops around the dark, deeply carved bedposts.

Mamma's room, with its delicate furniture and dingy wallpaper that had once been bright with rosebuds, was the best. The girls took turns choosing what to look at first. It might be the cupboard where the ball gowns still hung, holes in most of them, the musty odor making Maude sneeze. Jane had once suggested cutting up one of the dresses and re-piecing it to make a dress for herself or her sister; Mamma had been so shocked at the idea of using a silk gown for everyday use that Jane never mentioned it again. Or they might turn to one of the drawers where the delicate undergarments and stockings and handkerchiefs retained something of their satiny sheen, or the heavy jewelry box on the dresser.

Everything of value had been sold long ago, but the glass beads and rings and brooches that Mamma had worn to costume parties still glittered coldly on black velvet. The girls would take them out reverently, holding them up to their chests or ears or fingers, never daring to put them on, asking each other, "How do I look? Which one suits me best?"

Today it was the turn of Papa's bedchamber. Their bare feet did not tap on the stone floor, the way Mamma's shoes used to, and the boom of Papa's boots was hard to remember. Jane pushed open the oaken door, showing the faded carpet and the broken riding crop that Papa had flung down years ago.

Maude took a step inside, then halted. "Why don't we look at one of the guest rooms instead?"

"It's not their turn. We have to do things the right way. We're Halseys." She imitated Mamma's tone, and Maude snickered, and they entered. Papa had sold almost everything, even his guns and the signet ring he had inherited from his own father. Jane had rarely entered the room in the old days, and even now she found it uncomfortable to venture past the door. What drew their eyes in that dim chamber was the portrait of Mamma as a young woman, above the fireplace. The fresh eagerness of her smile, the energy of her step as if the painter had called out to her to come to him, the way her hand clutched her hat with the long sweep of a feather curving up toward her face—these gave her an interest that was deeper than beauty.

"She was happy," Maude said, as she always did. It was a strange thought.

"She was about to marry the handsomest man in the kingdom."

"And welcome him into the oldest family and the finest house in the kingdom."

They fell silent, each wondering if anybody—much less the handsomest man in the kingdom—would ever want to marry them. Neither thought they looked pretty the way the dainty ladies in the portraits lining the hall, with their pursed lips, pale glossy ringlets, and glowing fair skin, were pretty. They both resembled Mamma, with their dark hair, determined chins, and long hands and feet. But in the portrait, Mamma's hair was smooth and shiny, and her slender fingers elegantly held up the skirt of a gown that gleamed clean and unmended, while their own hair twisted in an unruly fashion around their heads and their work-roughened hands rested on faded dresses that were patched and worn, and that always seemed too small.

Rose had resembled Papa, Mamma said once, surprising them with this rare mention of Jane's twin. Rose had had Papa's big eyes and fine features. But Rose was dead, and baby Robert, too, so Papa's looks had been lost. Lost, along with the gold and jewels and parties whose music and gay laughter Jane vaguely remembered—everything that had gone away when Papa had gone away.

When word came that he had died, poor and alone in a miserable room in an inn, surrounded by empty bottles, they were surprised—not that he was dead, but that he had so recently been alive, because for a long time he had been dead to them.

Maude said that all she remembered of Papa was a large, noisy presence, strong arms that would lift her up and then a scratchy face rubbing against her cheek and neck until she screamed and he laughed and put her down, all accompanied by a strong smell that she later learned was liquor. Jane remembered a deep voice shouting late in the night and their mother crying, and their father disappearing for days at a time, until that last disappearance when he'd never returned at all. They both knew without ever saying it that they must behave well and do everything Mamma said, so that she would not cry again. Or—and the thought was so bitter that Jane tried to push it away—so that she would not leave them like Papa.

Jane led the way back down the corridor, the eyes in the portraits boring holes in her back. She always felt that they would be different on the way back—Great-Grandpapa Edwin would be smiling, or the kitten would have squirmed out of Great-Great-Grandmamma Esther's arms. And as she climbed down the stairs, holding her skirts up with one hand and grasping the rail with the other, she heard the ancestors whispering behind her.

You are a Halsey. You are the last of your line, you and your sis- ter. You have much to live up to. Never disgrace the Halsey name. On and on they whispered as Jane hurried, risking a dangerous tumble, and the voices didn't cease until she stood once more in the South Parlor, surrounded by their own familiar clothes and furniture and cooking things, and Maude made rose hip tea, to help them recover from the climb.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 18, 2014

    MC Jane is one: a coward, two: dumb (I'm sorry, but she is), and

    MC Jane is one: a coward, two: dumb (I'm sorry, but she is), and three: doesn't stand up for herself.  All of my pet peeves, bundled into one annoying person.  All of the characters are flat, two dimensional, and are interchangeable with each other.   




    The insta-love between Will and Jane was ridicules.  Jane states that she hasn't really met any men/boys, so the first guy she meets, she's in love with.  The scene at the fair bugged me the most.  With Jane kissing Will and the noble girls laughing at Jane for kissing him.  Jane denies it and says it was an accident.  If that's not cowardly, I don't know what is.  Thus Jane is a big fat coward (head shaking).




    The scene were Jane is digging a grave for her dead stepfather, probably dropped a star for me.  Because Will comes along and says girls shouldn't dig and what does she do, she shakes her head yes and hands him the shovel.  Girl stand up for yourself!  You do all the work around the house, you can dig a grave by yourself.  If Will wants to help, get a shovel for him and dig together!  What a novel idea.




    The first nine chapters were of the Jane and her sister doing chores,cooking, and whining.  Seriously, that's all they did for NINE whole chapters.  The tenth chapter was set in the middle of winter.  Their fire would go out, so they'd have to go get more wood but because it was winter the wood was wet.  Thus they would have to let it dry before they could use it.  Making them cold.  If they've already lived through a couple winters, why wouldn't they get the wood before the winter sets in?  That way they could keep the fire going and it wouldn't have to go out.  Wouldn't they be smart enough to cut wood before winter?




    I'm not going to say much on Jane's mother or Elle, other then that they deserve to freeze to death.  




    Parts of the book are unclear, like are the people of the woods the Fae?  That was confusing until the end of the book.  FYI, they're not.




    Are the girls thirteen, eighteen (they look eighteen on the cover)?  They all act like six year olds, Maude acts like she's three.  It's so confusing Maude is learning medicine one minute; the next she's talking like a baby.  Complete disconnect there.  




    Maude hides items and the end chapter with her "hidden things" is what really pushed me over the edge.  No argument, Maude is selfish brat.    




    Of course everyone is happy at the end, but the evil prince is still in power and everyone is still starving.  So, the girls accomplished absolutely nothing at all.  All the book managed to do was show that they were a family again.  They could have not existed and it wouldn't have affected world.  In my book, that makes the novel pointless.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 9, 2014

    Perfect balance of family fairy tale and new twists! I received

    Perfect balance of family fairy tale and new twists!

    I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

    My Initial Reaction... 
    I LOVED this retelling of the classic Cinderella story. The Stepsister's Tale was the perfect balance of the familiar and new! A quick, fun read, I gobbled it up in just one day!

    The Characters... 
    What I loved most about The Stepsister's Tale was the characters! The story is told from the point of view of the eldest stepsister, Jane Montjoy, and she's nothing like the stepsister that you've come to expect. Her father abandoned her sister Maude, her mother, and Jane -- drinking away their wealth and then dying leaving them with nothing but an aristocratic name. They live in this big house, with a mother who clings to memories rather than reality and Jane has the task of trying to put food on the table and kindling in the fireplace. She doesn't have the resources or energy to worry about being the lady her mother still thinks her daughters should be. She runs around barefooted and in rags, focused on taking care of what has to be done. You can't help but admire the way she cares for her little sister and, when the time comes, her spoiled new step-sister Isabella. 

    Maude is a sweet little girl and, like her sister, is more focused on survival than being a lady. When her mother comes home with a new father and sister for her, she feels awkward and uncomfortable. The two girls are very close in age and there's some childhood squabbles. And some misunderstandings that get thrown way out of proportion as things tend to when in situations of increased stress. Isabella (called Ella for short... you see where that's going right?) comes off very bratty - she's been spoiled and she's understandably not too happy with her sudden change of living situations. She's come from the city and suddenly she's living in a broken down home where she's expected to do things she doesn't know how to do. I admit to being very frustrated with her attitude at times and at other times really feeling for her - especially when (as you knew would happen because this is Cinderella after all) her father dies. 

    I loved seeing the three girls dealing with situations thrust upon them by their parents and with the struggle to survive with no money and no resources through the harsh winter. They start getting to know neighbors and I loved Jane's interactions with them. It was a really great spin on the story. 

    The Story... 
    In describing the characters, I've pretty much outlined the story for The Stepsister's Tale already - it's your classic Cinderella story, with a really creative adjustment to the characters and their situation. Misunderstandings not mistreatment lead to problems between the Cinderella and her stepsisters. Hardship and the struggle to survive gives the story a whole different life. 

    For me, what made the retelling so great was the way it managed to hold on to so much of what you'd expect in the Cinderella story. And those of you - like me - familiar with the original Grimm won't be disappointed. The Stepsister's Tale has some really great ways of alluding to that original telling of the story, before Disney reshaped it. 

    I also really loved that there's a new romance built into this story - you do have the Cinderella & the Prince story (although that's QUITE a bit different - in pretty great ways that I LOVED), but since we're looking at everything form Jane's point of view, we also get her romance - and it was a fun feeling cheering the ugly, wicked stepsister to her HEA. 

    Concluding Sentiments... 
    If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, I really recommend The Stepsister's Tale. Honestly, I'm not as a big a fan of retellings as some people, but I loved this - so really if you just like a good story about hardship, family, sisterhood, and love, this is a good read too!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 6, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Sixth graders and above will love this quirky re-take on the fam

    Sixth graders and above will love this quirky re-take on the familiar story of Cinderella. Looking beyond the unambiguous version where Cinderella was the good little servant and the stepsisters were malevolent, Barrett wonders what might have happened if all the characters were well-developed. The many details the author uses to explain away Cinderella’s story make this extra delightful and also very funny. It’s the humor which will make many boys enjoy this book. There is a lot in this book about not taking things at face value and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2014

    I loved this story. It was interesting and sweet. Near the end I

    I loved this story. It was interesting and sweet. Near the end I started to cry a bit. I also cried the first time she visited the cabin. Who know if that was reason able but I still loved it. Short easy read that if I was a teacher and had student I would have them read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)