Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

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Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire, Bill Sanderson

Is this new land a place where magics really happen?

From Gregory Maguire, the acclaimed author of Wicked, comes his much-anticipated second novel, a brilliant and provocative retelling of the timeless Cinderella tale.

In the lives of children, pumpkins can turn into coaches, mice and rats into human beings.... When we grow up, we learn that it's far more common for human beings to turn into rats....

We all have heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty . . . and what curses accompanied Cinderella's exquisite looks?

Extreme beauty is an affliction

Set against the rich backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris's path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister.

Clara was the prettiest child, but was her life the prettiest tale?

While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, burning all memories of her past, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household—and the treacherous truth of her former life.

God and Satan snarling at each other like dogs.... Imps and fairy godmotbers trying to undo each other's work. How we try to pin the world between opposite extremes!

Far more than a mere fairy-tale, Confessions of an UglyStepsister is a novel of beauty and betrayal, illusion and understanding, reminding us that deception can be unearthed—and love unveiled—in the most unexpected of places.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060987527
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2000
Edition description: 1 PBK ED
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 163,881
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.96(d)
Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.


Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

June 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Albany, New York


B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990

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Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 321 reviews.
TICNC More than 1 year ago
I struggled with this book in the first couple of chapters and wanted to stop reading it but knew I had paid the money for it. I am SO glad I kept reading. Maguire created a very unique way of retelling an old story with a modern day twist. If you liked "Wicked" I think you will like this one as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really enjoyed this book. i did see that other reviewers thought it dragged on, but i disagree. it was difficult to put down for me. i read it a steady pace and finished it in about a weekend. this book was almost enchanting. when i put it down to go to bed... i still thought of it while lying down. its almost like it haunted my thoughts! this book was beautifully written. it allows you to get to know the characters and decide on your own who you like and dislike. the end almost had sort of a twist which was pleasing to me. i did not feel as though there were any unanswered or untouched topics. i highly reccommend this book to anyone who liked wicked. i actually think i enjoyed it a little more than wicked!
TalieTurner More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books of all time! Maguire's boldness in "re-telling" fairy tales is, simply put, exquisite. Raising two daughters, I have to admit that I get tired of sugar-coated Disney tales, so knowing that I can turn to a darker, grown-up fairy tale world when my gals are in bed makes endless viewings of Cinderella palatable. Let go your old ideas and allow Maguire's words sweep you into a place where princes are not always charming, stepmothers have more driving them than jealousy and beauty is a curse.
ionestjames More than 1 year ago
I have read and seen many different interpretations of the story of Cinderella and her ugly stepsisters. This book, by far, is my favourite of all of them. Nothing can beat the original, but this comes in at a close second. Gregory Maguire is a master at taking beloved children's tales and turning them completely on their heads, making them great reads for adults and teens alike. Set in Haarlem, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, takes a tale of magic and wonder and turns into a story that could have happened. Every aspect of this story seems plausible, from the plague, the tulip crash, and Marie de Medici's reasons for hosting a ball in Haarlem. Even the characters seem more believable. There is no Fairy Godmother, there is no pumpkin carriage and mice turned into horses and coachmen. The magic in this story comes from Iris and Ruth, the two stepsister who try and help their stepsister get out of the house and live her life. I also loved this story because it gave a background on the stepmother and stepsisters that Disney and the Grimm Brothers never provided us. We learn why the "evil" stepmother treated her daughters cruelly, why she married Cinderella's father, and why she didn't want Cinderella to go to the ball. We even get a look at Cinderella's mother, who in most of the tales is already dead. I can guarantee that this story will surprise you and will definitely change your view of the "evil" stepmother and the "ugly" stepsisters. As I continued to read on, I came to like and pity Iris and Ruth and at points I even started to hate Clara (Cinderella). The roles of the characters in this book make for a much more interesting read than any of the other stories. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. It is even safe enough to read to your children before bed. I think Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister has a lot more to teach our children than the original story ever did.
forever_dreamer More than 1 year ago
When I got this book I was honestly expecting a fictional tell all book with one or both of the stepsisters telling us about their life with Cinderella(when they met, after the ball and she marries the prince and everything in-between) without leaving out any juicy details about any arguments or even times when they all got along and etc. Due to the expectations that I had, I was pretty disappointed when I started reading(I really should've stopped and read it for a bit but I was in a hurry!). The story was instead told in third person and was VERY slow, seeming to drone on and on about the person Iris, her mother, and sister stay with for awile and his paintings, Iris learning to paint, and the tulip trade until things picked up in the middle. The ending could've had slower pacing as well. Some of the characters (ex. Iris, Ruth, even Clara when we first meet her) were dull and didn't help with the slow pacing. I don't really even think this story had a specific plot at all at least I didn't get what the plot was. I did like how the author made the story realistic and gave us his own vision of how Cinderella and the stepsisters met and got along. I also liked that we met the stepsisters and Cinderella's (or Cinder girl's parents) I give it three stars just for it being a sort of retelling of the Cinderella story and for it's realistic nature (I also couldn't help but find it sort of interesting at times) but it really just reads like a novel that takes place in the 1600s so unless you are interested in stories about random characters (not fairy tale characters just normal people) that take place in the 1600s and talk about the tulip trade and stuff of that nature, don't pick this up.
PatchyLevi More than 1 year ago
This book absolutely stunned me. I started reading it after reading "Wicked", and "Son of a Witch" and was left wondering why those books made it so heavily into the mainstream while this book, far better in my opinion, remained a bit in the shadows. I am consistently suprised by the development of each character in Maguire's writings. The further I read, the greater I feel for a person, sympathizing with their pain, pleasure, or feeling disgust when a person is genuinely ugly. I have read hundreds upon hundreds of books and Gregory Maguire has become a favorite author without doubt. He pulls the reader into a story where today's problems and situations are but an undertone. The man takes fairy tale to an entirely new and captivating level. I would reccomend this book to anyone who is over the age of 12 or 13, not because of content, but because it may take a reader that old to comprehend the vastness of emotion and complexity of human relations included in the book. Gregory Maguire has gotten me hooked, and I cant wait to read more of his writings. My only disclaimer: if you read one of this artist's books, more will surely follow. Let the cinder girl and her family whisk you away, and before you know it, witches and flying monkeys may be taking you on other journeys as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! Great character and plot development.Riveting from beginning to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually love any story that is a twist on a fairy tale, but this one didn't have a lot of action and was really slow going. I'm glad I finally finished it, but I had week long breaks in between reading sessions because it just didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. Definitely a different take on the classic tale, a bit depressing overall, but an okay read.
Avid_ReaderWP More than 1 year ago
I recommend everything Gregory Maguire has written. In fact, get his books on tape and listen to them while you commute or are on a long road trip. This is the last of what he has written that I read and I was not disappointed. Gregory turns commonly known Fairy Tales and children's stories on their head. In this book, he has retold the Cinderella story but put it in a historical context of Holland during the tulip crisis (a historical fact). He has twisted the common understanding and gives the reader a completely new take on the Cinderella tale! You will either love or hate Maguire's writings. I happen to love them and find myself rereading them because the reader can never capture all the tiny details in only one reading. This is a keeper!
EdnaMole More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed 'Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister' very much. Although it is loosely based on the Cinderella story, it is told from the Ugly Stepsister's point of view (she is not the evil sibling that we have come to despise). Unlike 'Wicked,' this novel did not have any fantasy/un-human characters although you expected one to pop out at any moment (the house imp). I especially enjoyed the infusion of Dutch art into the story and the 'gallery of God's mistakes.' Gregory Maguire's writing style is quite unique yet also easy enough to read. This was a highly enjoyable novel and a surprisingly fast read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!
EDNurseDee More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read for anyone who grew up on the Cinderella fairy tale and wants to know "the rest of the story" - or for anyone who appreciates the fact that there are indeed at least two sides to every story. Gregory Maguire is a great story teller. Once I started reading this I had trouble putting it down. This is the first thing I've read by him, and based on this book, I can't wait to read his other stuff.
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becsan More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I read Wicked first and enjoyed that as well. But this book was easier to read and kept me interested without as much effort. Iris is a fantastic character, very relatable, strong, and flawed. And I was rooting for her the entire book. I loved watching Margarethe turn into the "evil" stepmother and seeing Cinderella from a different point of view. My only complaint was the end was slightly anti-climatic. But overall, was a good book that I would definitely recommend.
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NellyDT More than 1 year ago
not as good as the wicked sires but still very good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maguire has an amazing was or retelling classic stories in a way that they seem to fit seamlessly into the stories that you know and love
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put the book down, so good. Great twist on the classic! Definitely going to read more from the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good spin on a old story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the thought of the other side of the story. This one isn't fantasy, but takes on a very realistic role in cinderella. Well written, and fantasic to read.