The underlying theme of fairy tales often comes down to good vs. evil. The problem with many traditional fairy tales is that while good and evil are clear-cut in these stories, they are not so clear-cut in real life.
In Cinderella, the good is personified by the title character. The evil is personified by her wicked stepmother. Danielle Teller’s new book, All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother, adds shades of grey to the typical fairy tale good vs. evil narrative.
Cinderella is a newlywed, happy married to her prince charming. But while she settles into newlywed bliss, her stepmother, Agnes, is dealing with rumors that she mistreated her stepdaughter.
While Cinderella or Ella as she is known, grew in aristocratic comfort, Agnes’s early life was much more difficult. The youngest daughter in a peasant family, Agnes had to go to work after the death of her mother. Relying on her intelligence, she will eventually become nursemaid and stepmother to the girl known as Cinderella.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only is it well written, compelling and entertaining, but it adds new literary flavors and textures to the standard Cinderella story.
I recommend it.