We all know the story of Cinderella. Her tale has been part of our culture for an untold number of generations.
Cinderella Is Dead, by Kalynn Bayron, was published back in July. In the fictional kingdom of Mersailles, women are chattel. At the age of sixteen, young girls are required by law to present themselves at the annual ball. If any one of them is unable to find a husband by the time she turns eighteen, her fate is either servitude or disappearing forever.
Sophia Grimmins is sixteen. She would rather marry her girlfriend, Erin, than be forced to say I do to a man she does know or care for. But she also knows what could happen to her parents if she does not attend. At the ball, Erin falls in line with the other girls. But Sophia is having none of it. After she escapes, she finds herself in Cinderella’s mausoleum. Meeting Constance, a direct descendent from one of the step-sisters, the girls hatch a plan to remove the King from the throne. Sophia also learns that the tale of Cinderella that has been drilled into her is missing a few critical pieces of information.
This book is interesting. A sort of The Handmaid’s Tale meets YA/LGBTQ fantasy, it is not our grandmother’s simplistic, Disney-fied version of the story. Which is perfectly fine with me, I am always up for a fractured fairy tale. I love the author’s creativity, the world she created is nuanced and feels closer to our world than the traditional world these narratives take place in.
The problem is initial chapter and the concluding chapters feel rushed. Instead of dropping the big reveal on the reader and letting it soak in, she pushes through it as if it were a minor plot point. Which, to be honest, was a little bit of a letdown because I wanted to feel the climax. But I didn’t.
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.
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.
It’s no secret that many young girls are obsessed with all things pink, sparkly and generally princess-y. The question that many adults and many parents ask, is this obsession nature or nurture?
Journalist and writer Peggy Orenstein answers this question in her 2011 book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. To find the answer she is seeking, Ms. Orenstein not only writes about her own daughter, but about the cues and pressures from well-known companies such as American Girl, Disney and the world of child beauty pageants. She also talks about how the internet comes into play and the images that young girls see in various formats, whether they be in print on-screen or maybe, in their own homes.
What I truly appreciated about this book is how frank Ms. Orenstein is. Parenting is hard, but it is made harder by the very well executed marketing plans of companies that sells children’s toys and the mixed messages our children and our girls in particular are still receiving. But, she concludes, it is possible to counteract the in face-ness of the pink/sparkly/princess-y image that our girls are receiving and raise them to stand on their own two feet and think for themselves.
The story of Cinderella has been told time and again, across the ages and across the world. The reason why it keeps being retold is that the basic elements of the narrative and the characters are easily malleable to any writer who wishes to put his or her own spin on the tale.
In the 2012 television movie, The Making Of A Lady, (loosely based upon the book The Making Of A Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett) Emily Fox Seton (Lydia Wilson) has just lost her job as the assistant of Lady Maria Bayne (Joanna Lumley). Lady Bayne’s widower nephew, Lord James Walderhurst (Linus Roache) proposes marriage to Emily. Emily accepts his proposal. What starts out as marriage of convenience soon turns into something more emotionally substantial.
Then James is called away to India and Emily finds more and more of her time is spent with her husband’s heir and cousin, Captain Alec Osborn (James D’Arcy) and his half Indian, half white wife, Hester (Hasina Haque). Emily beings to suspect of foul play, but are her suspicions correct and can she save not only her life, but the life of the child growing inside of her?
I have not read the book, so this review is strictly based on the television program. Friends of mine have read the book and have advised that the creative team took one too many liberties when re-imagining the novel for the small screen. While it may not be a perfect on-screen rendering of the novel, as a stand alone television adaptation, it could be much worse.
Despite their fantastical qualities, fairy tales can often teach the reader about the basics of life.
In Maid In Manhattan (2002), Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez) is a single mother who works as a maid in a swanky hotel in Manhattan. On a whim, she tries on the clothing of wealthy socialite Caroline Lane (the late Natasha Richardson). Political candidate and eligible bachelor Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) enter’s Caroline’s hotel room thinking that he has met Caroline. Whom he has really met is Marisa. There is a connection between Christopher and Marisa, but it maybe severed when the real Caroline steps forward and Marisa is outed as the maid. Will there be a fairy tale happy ending or are Christopher and Marisa destined to go their separate ways?
I normally do not like fairy tales, especially Cinderella. Most of the time, the characters are cookie cutter and the plot is predictable from a mile away. But, for some reason I like this Cinderella, even with the standard characters and plot. The elements of race, class and money elevate the plot to another level. Is the ending predictable? Of course, it is a fairy tale with the traditional Hollywood happy ending. But it could be a whole lot worse.
Let’s be blunt. Life is hard. Sometimes we get knocked down. The question, is, when we are down, do we stay down or fight to get back on our feet?
In Cinderella Man (2005), Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe), is a boxer knocked down in a one two punch by life. First by injuries and then by The Great Depression. Unable to box for a living, he was forced to go on public relief and like many, fight for what little jobs there were to be had. Then he gets one last chance in the ring. There are many who doubt that this aging, injured boxer can return to his former glory days. But something inside of him keeps pushing him on. Can Jim win this one last battle or is he down for the count?
This movie is really quite excellent. The acting, the story telling and the visuals are spot on. It is also a reminder that despite the crap that life sometimes hands us, we can still get back on our feet.
The average American woman is a size 14. But according to Hollywood, most of the Fashion industry and Madison Avenue, the ideal woman is no bigger than a size 4.
Recently, Kelly Clarkson has received some very public criticism about her weight.
Lily James, star of the newest film adaptation of Cinderella, has received her own fair share of criticism. Some have accused the actress and the filmmakers of perpetuating the idea that only skinny girls can have a happily ever after.
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
If a women puts on a little weight or is naturally curvy, she is told in more ways than one that she need to loose weight. If she is naturally skinny or loses too much weight, there is concern that she has gone too far in the other direction.
The media and Hollywood have been telling us for decades the size of the clothes that you wear dictates your happiness and how your life will turn out.
For once, I would like to hear that every woman, regardless of her size and shape, told that she is beautiful, just as she is.
The people at Lane Bryant have the right idea. If only the rest of the world could catch up.
Cinderella has been done on screen, multiple times. Some adaptations are better than others.
A few weeks ago, Disney released a live action adaption of the beloved and sometimes questionable fairy tale.
Stepping into the shoes (literally and physically) of the most famous fairy tales heroine is Lily James, best known as Lady Rose on Downton Abbey. Cinderella (or Ella before she is cruelly nicknamed) loses her mother at a young age. Her father (Ben Chaplin), a merchant who makes his living by buying products abroad, married again to her stepmother (Cate Blanchett). Her stepmother has two daughters from her previous marriage, Drisella (Sophie McShera, Daisy on Downton Abbey) and Anastasia (Holliday Granger). Soon after Ella’s father leaves, her stepmother reveals her true colors.
When Ella’s father dies en route, Ella officially becomes Cinderella. Finally breaking from the abuse, Ella goes for a ride. She meets Kit (Richard Madden), whom she does not know is the prince. Kit returns to the castle, hiding his own burden. His father, the king (Derek Jacobi) is not well and Kit knows that he must marry not for love, but for duty. Kit convinces his father to invite every young woman in the kingdom to the ball, in hopes that he will meet the young woman he met in the forest.
I enjoyed this movie, surprisingly. James and Madden have solid, if predictable chemistry. What I liked was that the story has been expanded beyond the 2D story that is the 1950 animated film. Neither Cinderella or The Prince have had an easy life. Their struggles make them human and made me, as an audience member, appreciate this fairy tale more than I have.