I’ve never been big of fairy tales, but the description of this novel had me intrigued. “All the Ever Afters” is the story of Princess Cinderella told from the point of view of her stepmother, Agnes.
Agnes has heard all of the rumors….how cruel she apparently was to Elfilda (Ella), that Ella’s step-sisters vied for Prince Henry’s attention, and so much more.
“Compelling fiction often obscures the humble truth.”
Princess Elfilda (Ella) is now the most celebrated woman in the kingdom. Commoners will wait for hours in hopes of catching a glimpse of her face. Any time she changes her hairstyle or tries out a new accessory….every female, even the peasant girls will do what they can to imitate her appearance. Agnes knows more about Princess Elfilda’s history than anyone. But it’s not as much of a fantasy as everyone might believe.
“Nobody is interested in the story of a flesh-and-blood nobleman’s daughter, one who wet her bed, complained of boredom, fought with her kin, and turned up her nose at winter greens just like any mortal child.”
However, Agnes is not going to write the princess’s story, she’s going to write her own.
Agnes was only ten when she was sent to work as a servant at The Manor House, leaving her family behind. She thinks the Manor is beautiful but she doesn’t yet know the evilness that goes on behind closed doors. Agnes yearns for home. All she has is a little clothing and her treasured collection of stones. Although her future is bleak, Agnes is creative and clever and finds ways to make herself indispensable wherever she is sent. She makes her way in a world that is built to keep her down.
“To the abbess, I was a pack-horse, an animal that has value as long as it can work, nothing else”
Then she meets someone who changes the course of her life completely. Agnes feels that she may have finally found a place where she can be happy.
But happiness is never guaranteed to last forever after…
This was an interesting read and the prose was often poetic. I don’t think I will ever look at any fairytale in the same way….especially Cinderella. I liked the short chapters and enjoyed reading Agnes’s journal which was interspersed throughout the novel. We are given insight into both the past and the present. I did have a bit of a hard time in the beginning. There were lots of names and titles to try to keep straight. It was a slow burn but it did pick up and I found it to be quite an entertaining story.
A creative and unique story that gives a deeper perspective on good and evil, complicated relationships, and the many different kinds of love. It also shows that everything is not always what it seems.
I look forward to reading more from this talented author.
I’d like to thank William Morrow for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.