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The Book Experiment

Experiment - n. a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, and the best experiment has to be the discovery of beautiful books!

An Ordinary Cinderella

Cinderella: Faerie Tale Collection - Jenni James
"Ella picked up the last basket of clothing, her arms strained from attempting to carry the heavy, wet mass the twelve or so feet to the drying line."

 

I picked this book because I wanted to read a Cinderella story. This turned out to be a very non-magical fairy-tale retelling of Cinderella. All the aspects that made the original story wonderful are missing here. There is no fairy godmother, no magical transformation, no running away at midnight and leaving behind a glass slipper for the prince to find, and no sense of awe or wonder at the discovery of the identity of the mysterious and beautiful maiden at the ball since everybody already knows who she is. There are several other problems with the plot as well. 


Firstly, the only reason Ella was living as a servant in her own house was because she did not know her father had left everything to her in his will. This is revealed to her later by a servant. Why would the servant keep the secret for so long and let her suffer like that all these years? Did he deliberately wait for her to find a possible suitor first? 

Secondly, the abusive stepmother just allows her to go to the ball without trying to create any obstacles.  In fact, once she sees the Queen's invitation to Ella she just fizzles out of the story.

Also the fact that a ball was held so soon - just two months - after the King's death seems rather inappropriate, especially as it's followed by a wedding right after. Shouldn't the prince have waited at least a few months or even a year mourning for his beloved father?

(show spoiler)



In addition, there are also several typos and errors in the book that should have been edited out such as "He ran his fingers through his hair and rested his knees upon his elbows," or "Her faint worries were for not," or Ella asking "Anthony, were in the world are we?"

 

What I did like - the only thing I actually like - in this particular retelling is the character of Prince Anthony/John. So often in fairy tales we have just the princesses' POV, but one thing that's different in Jenni James' stories is that the princes are given just as much attention and a personality as the princesses. I have also read James' The Frog Prince and found it to be a much better retelling, even better than the original which I never really liked, and this is due to the inclusion of a very 'charming' prince in her version. And for that I'm going to try another of her books in her Faerie Tale Collection.