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Stepsister
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Stepsister (Paperback)

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Synopsis

'In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters - a maiden, a mother, and a crone - are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life . . .'



Stepsister takes up where Cinderella's tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella's two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn't matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty . . .



Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?

Children'sFiction & true storiesTraditional stories Publisher: Hot Key Books Publication Date: 06/05/2019 ISBN-13: 9781471407970  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Jennifer Donnelly is the author of thirteen novels and a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State and studied English Literature and European History at the University of Rochester. Jennifer's first novel, THE TEA ROSE, is an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century. Her second novel, A GATHERING LIGHT, set against the backdrop of an infamous murder in the Adirondacks of 1906, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book. In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling WATERFIRE saga, an epic series about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil. Jennifer lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter and two rescue dogs. Follow Jennifer at www.jenniferdonnelly.com or on Twitter: @JenWritesBooks

More books by Jennifer Donnelly

Customer Reviews

“Stop burdening the gods. Stop cursing the devil. They will make no path for you. They gave you their dark gifts: reason and will. Now you must make your own way. What's done is done. Whether to you, or by you, and you cannot change it. But what's not done is not done. And there, both hope and hazard lie. Believe that you can make your way. Or don't. Either way you are right. Every war is different, yet each battle is the same. The enemy is only a distraction. The thing you are fighting against, always, is yourself.” Long ago, in a small town in France named St Michel, there lived a beautiful girl and her two ugly stepsisters. We have all heard her story a thousand times, and fallen in love with the lovely downtrodden girl, always kind and hopeful despite all of the terrible things that have happened to her. When she wins her prince and all of her dreams come true, her story finds it's happily-ever-after, but Isabelle, her stepsister's story is only just beginning. She may have chosen to be mean in the past, but how much of what has happened was Chance, and how much was Fate? This story picks up as Cinderella ends. What ever became of the ugly stepsisters and their tyrannical mother? Jennifer Donnelly spins a delightful tale of magic, fear, love, penance and bravery. The characters that were always 2 dimensional are suddenly larger than life, and leave you wondering if we were right to judge them by their covers for all these years. These stepsisters are not truly wicked even from the start – they feel remorse and fear, and every human emotion you might expect if you took a moment to humanise them. This story brings to light the choices they made and the things Fate threw at them which made them the way that they are today. This is one of the best feminist books I think I have read to date. Isabelle turns slowly into a gloriously strong and independent woman, and the story is all about how women can be every bit as fierce as men, and every bit as clever. I loved that there were still brilliant male characters in the story as well, which lends truth to the message instead of becoming anti-man as much as pro-female. I am in love with the replacement Donnelly made for the typical kindly fairy-godmother. Tannaquil the fairy queen is ferocious and earthy and savage, and I think it fits the tone of the story beautifully. Doing what it takes to make your dreams come true is not a clean and easy business, it can take perseverance and questioning what you believe in, and ultimately questioning what it is you really want. The trio of Chance, Fate and Tannaquil was beautiful, I love how they balance each other out, each of them working for what they believe to be the best future. I also adored the role of the mice, which was true to the Disney cartoon we all love. They were sweet and caring, and very very cute. I absolutely love the mix of historical setting and outright fairytale, and the darker tone is mysterious and true to the nature of the original tale. I would definitely recommend this book to fairytale lovers, even ones that don't typically enjoy a retelling or twisted tale. It's good fun, and it doesn't change or ruin the nature of the original story in the least; it is it's own narrative with wonderful characters and some very inspiring messages. One of my favourite things about the prose is the way that the author sometimes speaks directly to the reader - I found those passages to be some of the most interesting and impactful pieces of writing. Ultimately I think that Jennifer Donnelly did a fantastic job with Stepsister, both carefully stewarding the integrity of a classic fairytale we all love, whilst simultaneously creating her own ingenious twists and fairytale elements with a professional hand.

- 21/05/2019
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Let’s start with the cover: Absolutely gorgeous!!! It pulled me in with a combination of the shattered glass slipper and the quote. Moving on to the blurb: definitely informative. Makes the direction of the plot clear which is something I find very important. It’s informative without spoiling the story which is great. I hate a blurb which just regurgitates the 1st paragraph. The first look: it’s definitely a strong start and I’m falling in love with it already. I loved the flowing langauge and authors style of writing. What I loved the most about this however, is that it goes back to the original Grimms Cinderella, gore and all. It’s already set the book apart as most retellings tend to focus on the modern version of the tale. I’ll definitely be picking up a copy since I’m already itching to get my hands in the rest!

- 08/05/2019
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Fist-pumping, funny & feminist look at life after the glass slipper for Cinderella’s ugly sisters..! — Stepsister is Jennifer Donnelly’s smart, subversive and utterly compelling retelling of Cinderella and hijacks the Brothers Grimm version of the fairytale to deliver a powerful and persuasive lesson in female empowerment. This is a story for everyone who has ever been told they don’t quite fit into a world that tries to dictate what a female must and mustn’t be and for anyone who has ever felt like a round peg in a square hole. The Grimm version of Cinderella uses the idea of the ugly stepsisters mutilating their feet in an attempt to fit into the glass slipper and so fulfil their mother’s expectations of marrying well and securing their future livelihoods. Told in the most original way, the story stays true to the darker elements of Grimm and hence there is no fairy-godmother but a fairy queen, Tanaquill, who expects wishes to be earned and uses a symbolic linden tree for the more magical elements. The prologue also introduces the idea of how Fate and Chance alter our lives with two characters, a crone (fate) and a marquis (chance), both battling to take control of the map charting the course of a persons life and if there is one aspect that could possibly confuse younger readers it may well be the concept of Fate and Chance as actual characters fighting in the background as life plays out. — The once upon a time story starts in earnest with the prince and soon to be King of France arriving at the Maison Douleur in the village of Saint-Michel and seeking the owner of a glass slipper left after a beautiful girl fled a masquerade ball held at the palace. Fierce, determined, boisterous and brave, Isabelle, and her brainy theorem loving science and maths whizz sister, Octavia (Tavi), both resort to cutting off their toes in an efforts to secure the prince, but it is their stepsister, Ella, who is the beautiful one destined to slip perfectly into the glass slipper. The wicked stepsisters may have bullied Ella, banished her to the cold attic and forced her to dress in rags but her beauty, kindness, generosity of spirit and patience (as Maman repeatedly tells them), outshines theirs any day... — Reduced to poverty and riddled with jealousy the central protagonist is sixteen-year-old Isabelle left behind as Ella leaves to become Queen. Summoning the fairy queen, Tanaquill, who enabled Ella to attend the masquerade ball, Isabelle tells how her biggest wish is to be pretty. However wishes are never simply granted and in order to be given her wish Tanaquill tells her that she will need to find the three missing pieces of her heart. But what are those pieces...? Charity, kindness, generosity..? Turns out it’s slightly more complicated than that and at first glance it’s not quite clear how the three mysterious gifts the fairy queen gives her are going to help, namely a seed-pod, a walnut shell and a jawbone. With determination, courage and by fighting the voices within who try to stop her achieving the impossible dream, Isabelle begins her quest but with treacherous Volkmar von Bruch and his army plotting to overthrow the King of France, take control of the country coming ever closer to Saint-Michel, it becomes a momentous race against time. But as Isabelle attempts to forge her own path and in doing so take control of her destiny, the characters of Fate and Chance engage in a spirited battle for control of her “map” and Fate places a number of obstacles in her way. — As I never read fantasy or magical realism novels I was concerned that the story would go over my head, however in truth the make-believe magical aspect doesn’t overly intrude on the story and with fairytales by definition inventive I was expecting more than a sprinkling of creativity. Empowering and full of pithy ‘life-lessons’ delivered in a contemporary way the story is about as far away from preachy as possible! There are so many soundbites that resonate and they are conveyed with an undertone of snarky humour keeping the message age-appropriate. I would recommend for mature 9-11 year olds as despite succinct chapters, Stepsister is a lengthy book with a involved plot that demands readers follow it closely in order to appreciate the character development. I might be significantly older than the target audience but I was fist-pumping all the way through a rousing denouement! A powerful story that is all the more appropriate in today’s world where social media increasingly dictates what a person must be in order not to be considered a misfit. — The entire cast and not just Isabelle, but sister Tavi and Maman are well-fleshed and emotionally complex characters, allowing the reader to empathise with their differing predicaments. The secondary characters do more than simply support the plot line, they experience their own emotions and also learn a great deal about themselves. This is not just Isabelle’s tale, it is all those that team up with her and vie for redemption. By exploring where Isabelle’s jealously and loathing of Ella stems from, Donnelly’s story makes her pain visible and enables readers to empathise and appreciate the true emotions she is struggling to express. Turns out there a lot more things that top being pretty...

- 05/05/2019
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