GENRE: Fantasy, Retelling, Short Stories, Romance
My Rating: 4/5
I ask to be pardoned by all feminist readers to forgive my liking for this particular fairy tale. Unlike other tales, the female protagonist, Cinderella is not a damsel in distress. She is rather shown as a girl with a lot of patience, endurance, positivism and a heart that is gracious to forgive her stepmother and stepsisters, despite their harsh and brutal treatments. She is not vindictive and is in fact generous enough to offer a home to them with her in the castle.
I received Harma-Mae Smit’s, Prince Charming? Retelling Cinderella, ebook as part of LibraryThing Member Giveaway. First of all, I would like to thank the author for giving me a copy of this delightful book. It is an enchanting and refreshing new look at the popular fairy tale. It is simply sui generis, a retelling that forces you to rethink about the characters and their nature.
All the characters of the original fairytale are in place: Cinderella, Prince Charming, stepmother, stepsisters, King and of most importantly, Fairy Godmother. The characters in the books are Prince Charming: Dmitriv, Cinderella: Vasilisa. We have a slight deviation in the tale in the form of the narrator, who happens to be Dmitriv’s sister, Anastasia. She provides the acumen, observations and the ideals that each character should possess that takes this story forward. Being a royal is not all about power and prestige and looking good. It comes with a responsibility to care for others, to show respect and honor to all people. The author knits together a convincing and persuasive story that traces the original Cinderella story.
Prince Dmitriv, is set up by his father, the King to find a bride for himself after an old woman whom the King had offered shelter on a wintry stormy night suggested it as the only solution. A royal ball is organized for the purpose and as in the original, all maidens are invited. The prince is attracted to Vasilisa. But when the clock chimes 12, she too like Cinderella tries to flee the scene but is caught by Anastasia. Enters the fairy godmother in anger, who lashes out at Dmitriv for being full of himself and for letting the girl flee; at Vasilisa for trying to run from the bright future that was meant for her in the first place. The fairy godmother calls it quits for having to save 53 kingdoms and all with same situations: an egoistic prince is set up with a kind-hearted girl…a royal ball…dance…glass slippers..the whole paraphernalia. But Vasilisa intervenes and sets things right. She speaks up to the fiery fairy godmother and makes her realize her responsibility. Dmitriv and Vasilisa do not drive into the sunset for a happily ever after. But the author has a fascinating ending in-store with a twist.
By including the prince’s sister as the narrator, the reader gets the point of view and perspective of both the prince and the charming Cinderella character (Vasilisa) from outside. The retelling makes a gripping point where readers would think beyond the fairy tale and think of the characters in terms of real life. No one is perfect. One would pause in between reading and think how is it to be a Prince/Princess? What responsibilities weigh upon their heads? Do they have free will or do they follow royal dictates?
Dmitriv is shown as a person without conscience, who has too much fun flirting with all the ladies/princesses who brood over him. It seems to boosts his royal ego and makes him feel important. But does he realize that he is hurting the sentiments and emotions of those girls with his attitude? And Vasilisa? Is she completely like Cinderella, sent to the ball by a fairy godmother to escape the hardships of life? Is she really completely sweet, innocent and incapable of hurting anyone?
This take at the fairy tale comes as an eyeopener. It is thought-provoking and at every step makes you question yourself and ponder to think within. An absolutely fun read with some serious questions about life and society interlaced in the story.
“You forget, dear daughter,” he roared after me, “deadly dull places are best to distract oneself with a love affair! Why else would balls have worked for all these centuries, eh?”
“…markers of status in the endless struggle for prestige.”
” Look, I thought it was alright to let girls break their hearts over me, because when they look at me they only see my money and my power, you know? Like I could use anyone who wanted to use me. ….even if that’s what they want, they still can get hurt, you know?…”
” No one deserves the right to give up on the people around them, just on a whim. You were right before, people should stop being so selfish!”.
“Instead of more people looking out for themselves, we need more people looking out for each other!.”