Danielle Teller delves into the world of fairy tales for her delightful fiction debut, All the Ever Afters. Looking through the eyes of the wicked stepmother, Agnes, she retells the story of Cinderella with charm and ingenuity.
Agnes's father sends his 10-year-old daughter off to work as a laundress's apprentice at Aviceford Manor following the death of his wife. Here she learns painful lessons early, but her hard-knocks education fortifies her determination to escape the laundry room and improve her station. Despite this shrewdness, Agnes is naïve and is an easy target for the seductive--and older--messenger, Fernan. When Agnes becomes pregnant and is sent away with Fernan, her life transforms through the love she experiences for her child.
But a poor, low-class woman is vulnerable to many kinds of disasters. For Agnes, death--this time Fernan's--sends her into to servitude once again. She negotiates the acceptance of her two young daughters to the abbey's school, then returns to Aviceford to care for the lord's new baby, Ella.
Intriguing and enchanting, All the Ever Afters reminds the audience of the importance of perspective: the traditionally despised wicked stepmother becomes an ambitious, smart, compassionate woman. Teller artfully slants the well-known fairy tale. Her beguiling characters laugh at the ideas of magic and self-mutilation; her themes emphasize the life rumors can take on when left unchecked. This wonderful mixture leaves the reader with an exquisite story of the complexity of family bonds. --Jen Forbus, freelancer