April 25, 2010
Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon
2009 Three Rivers Press
Quit on 4/10/10
Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings–the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming.
But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica–a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men–and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for. . . .
I'm not sure I would have ever picked this up on my own accord, but since it was a book club selection, I went ahead and gave it a read. Well, 87 of the 273 pages, that is. I loved the opening scenes, describing Lil's job in the bookstore.
I sat down, pulled the book close to me, against my chest. I loved that each book had its own history. I kept a box under the counter filled with the ephemera I'd found in them, the notes and receipts and lists and bookmarks and bits of feather or plastic that people stuck between pages and forgot to pull out again. Once I'd opened a copy of Middlemarch and found a dried sprig of lavender and one pink rose. Another time a love letter had fallen out as I flipped through the pages of Thérèse Raquin. "I can't see anything but your eyes," the lover had begun, and I would wonder who it was, if the lovers even remembered the fever that had passed over them once.
I loved the scribbles in the margins, the notes in the front of the books that told their stories, the way they passed from one person to another. "To Jennifer, Christmas 1921. May these words stay with you." The stray phrases and numbers jotted on the side of a page—"Indian Taj, 74th Street" emerging from the margins of Utopia, "BUY PUMPKINS" blaring up at me from the back cover of To the Lighthouse. As I sat behind the register, carefully erasing the penciled marks, I felt as if each book had a secret to tell, only to me.
Unfortunately, the pacing was uneven and I found my mind wandering as I read further. The transitions between Lil's life as a human and those of her past as a fairy were clumsy and often confusing. I usually try to read all the books chosen for my book club, but decided to ditch this one as the pressure to read the stack of newly acquired ARCs mounted.
Has anyone read and enjoyed this novel? Can you convince me to pick it up again??