There are two sides to every story, and this unique take on Cinderella offers an empathetic version of Agnes, the evil stepmother who looms so large in the fairy tale. Agnes recounts her own life of hardship and misfortune long before meeting Ella, and shows how their destructive relationship is rooted in more than just spite. Lushly written and so much more than a simple retelling, this will surely delight fans of Wicked and Uprooted.
In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s "evil" stepmother.
We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?
As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .
A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.
Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of "happily ever after."
About the Author
Danielle Teller received her medical training at McGill University, Brown University, and Yale University. She has held faculty positions at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University. In 2013, Danielle pursued her childhood dream of being a writer. She is the author of one book of nonfiction, Sacred Cows: The Truth About Divorce and Marriage, and has written numerous columns for Quartz. She lives with her husband, Astro Teller, and their four children in Palo Alto, California. All the Ever Afters is her first novel.
“[A] charmed debut [....] Teller pulls off the spellbinding trick of turning an easy-to-hate character into a strong and conscientious female lead.” — Publishers Weekly
“Teller’s reimagined tale. . .stands out among the best. . . . Fairy-tale aficionados will adore Teller’s complex, touching retelling of this classic story of womanhood, perseverance, and familial love, in which she strikes an ideal balance between familiar and fresh.” — Booklist (starred review)
“A fascinating reimagining of the original tale. . . .Readers will feel empathy for Agnes, consider various misunderstandings and think twice before labeling her as wicked.” — Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers
“Teller set aside an established medical career as a pulmonary doctor and researcher five years ago to write full time. Nevertheless, she plays surgeon still, extracting the (formerly) villainous stepmother as protagonist and skillfully excising the classic story’s myths, magic and misconceptions.” — San Jose Mercury News
“As in the best literary inversions (e.g., Gregory Maguire’s Wicked), Teller demonstrates the flaws and fine points of characters on both sides.” — Washington Post
“Teller’s novel is a powerfully written rendition of the Cinderella story… Tells a complex tale of a love that forms through patient nurturing and by just being present.” — Book Club Babble
“Teller woos readers into taking a better, more open-eyed look at a character that’s been maligned for centuries, one with strength and who’s worthy of stunned sympathy.” — Guam Daily Post
Sometimes you’ve only heard one part of the story. Cinderella’s famously maligned stepmother, Agnes, gets to tell her own side in this clever take on the fairy tale.” — New York Post
“A fun, fantastical story with a strong heroine. . . Inspired me and reminded me that how we confront adversity reveals profound truths about who and what we are.” — First for Women