Cinderella — A Love Story is “a fanciful and absorbing rewrite of the classic faerie tale”. It is told here in a fascinating new version, set circa mid-16th century. Younger readers will love the borrowed magic that enables Ella to attend the ball, while older readers — including adults — will connect with the inseparable bond between mother and child; a bond that transcends time and space and even death itself. Ella’s parents are young and in love and the family is happy until Marie suddenly dies. Her father remarries, hoping to give his beloved child a mother’s love and care. But Charles’s new wife is a cruel, unaffectionate woman, who cares only for her own two very backward daughters, and turns her step-daughter into a servant. Ten years later, when the King throws a ball in honour of his son, Ella’s only chance at happiness comes from a most unexpected source.
Cinderella – A Love Story is an elegant and original take on the classic fairytale. Gina Lo Biondo creates a new cast of characters that explore grief, stepfamilies and starting anew.
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Cinderella has long been one of my favorite fairytales, and I was more than thrilled to read Gina Lo Biondo’s re-invented tale. To my delight, Cinderella – A Love Story surpassed my expectations and has become one of my new favorite adaptations of the story.
Lo Biondo’s changes to the classic tale were settle in that they remained true to the original tone, but they provided originality that created a unique retelling. My favorite change that Lo Biondo made was switching out the fairy godmother with the spirit of Cinderella’s deceased mother. While Cinderella’s father is present in the story, he is frequently working and Cinderella becomes prey to her stepmother and stepsisters. Cinderella grieves for her mother, and presenting her mother as her savior in the spirit form is a heartwarming addition. I found the love story between mother and daughter to be the highlight of the novel, and it had me swooning. The family love presented in the novel was a welcome change, and I appreciated Lo Biondo’s vision.
The accompanying full-color illustrations included in the novel are beautifully hand-drawn and well placed to help the reader picture the story and entice younger readers. While the novel is intended for younger readers, I found it extremely enjoyable, and I will happily read it again and again. If you are a fan of Cinderella, I heartily recommend Gina Lo Biondo’s Cinderella – A Love Story.