*** I give All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller 3 stars.
I’m really glad I picked this one up from my local library and I’m glad that I finished it. It was definitely worth the read.
What I Liked:
- The author is incredible at setting a scene. Descriptions were not overly long or complicated but with only a few sentences and a couple of key details, you were there in the scene with Agnes.
- It was well researched and rang true – fitting more firmly in the historical fiction genre than fantasy or fairy-tale.
- It is incredibly well-written with lovely imagery, great vocabulary, and characters so true-to-life you can practically smell them. Watching Agnes grow up and shed layer after layer of naiveté – seeing her strength and her self-doubt is a mind-opening experience.
- Also, seeing a potential reality – plausible explanations for the “magic” in the fairy tale was good fun.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The pacing was a little off for me. Some parts of it had me engaged and turning page after page, but other sections moved slowly and I lost interest. It was worth finishing but there were moments when I considered putting it aside.
- Since it is a fairy-tale retelling, the reader already knows where the story is headed. The interest of the thing is in the creativity of the journey. And though Agnes overcame challenge after challenge, it somehow felt as though she was merely surviving the story rather than driving it. I do appreciate that there is a lesson, an art, a feminist statement in that – but it did impede the flow for me.
Would I Recommend and to Whom:
I think it is less of a “villain origin story” than many of those that have become popular in recent years. So if you’re only wanting to know why Cinderella’s evil stepmother was evil, it may not be for you. If you want a story that’s also a study in the oppression of women and the ways in which good gossip can have power over reality, pick this one up. Agnes is worthy of the 373 pages you’ll spend with her.
- “Perhaps unintentionally, Gisla constructed a romantic narrative around my marriage to make the unpalatable more agreeable to her strict sensibilities. The stories we tell ourselves have great power.”
- “Imagine what ideas are locked up in the hearts and minds of women who simply lack the tools to express them.”
Have you read it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!