Title- All the Ever Afters
Author- Danielle Teller
Genre- unsure. It didn’t have fantasy elements. It wasn’t a fairytale retelling since it wasn’t Cinderella’s story. Maybe historical fiction?
POV- first person, present tense
Trope- misunderstood daughter, wife, servant, step-mother, citizen
Steam level- 1/5 (this is not a romance)
Cover– I bought this book based off the cover and premise but was disappointed.
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.
First chapter- In chapter one we learn of when Agnes (Cinderella’s stepmother) was a young girl who was sent away from her remaining family to work as a laundry girl. The author’s very detailed with her setting descriptions which makes the prose stand out over other novels but also slows the pacing and overall intrigue for me. I’m interested though to hear more of her life story especially what good is at the base of her stereotypically evil demeanor. And how her own daughters came to be.
Best part- readers who like long descriptive details of setting will enjoy the prose
What I would change- more purpose
Prose- above average for setting a scene but there were too many filtering words in narration
Character goals/motivations- there weren’t many for a long time which was problematic
Theme- beauty is more than skin deep, family is more than blood, rumors aren’t always true
Dialogue- below average
Diversity- I’m unsure if Agnes’ love/husband was Black or not, since one of their daughters was referred to by a derogatory name.
Ethics/morals- entitlement of royalty
Thoughts while reading-
At the end of chapter 3 I’m a bit bored. We’re hearing how she’s treated rottenly as a ten year old, reciting lashes & just “surviving” the rudeness but there’s no point so far. She has no goal or drive or wish. Telling someone’s life story is different than showing a reader what the character wants. So far it falls flat with pretty descriptions of the sun.
Page 64 is the first thing of substance
Page 100- I’m just bored. It’s going through a list of events of things she did and where she worked but I don’t care. There’s no pull for any emotional investment. I still don’t have any grasp of what Agnes wants. So nothing really matters.
Page 128- I’m tired of the scene breaks mid-chapter that start with the passing of multiple months. It’s dragging.
Page 132- so she’s pregnant with baby number one as a teen and can’t be with the father. But it isn’t a romance story by any means. It’s also not a fairy-tale retelling so I’m not sure what it is.
Page 172- the bullying and discrimination is important to address and hard to read for her daughters age range. Yet I didn’t expect that was where this story was leading to. Sometimes it feels like every theme or every book comes down to equality at the heart of it.
Page 178 & 180- both of those losses seemed so sudden and out of the blue and also felt very emotionally distant.
Halfway- we’ll one theme has become evident that beauty is more than skin deep and not to judge someone by their appearance.
Page 204- baby Ella is introduced to Agnes, being her wet nurse. Didn’t expect that either. Nice twist.
Page 281- the shift in status changes
Ending- page 373- ties things up in a bow. Overall I was underwhelmed and a little disappointed in this novel. When I catch Myself skimming that’s not a good sign. The journal entries bringing us back to current time were a refreshing break that I enjoyed.