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Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,833 Ratings  ·  449 Reviews
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 fa
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 12, 2009 Trin rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 15, 2010 Bethany rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book was absolutely beautifully written...until maybe the last 10 pages. Despite its cheerful and happy looking cover, the story is dark and somewhat tragic.
Lil is an old woman living in New York City...and she has been living in New York City for a few hundred years. Because of her failure to help Cinderella to go to the ball and as punishment for falling in love with the prince herself, she has been banished from her world of fairies and now has to live her life as a mortal--with wings t
Jun 09, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
I'll admit, I was turned off when I first saw the cover. It was just so tacky. The words were even in glitter and there was this fairy dancing in the corner.
But then I opened the book and I read the words.
I honestly don't know how many times I have cried for this book, but every time I think about the beginning, the ending, all the stuff that happened in between, the waterworks just come and come and come...
This is truly a beautiful book with an amazing story. The protagonist happens to be a b
Mar 31, 2009 Cory rated it really liked it
Beautifully written retelling of Cinderella which includes the fairy godmother's life in modern New York City. The author writes in a way that makes it very easy to feel and see and understand the characters and situations. The ending is a bit weird and confusing, as it calls into question the reliability of the narrator--which isn't to say that I didn't like the ending, as I thought it was quite brilliant.
Apr 24, 2011 Rainbow rated it it was amazing
The Cinderella story told from the fairy godmother's point of view. Carolyn Turgeon's writing is lovely and light, but the story is quite dark. Just got her next book, Mermaid, a Little Mermaid redux.
This is not an easy book to read. This is not simple and straightforward. I'm not even sure in what literary category to place this book.
Is it a fantasy book? Or is it a story about someone who's having a psychotic breakdown?
I don't know. I adored the writing, and the characters. But...
The ending....(sigh) it was dark, and sad, and if you're strong or optimist enough to believe..that you're reading a fantasy work, then the ending was perfect for the main character.
The thing is I'm not that opti
What? What was that? I can't believe I finished this book. I should have abandoned it when it just didn't make sense to me. It kinda got interesting in the middle but then petered out again. I found it overly descriptive, repetitive and confusing. I had previously read Mermaid which was a lovely (and far more concise) book and that was why I tried this one. For me, Godmother, is less fairytale retelling, more crazy lady needs a therapist. Not good.
Jul 07, 2011 Morrigan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-read
Well, I kinda feel cheated by this book.

The story is supposed to be about what really happened the night the fairy Godmother was supposed to get Cinderella ready for the ball. Lillian works at a book store that sells used and collective books. She allegedly has a secret. She is Cinderella's fairy Godmother, a fairy that was banished from the fairy world for falling in love with the prince and going to the ball in Cinderella's place. One day she meets a woman named Veronica and she becomes convi
Apr 26, 2011 Krystle rated it liked it
What an intriguing summary, no? Godmother of Cinderella who’s been banished from the fairy world because she fell in love with the prince instead? How awesome! You know how I love these retellings.

Carolyn Turgeon has beautiful writing. There were some passages where I had to pause for a bit to let her words sink in because they were just that gorgeous. But then other times it felt as if the words were coming out forced, like she was trying too hard to make everything sound ethereal and surreal.
This was much darker than I thought it was going to be.
Review to come. Apparently I never linked up my video review for this one, so:

(click to be taken to it)
Apr 01, 2009 Kalyn rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 03, 2010 Laurel-Rain rated it it was amazing
What would happen if the Fairy Godmother, who was supposed to get Cinderella to the Ball, totally messed up, for selfish reasons, and everything afterward changed the course of history forever?

In this tale, we meet Lil, an elderly woman who works in a bookstore in New York City. She is isolated and lonely, but she dreams about another time, another place, and about love. And every night when she goes home, she unwraps her bandages and unfurls her wings. And wishes that things could be different.
Dec 06, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
More like 3.5 stars. The book has 3 main characters: Lillian (Lil) is an elderly woman who works at a used book store in Manhattan. But Lil has a secret-she is a disgraced fairy who was banished to the human world. She was Cinderella's fairy godmother, but instead of getting Cinderella to the ball, she fell in love with the prince and went in her place.

Lil befriends a young woman, Veronica, when Veronica comes into the bookstore to see if she can sell some books she no longer wants. Veronica is
Mel (Daily Prophecy)
Dec 22, 2011 Mel (Daily Prophecy) rated it it was ok
I loved her book 'Mermaid' so I decided to give this one a try. I was a bit disappointed.


This story tells about an old woman called Lil. She lives in New York and she works at a local bookshop. She works for George, a strange man in my eyes. He's always whining about the fact that he'll never find someone new (he divorced last year), but he doesn't give anyone a chance.

Lil meets Veronica, a bright, young girl and she decides that she and George are destined for eachother (something I di
Barbara Matteson
Aug 23, 2010 Barbara Matteson rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 20, 2011 Jane rated it liked it
I almost feel this book could have been written for me. As a little girl I wanted to be a fairy, not Cinderella who met the handsome Prince. That was probably because I didn't want to be scrubbing kitchen floors - a task I'm not keen on now! No, I definitely wanted to be the wand - holder with the ability to grant wishes. My next admission is my love of books, so working in a bookshop, is my idea of heaven.
I loved this story, so beautifully told. I felt really sorry for Lillian trapped in the wo
Jan 20, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story is Carolyn Turgeon's second novel. Since Godmother's release, Turgeon has published The Next Full Moon and Mermaid, the latter of which is currently in development for a movie by Sony Pictures.

In present-day Manhattan, an old woman with beautiful white hair named Lil divides her time between working in an independent book shop and her lonely apartment. Her friends are few and far between, mainly because Lil has an important secret she can never share with a
Jul 16, 2011 Ariel rated it it was ok
Shelves: fairytale-retold
I picked this up to join in the Once Upon a Time reading challenge held every spring over at Stainless Steel Droppings. I just did not like it. It was so slow, boring, and repetitive. It is a short book and I struggled every day just to get through it. The story goes back and forth in time between modern day New York and 300 years ago in some unnamed kingdom inhabited by fairies. Lil is a fairy who was been sent to live in modern day New York after she screwed up helping Cinderella meet her prin ...more
May 22, 2009 Julia rated it it was amazing
What if the version of Cinderella that has been passed down through the years wasn't quite right? Perhaps the fairy godmother didn't resemble a plump bag of potatoes and was constantly tested by her strong feelings for all things human.

Lil is an old woman now, ekeing out a small life for herself in Manhattan, working at a bookstore, and always thinking of the past--her sister and best friends. At night, she goes home alone to her apartment, sinks into a hot bath and lets her wings unfurl. Lil, y
Aug 05, 2009 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Review published here:

Carolyn Turgeon's Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story is a quirky and offbeat retelling of the classic fairy tale, brought up to date for an adult audience. While preserving the basic, familiar features of the original story, Turgeon introduces readers to an often overlooked and underappreciated part of the story: the fairy godmother. Her interpretation is less Walt Disney than Brothers Grimm, hitting on themes of redemption and f
Really want to give this book like a 2.5, I mean I loved the premise: the untold story of the oft forgotten fairy godmother in the classic Cinderella story but did not find this book did enough for me..I really wanted to like Lil and Veronica and even George however I didnt feel them, their stories and the way the story was told. In flashbacks you learn of the fateful night of the Prince's ball when Cinderella was to go and win the prince and live happily ever after however it didnt go this way ...more
Christina CK
Apr 21, 2009 Christina CK rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
On one level, this is a romance novel about a shy and nerdy bookstore owner and a wild and creative hairdresser who have both experienced losses and are afraid to try again until an elderly woman who works at the bookstore plays matchmaker in an attempt to reconcile a tragedy from her past. On another level, it is a fairy tale retold with a reluctant prince, a modern Cinderella, and a fairy godmother in search of redemption. Is Lil a senile (and perhaps mentally ill) old woman, scarred by a horr ...more
Cameron Mersereau
Jan 20, 2016 Cameron Mersereau rated it really liked it
Shelves: january-2016
I felt like this was a modern interpretation of the darkness behind classic fairy tales. Original shadows that modern society has shown light over, reinvented for the new age. I was able to relate to the characters, both their highs and lows. Very good read. I look forward to reading more by this author.
Jennifer Tatroe
Jun 02, 2009 Jennifer Tatroe rated it it was ok
Shelves: chick-lit, 2009
I felt a little misled by the marketing of this book. It is what is, but everything about its cover design, its flap copy, and even its chick-litty voice screams that it's something different. If you're okay with spoilers, read Trin's review.

I found the juxtaposition of the chick-lit elements with what turned out to be a much more profound and disturbing story to be jarring, at best. It's something that I think could have worked (Marisa de los Santos does a great job of this, for example) but, i
Oct 04, 2012 Alexa rated it liked it
Shelves: fairytale
This could have been my favorite book. I love fractured faitytales and the writing in this book is really delicate and detailed. I loved the world the author created and I really grew to love the protagonist, the disgraced fairy godmother, Lil. Where this book went wrong was the twist ending that was completely unneccesary. The story was strong enough on its own and it is an unfortunate trend in fiction to add a twist for no apparent reason except that they think that they have to. If you want t ...more
Apr 30, 2009 Jessica rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2016 Carri rated it really liked it
I really do not know how to rate this book. I loved it all until the last few pages.
Mar 14, 2016 Jaimie rated it it was ok
***2016 Reading Challenge - a book based on a fairy tale***
I'm really unsure how to review this book... (This review will contain spoilers) The first 90% of the book certainly is a very unique twist on the Cinderella story. The problems I had with this part of the book were: 1) It was really dark - Lil's life as an old woman was truly sad and dismal, and Cinderella's frightening depression was disturbing (although realistic); and 2) The romance between the Prince and Lil was pretty shallow. It w
Aug 27, 2014 Rachel rated it did not like it
This book tells the story of Lil, fairy godmother to Cinderella, who took Cinderella’s place at the ball and was forever banished from fairyland for so doing. I'm surprised it didn't stain my hands lilac, the prose was just that purple (and interwoven with people saying 'It’ll be okay', which was so incongruous it made me weep). (view spoiler) ...more
Nov 20, 2009 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, romance, humour
Lil is the human incarnation of Cinderella's fairy godmother, banished from the fairy world for not getting Cinders to the ball and going herself instead. She's desperate to get back to her former life and thinks she can achieve this by performing the good deed of bringing together two people who are obviously soulmates. Nice story of loss and redemption with a little twist at the end. By the time you've finished reading you're left wondering if Lil was really a fairy godmother or just a senile ...more
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Around the Year i...: Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, by Carolyn Turgeon 5 14 Feb 09, 2016 07:26AM  
All About Fantasy!: Godmother 3 5 Jul 03, 2014 07:09AM  
Ending spoiler. 3 12 May 20, 2013 05:46AM  
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Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels: Rain Village (2006), Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story (2009), Mermaid (2011), which is being developed for film by Sony Pictures, the middle-grade The Next Full Moon (2012), and her latest, The Fairest of Them All (2013). She edits Faerie Magazine and teaches fiction writing at the University of Alaska at Anchorage's Low-Residency MFA program.

More about Carolyn Turgeon...

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“Tous mes anciens amours vont me revenir.'
- All my old loves will be returned to me”
“I'm here!" I said..."I'm read to go home!" As if they couldn't see me. As if I couldn't remember what it had been like, fluttering next to someone's ear and whispering into it. How the whole earth was like a musical instrument that we could play effortlessly.
...I could not fly. My sister was not there. My heart was broken.”
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