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All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella's Stepmother

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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, a woman who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. But what unfolds is not the princess's history. The tale Agnes recounts is her own.

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice at Aviceford Manor when she is just ten years old. Alone, friendless, and burdened with a grueling workload, Agnes carves a place for herself in this cold place that is home to Sir Emont Vis-de-Loup, a melancholic and capricious drunkard.

Using her wits and ingenuity, Agnes eventually escapes and makes her way toward a hopeful future, serving as a housemaid for the powerful Abbess Elfilda. But life once again holds unexpected, sometimes heartbreaking twists that lead Agnes back to Aviceford Manor, where she becomes nursemaid to Ella, Emont's sensitive, otherworldly daughter. Though she cares for Ella, Agnes struggles to love this child, who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, ultimately, the celebrated princess who embodies all our unattainable fantasies.

Familiar yet fresh, tender as well as bittersweet, the story of Agnes and Ella's relationship reveals that beauty is not always desirable, that love may take on many guises, and that freedom is not always something we can choose.

Danielle Teller's All the Ever Afters challenges our assumptions and forces us to reevaluate what we think we know. Exploring the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, this lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive novel shows us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound—and ultimately more precious—truth about our lives than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

376 pages, Hardcover

First published May 22, 2018

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About the author

Danielle Teller

5 books183 followers
Danielle Teller (formerly Morse, née Dyck) grew up in Canada, where she and her two brothers were raised by the best parents in the world. As a child, she was a bookworm who dreamed of being a writer, but she chickened out and went to medical school instead. In 1994, she moved temporarily to America, and she has been living temporarily in America ever since.

Danielle attended Queen’s University during her undergraduate years, and she 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, where she investigated the origins of chronic lung disease and taught in the medical intensive care unit.

In 2013, Danielle quit her job to pursue her childhood dream of being a writer. She lives with her husband, Astro Teller, and their four children in Palo Alto, California. She is currently working on her second novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,030 reviews
Profile Image for Deanna .
655 reviews12.4k followers
September 29, 2019
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

3.5 Stars

“We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?”

I’ve never been big of fairy tales, but the description of this novel had me intrigued. “All the Ever Afters” is the story of Princess Cinderella told from the point of view of her stepmother, Agnes.

Agnes has heard all of the rumors….how cruel she apparently was to Elfilda (Ella), that Ella’s step-sisters vied for Prince Henry’s attention, and so much more.

“Compelling fiction often obscures the humble truth.”

Princess Elfilda (Ella) is now the most celebrated woman in the kingdom. Commoners will wait for hours in hopes of catching a glimpse of her face. Any time she changes her hairstyle or tries out a new accessory….every female, even the peasant girls will do what they can to imitate her appearance. Agnes knows more about Princess Elfilda’s history than anyone. But it’s not as much of a fantasy as everyone might believe.

“Nobody is interested in the story of a flesh-and-blood nobleman’s daughter, one who wet her bed, complained of boredom, fought with her kin, and turned up her nose at winter greens just like any mortal child.”

However, Agnes is not going to write the princess’s story, she’s going to write her own.

Agnes was only ten when she was sent to work as a servant at The Manor House, leaving her family behind. She thinks the Manor is beautiful but she doesn’t yet know the evilness that goes on behind closed doors. Agnes yearns for home. All she has is a little clothing and her treasured collection of stones. Although her future is bleak, Agnes is creative and clever and finds ways to make herself indispensable wherever she is sent. She makes her way in a world that is built to keep her down.

“To the abbess, I was a pack-horse, an animal that has value as long as it can work, nothing else”

Then she meets someone who changes the course of her life completely. Agnes feels that she may have finally found a place where she can be happy.

But happiness is never guaranteed to last forever after

This was an interesting read and the prose was often poetic. I don’t think I will ever look at any fairytale in the same way….especially Cinderella. I liked the short chapters and enjoyed reading Agnes’s journal which was interspersed throughout the novel. We are given insight into both the past and the present. I did have a bit of a hard time in the beginning. There were lots of names and titles to try to keep straight. It was a slow burn but it did pick up and I found it to be quite an entertaining story.

A creative and unique story that gives a deeper perspective on good and evil, complicated relationships, and the many different kinds of love. It also shows that everything is not always what it seems.

I look forward to reading more from this talented author.

I'd like to thank William Morrow for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
June 27, 2018
👑 Oh, dear! This is the mind-blowing tale, fairy or not, that I've always wanted to get my hands on.

I've never been one for the Cinderella story. It just never felt absolutely right. So, she becomes the future queen, what's she gonna do next?

This is rehashing the original, in a very expectedly unexpected way. Here goes the purr-fect illustration of the principle: no matter how you raise your kids (step- or otherwise), they will always have what to discuss with their psychoanalyst (or their courtiers!).

PS. Dear cover art, I'm in love with you! I rarely, if ever, judge books by their covers but this one is absolutely gorgeous. I just want to eat it or something!

I sat alone at supper and listened to my heart thunder as I lay awake each night. (c)
… I no longer believe that people are born without virtue. It gets beaten out. Misfortune threshes our souls as a flail threshes wheat, and the lightest parts of ourselves are scattered to the wind. (c)
God had opened a window for me, and I flew forth like an arrow, growing dizzy with my rise. (c)
“You might consider embellishing your story just a trifle for the sake of the listener.”
“I don’t like embellishment. (c)
I imagined that we were a pair of wolves slinking over the dappled grass. (c)
I was a mouse trapped in a corner, looking for a crack to flee through but despairing of finding one. (c)
It bothers me to this day that I did not have the means to repay him for his kindness. (c)
Children’s thoughts incline toward magic and superstition, and mine were no exception. (c)
I was tempted to walk out the door, through the orchards, meadow, and woods, and keep walking all the way home. I was old enough to know, however, that my family could not keep me, and I had nowhere else to go. (c)
Apart from her collections of baubles and kennel of favorite dogs, she appears to have no passions or vices, and when she attends royal functions, her gaze drifts to invisible spectacles that only she can apprehend. Her elusive character is a blank parchment upon which any story may be written, and every girl who dreams of becoming a princess can imagine herself in Princess Elfilda’s famously tiny shoes. (c)
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
697 reviews3,264 followers
June 14, 2018
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Beautiful inside and out; All the Ever Afters is a sorrowful tale woven from lyrical prose, words as lovely and lush as the book's alluring cover. Cinderella's "evil" stepmother, Agnes, tells her side of the story, in which she's born a peasant and must claw her way to a better life. The little cinder girl arrives late in the story, a mere trifle compared to the hardship and heartbreak Agnes endures.

The languid pacing will not appeal to everyone, but Teller compensates with a stunning linguistic style.
Spring breezes caused the snowdrifts to round and slump, wearing them thinner until yellow grass and mud showed through. The longer days tempted me back to the rose garden, where buds were beginning to form. Bright green haloes softened the skeletal angles of branches, and then one day, the trees burst into full leaf. Swallows darted and swooped in the fresh-scrubbed spring air.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,094 reviews1,510 followers
May 14, 2018
All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle Teller is a fantasy retelling. Taking on the idea that every story has different sides readers get to know Cinderella's stepmother from her point of view from childhood until after Cinderella's wedding. I would warn of the sexual content within this one making it for mature readers.

Agnes was born a peasant and while her family found a husband for her sister Agnes was turned over to work as a servant at the age of ten. She spent the next several years working until she met a young man in which she thought she'd fallen in love. With him being above her station though Agnes had little hope of marriage until she fell pregnant with his child.

Over the years Agnes had her children and made a life for herself but it all fell apart for her once again sending her back to working as a servant yet again. It was then Agnes came into Ella's life and eventually married her father becoming her stepmother but things weren't the way for the family that we've all thought.

I'm always a sucker for a great retelling that breaths new life into the classics that we all know and love. All the Ever Afters was not a disappointment at all when it came to twisting the story into something new. As it's said with there being different sides in this one we've known Cinderella's and now we learn Agnes'.

As Agnes goes back in time telling her own story the book reads a lot like historical fiction taking the reader back to a time of Kings, peasants, arranged marriages and all that of the era. There are breaks every few chapters with journal entries updating the current situation as the story spans through the decades of Agnes' life. Looking at things from this angle it would make one wonder what was the truth to the story and did we have it wrong all this time?

I received an advance copy from the publisher via Edelweiss.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,062 reviews615 followers
May 10, 2020

Usually with fairy tale retellings told from the villains POV, the premise is to explain how the villain came to be. That was not the case for this one. This is a more realistic take on the myth of Cinderella, and in stead of explaining the Stepmother's wickedness, it seeks to show that she wasn't even all that wicked after all. Very intriguing and very captivating.

"Compelling fiction often obscures the humble truth."


Realistic: Very often fairy tale retellings retain some sort of magic, but this book did not which I found very refreshing. It was a realistic depiction of the story of Cinderella, no fairy godmothers or enchantments that last until midnight.

Historical: Again, this was out of the ordinary for fairy tale retellings. It was actually a realistic, well-crafted historical novel set in 14th century England. Though I was surprised it wasn't set in France, I really liked to hear references to actual historical figures such as Edward of Woodstock aka The Black Prince.

No redemption: Agnes, the 'wicked stepmother' of this story is not wicked in this book. She is a human being who has been dealt a bad hand but still manages to make the best of it. I really liked that this book did not try to explain why Agnes was 'wicked' as many other redemption stories so. In stead, it sought to show that she wasn't even wicked at all.

Agnes: Anyone who knows me know that I am a sucker for strong-willed, intelligent female characters and Agnes was just such a character. She was not sweet or meek but she was strong, independent and stubborn and I really responded well to that.

"Society has strong opinions about what is beautiful and what is not."

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Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,415 reviews7,430 followers
June 12, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

See my mediocre book pics here

3.5 Stars

“Everyone knows the story about Prince Henry’s hunt for the beautiful girl he met at the ball, how he searched from house to house, asking every unmarried woman in five parishes to try on the glass slippers. That is a pretty tale. As usual, the truth is more mundane.”

Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t want to be like this rather than one of those mealy-mouthed princesses?????

Or even like this (who so happens to be the focus of this particular story)??????

Wait. I think I might already be her. I’m even attempting to adopt a new kitteh who looks kinda like hers rather than the all black which I generally gravitate toward . . . . .

No wonder I wanted to read her story, right?

My picture from the ol’ Instagram this morning shows that I’m kind of a hoarder fan of retellings (I tried to put the Lunar Chronicles in there too, but they were being a-holes and wouldn’t stand up so they got chucked) . . . . .

All the Ever Afters was an absolute must read for me. The story here is of Cinderella’s stepmother . . . .

“I do not set out to write the princess’s history, but my own, the only tale I have the authority to tell . . . . As for fables about good and evil and songs about glass slippers, I shall leave those to the minstrels. They can invent their own tales about Cinderella.”

So, there you have it. This is the life story of the woman who would one day become known simply as a “Wicked Stepmother.” It tells of her childhood where she was born into a family so poor they sent her to become a laundry maid for the nearest royal house - to her pulling a bit of a con in order for a chance to serve the local abbey instead - to falling in love and out of favor with the abbess via an unplanned pregnancy - to learning how to become an alewife - all the way to her return to the royal house. It even explains how her daughters came to be known as the “Ugly Stepsisters.” It is up to the reader to decide if she (and her children) were truly awful, or if Cinderella was simply a coddled brat.
Profile Image for ✨faith✨trust✨pixiedust✨.
386 reviews334 followers
May 19, 2018
I received this ARC from William Morrow on LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

"Being strong does not disqualify you from being beautiful."

Wow this book is amazing!

The Writing

For a debut, this is absolutely astounding! This is one of the most well written books I have ever read! As an example, here's a bunch of quotes I particularly loved:

"Compelling fiction often obscures the humble truth."

I wonder sometimes if the thoughts that flock my nightmares are abandoned memories coming home to roost.

I no longer believe that people are born without virtue. It gets beaten out. Misfortune threshes our souls as a flail threshes wheat, and the lightest parts of ourselves are scattered to the wind.

I was a mouse trapped in a corner, looking for a crack to flee through but dispairing of finding one.

"Imagine what ideas are locked up in the hearts and minds of women who simply lack the tools to express them."

I was a candle that had never known a flame, and now that the flame was lit, I softened and glowed in a way I had not known was possible.

Our fascination with feminine beauty is elemental. It is said that men wish to possess the princess and women wish to be the princess, but I believe that is only part of the truth. We are drawn to extraordinary beauty mindlessly and purposelessly; we flutter on dusty moth wings toward the effulgence with no understanding of why we do it. Perhaps when we see a woman with the aspect of an angel, our souls are tricked into following her, mistaking her for a guide to paradise.
The opposite, of course, is also true.

The stories we tell ourselves have great power.

Because misfortune does not wait idly by until we are prepared for it.

"Rich only matters if he marries you," I said grimly. "Handsome matters not at all."

"You speak of love? Love is a sickness that causes men and women to do stupid things, the sorts of things that leave them sad and broken when the fever passes."

Whew, that's a long list. Well, that's because THIS BOOK IS AMAZING and everyone needs to read it. All the characters were so real and multi-dimensional. The world (though a bit difficult to place the time period at first) was really great, and I loved how religion was mixed in without being preachy.

My only gripe was the fact that it's a Cinderella retelling, and only because I feel like that dragged down the potential of the story. It became predictable (because who doesn't know Cinderella's story?) and I found myself tiring of those parts of the story. The prologue, for instance, was not really necessary and only served to give reason for the journal entries scattered about. Which opening line would you rather have? This:

Suppers at the royal court have become entirely too oppressive.

Or this:

I hardly remember my own mother.

I think you'll all agree with me that the latter is far superior and engaging.

I absolutely loved the theme of motherhood in this. It was so well done and, though I am not a mother, I'm an aunt and my love and adoration for my nephew pales in comparison to Agnes' love for her daughters. And the themes of beauty and love were equally well done.

The Characters

Agnes: She was such an interesting and relatable protagonist. She's so complex and flawed, and she grows so much while staying fundamentally the same.

Fernan: I really found him to be a complex person, especially as Agnes realizes and learns more about him. I was so conflicted as to whether I loved him or hated him, but I never felt indifferent towards him.

Charlotte and Matilda: As someone who has a ton of sisters, they totally got the sister-dynamic down. They also really reminded me (even in appearance, strangely enough--Danielle Teller, have you been watching me??) of my oldest sisters, so reading about them was a huge, super sweet, cavity enducing treat.

Ella: She was really interesting too, and really humanized.

Emont: Man, I feel somewhat similar him as I do Fernan, but honestly, I pity him more anything. He's a pretty pitiful person.

Lady Alba: She gave me some serious Jane Eyre vibes. This whole book gave me Jane Eyre vibes, man.


I love this book so much. It might have even topped 1984 for my favorite book this month and possibly all time. It is amazingly well written, and I went through the whole gamut of emotions reading this. I shed some tears, I laughed and chuckled and giggled like a fool. I love this book and everyone really needs to read it.

Danielle Teller, I applaud you on your fabulous debut. You done good.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,008 reviews2,597 followers
May 22, 2018
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/05/22/...

I’ve never been able to say no to a good fairy tale retelling. They are my absolute weakness, and I’ve been especially tempted as of late by the recent crop of novels touting the point-of-view of the “villain”. It ultimately led me to pick up All the Ever Afters, which boldly bears the tagline describing itself as the untold story of Cinderella’s stepmother, the notoriously cruel and wicked antagonist from the classic fairy tale we all know and love.

However, the author Danielle Teller’s approach to this novel is one that I’ve seldom seen in most fairy tale retellings I’ve read, in that she has completely eschewed all aspects of fantasy and magic, choosing instead to ground her story in history. Opening on the French countryside sometime during the mid-fourteenth or early fifteenth century, the tale introduces readers to Agnes, a young girl born into poverty. Her family could not afford to raise her, so she was sent at the tender age of ten to a nearby lord’s manor to become a laundress’s assistant. Worked to the bone and unfairly treated, Agnes had no choice but to use all her wits and wiles to finagle a better position for herself, eventually managing to escape the manor for a less punishing job at the local abbey.

All goes well for several years until Agnes is seduced by the Abbess’s ward and messenger, and their relationship results in a pregnancy. Ejected from the abbey, our protagonist is set up in a village where she becomes the proprietor of a brewery and alehouse, mostly raising her daughters on her own. But soon, tragedy strikes, and Agnes is forced into a situation where she must work her way up from nothing once more. A twist of fate lands her back in the manor where she worked as a child, but the lord is now married with an infant daughter. And thus, Agnes finds herself hired on to be a nursemaid to little Ella, the awkward but radiantly beautiful girl who will one day marry the handsome prince she meets at a fateful ball.

Now Agnes and her two daughters live at the palace, where she tells her tale in the hopes of showing how accounts of her wickedness have either been greatly exaggerated or are outright lies. In fact, she was a victim of forced labor herself, and All the Ever Afters is her own rags to riches story. It is a heart-wrenching novel about growing up with nothing to your name, of having to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps to make your own success. While there have been times where she had to use her cunning or resort to deception to get what she wants, Agnes is no villain. And if on occasion she was tough on Ella or punished her too harshly as a child, we learn that it is only because Agnes has been independent and hardworking her whole life, and as a result, she cannot bear idleness or watching her stepdaughter grow up helpless and spoiled.

In a way, All the Ever Afters is also the untold story of Cinderella’s stepsisters, called Charlotte and Matilda in this version of the retelling. Like their mother, they aren’t the awful people from the many popular versions of Cinderella either, and they’ve gone through their own share of hard times. Now that I’ve read Teller’s portrayal, I also doubt that I’ll ever think about the “ugly stepsisters” epithet the same way again, not after reading about a mother’s hurt and pain from Agnes’s perspective.

As I said before, this is also a purely non-magical story; there will be no fairy godmothers, pumpkin carriages, or singing animals here (though, I was amused to see, the author had managed to work in a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the popular depiction of Cinderella and her affinity for mice, except in this book, Ella’s friendship with her rat Henrietta is nowhere near as adorable…or hygienic). A lot of fairy tale retellings tend to give the mundane things of the world a fantastical twist, but it seems All the Ever Afters set out to do almost the exact opposite, downplaying the magical elements and addressing all that we know about the Cinderella story with realistic explanations.

I also found it interesting how the novel mirrored many of the original fairy tale’s lessons—that is, to always work hard and never let setbacks or difficult people get you down. However, while the classic version also taught that beauty is esteemed, but that having a good heart is the most important, things are not so idealized in Agnes’s more realistic world. Her stepdaughter Ella—who is naïve, spoiled, and rather soft and vapid—manages to snag a prince and is loved by all in the kingdom for no other reason because she is beautiful. Meanwhile, Charlotte and Matilda, who have endured so much more, will never have anywhere close to the same opportunities simply because they are homely. Agnes’s lesson for her daughters? Life is not fair, but you still do what you must to keep moving forward.

All in all, I enjoyed All the Ever Afters very much. With Cinderella only playing a bit part, this tale truly belongs to her stepmother, who has been given new life by Danielle Teller. In this heartfelt novel, there are no magical spells or fairy godmothers, for Agnes is a woman who relies on nothing but herself to change her life and make a better future for her children. If you prefer fantasy in your fairy tale retellings, you may wish to reconsider this one, but if you don’t mind a narrative that’s more rooted in realism, then I really can’t recommend this highly enough.

Audiobook Comments: I was very impressed by Jane Copland’s narration. From her voice, I imagined Agnes to be a proud, sharp-witted and dignified woman, which is exactly the way her character is written. The audiobook experience brought a whole new level of emotion to the story, which I would not have gotten if I had just read the book. A fantastic listen.
February 28, 2018

When I reached the end and closed this book, I felt fulfilled, and at so many levels. The language captured me first. What a complete command of expressions! A pleasure to watch its secure stroke, its expert unfolding; a painting that becomes sculpture and walks you all around an image, a scene, a character, a plot. An exquisite mastery of the written word that reminds of Umberto Eco. I even found a few words I had to look up, yet so expertly placed in the context that, from the way they fitted, I could surmise their meaning.
In essence, a perfectly honed tool to tell a very good story.
The tale is an old and cherished one, that of Cinderella. But wait, it’s not at all what you would expect. It is the other side of the story, a visit to the dark side of the moon. This doesn’t mean the content is dark, because it is full of hope and love. But it is also steeped in very real human experiences and events. It clearly comes from a writer who has lived a meaningful life and has developed a deep understanding. I will not spoil your pleasure by saying more about the plot. Let me add that the ambient details are carefully researched and deftly described so that you find yourself immersed in a time and place different from your own, yet familiar, because the description makes it so.
Finally, a warning. You won’t be able to put the book down. I started reading it and could not stop even though I wasn’t supposed to strain my eyes after a minor surgery. I read through, fatigued eyes notwithstanding, until I reached the very last word.
Profile Image for Kira.
1,235 reviews132 followers
May 13, 2018
2.5 stars

This wasn't the book for me. The only reason I'm giving it 3 stars is because of the quality of the writing. The story itself bored me to death. I wanted to read this because I love fairy tale retellings. The story of Cinderella's stepmother seemed interesting. I thought I would see her in a different light and understand why she became the evil stepmother. Somehow her story never made me sympathetic to her plight. A fair amount of the bad things that happened to her were the result of bad decisions she made. In the end I understood her but didn't care.

Despite being a fairy tale retelling, it was a realistic historical fiction. It was only loosely based on Cinderella. That part only tied in towards the end. Most of the book was focused on her work. There was not much action or dialogue. A lot of time was spent describing things. I think some people will really like this book. This style and genre are not ones I care for.

I received this from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
967 reviews497 followers
September 20, 2018
This is honestly between 2 and 3 stars for me. It was just so bland. And boring. And predictable.
Agnes is Ella’s stepmother. She endures a hard childhood being separated from her family, but manages to secure herself a decent life with some form of independence through her hard work and intelligence. I can respect the character of Agnes - she is very honest when reflecting upon her life but the narration was just so full.
Ella annoyed the hell out of me in this book. She was just a whiny spoiled brat who thought meant to be simple was way more manipulatively described than is meant to be insinuated.
I loved the stepsisters - Matilda and Charlotte. I would want them as my friends any day.
Profile Image for Ellie.
573 reviews2,085 followers
June 25, 2018
4.5 stars! RTC

A really impressive historically-grounded novel that really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it; I loved the presentation of gender and social roles. I also love Agnes, my clever Slytherin child.
Profile Image for Astro Teller.
Author 6 books23 followers
May 23, 2018
THIS BOOK IS NOT (strictly speaking) FANTASY.

All the Ever Afters is a thoughtful reimagining of the characters from Cinderella as real people in a real medieval setting. The plot has a nested structure, with the familiar details of the fairy tale embedded in the longer rags-to-riches arc of the stepmother's narrative. The book can be enjoyed on many levels; even the insightful stepmother is not always fully aware of the layers of psychological complexity that underlie her words.

That's my public service message. I won't go on to rave about the book's many wonderful qualities, because I am the husband of the author, and my opinion will be discounted. I'll just say that as an avid consumer of fantasy novels, I wouldn't let the absence of magic wands discourage you from checking out this unique and thought-provoking read.
Profile Image for cerys.
182 reviews335 followers
May 25, 2018
DNF at around halfway

The main problem with this one is that there wasn't any point to it? In most books there is a point and something the main character wants to achieve, but in this one there was nothing. It was just the background of Cinderella's step mother, but nothing that this child goes through relates to the step mother? It could be any random child. BUT I see why some people would like this, but it's just not for me.

I'm being strict with my reading this year, one of the rules I've made for myself is that if I get to pg 100 and I'm not enjoying the book, then I'm not going to finish it. I don't have enough spare time to waste it on books I'm not enjoying.
Profile Image for Pine tree leaf stick.
182 reviews303 followers
January 27, 2022
Why did I give this two stars when I rated it???
Anyways it doesn’t deserve two.
One star it is.

Did not finish.
I did not like this book at all. I don’t think that I even read 100 pages. It was not moving anywhere and there was too much talk about religion which started getting on my nerves. Ultimately, that was what made me stop reading this book. It was just not going anywhere.
Profile Image for Sara Saif.
543 reviews220 followers
August 1, 2018

A soulful, gut-wrenching, dark and disturbing retelling of Cinderella. It reminded me of Fairest by Marissa Meyer, another step-mother origin story. Like Fairest it was morbid and oft times sickening but I was entranced and couldn’t stop. Unlike Fairest, it was more real, mature and grounded and thus hit much harder due to the absence of fantasy or sci-fi elements.

The book proceeds with agonizing slowness, painstakingly describing each and every detail of the stepmother, Agnes’s life. The Cinderella part doesn’t begin until the last quarter of the book. I understand that this was about Agnes and what kind of a life she lived before she came to be Ella’s step mother so each and every aspect of her life was dissected and described in fullest, but, I will say that there is much in the first half that could have been shortened. It’s the type of book that if you don’t get invested in real quick, is a chore to finish.

The book is bursting with sadness and struggle and lead by a strong, admirable woman, the step-mother, who is lovable to her core. Cinderella on the other hand possesses more vices than virtues and is tolerable at best and detestable at worst.

The prose is absolutely beautiful and apart from the incredible characterization is the thing that makes this book so worth your time and investment. It’s definitely one of the most meticulous and exquisitely crafted books I have had the pleasure to read.
Profile Image for Darque  Dreamer .
360 reviews47 followers
March 9, 2018
All the Ever Afters is realistically refreshing! It is captivating and emotional. With a unique twist on a classic faerie tale villain, this one is sure to impress!

When I saw the synopsis for this one, I was immediately drawn in. Heartless by Marissa Meyer went to my mind, and I was expecting a whimsical tale about why Cinderella's stepmother was evil. What I got was a more realistic story about Agnes and her upbringing, and a twist on Cinderella's character.

This one read like a historical fiction novel. There was no magic, no faerie god mother. It had logical explanations for the unexplainable aspects of past Cinderella tales.

It was an emotionally trying road for Agnes. I enjoyed learning about her background and her struggles. The story had more of a slow pace to it, but it was well developed in terms of showing us the difficult journey Agnes faced on her way to becoming Cinderella's stepmother. 

I enjoyed the twist of character personalities. The stepsisters were the ones who were teased and ridiculed, due to prejudice, and Agnes was the one forced in to hard manual labor for most of her life. Cinderella was actually more on the spoiled brat side and never really had to work for anything.

The story had a bit more sexual content than I had expected. It wasn't very graphic in nature, but certainly was not anticipated. The story also highlighted issues of rape and abuse from the time period that the tale would have originally taken place in, so it was interesting to have the realism thrown in to the story. It gave dimension to the struggle of women, in general, instead of making everything seem fanciful and alluring.

The story had a Grimm's feel to it. It seemed to teach some moral lessons while highlighting the ugliness of the period, and of human nature. It was a refreshing take on an "untold story" that had several unpredictable twists. So, it wasn't really a "faerie tale," but it was a unique twist on a classic faerie tale that provoked some deep thoughts about true villains and the ugliness of humanity through history. I'd rate this one 3.5 stars.

Thank you to the Edelweiss and William Morrow (Harper Collins) for providing me with this free e-copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
1,139 reviews598 followers
March 27, 2018
DNF @ 12%

I don't think this a bad book at all, but it's everything I personally don't like in fantasy.

- kingdom and court politics
- formal language
- marriage plots
- infodumping of world / character backstory

Not for me, unfortunately, but I wouldn't deter any fantasy fans.
Profile Image for Under the Covers Book Blog.
2,818 reviews1,365 followers
June 4, 2018

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I don’t usually seek out fairytale retellings, but All the Ever Afters attracted me for two reasons:

The cover. I admit I judge by a cover far too frequently, but this one is particularly gorgeous.
It was told from the evil stepmother’s point of view. Although we have books that retell a tale from a different point of view, I was intrigued by it being told by the heavily maligned evil stepmother.
Now that I have finished All the Ever Afters I am pleased that I picked it up. It told the Cinderella story in the style of historical fiction set in a medieval time period. Grounding this magical tale in a semblance of reality gave a completely different perspective on all the familiar characters, from the “evil” stepmother, “ugly” stepsisters to Cinderella herself.

Agnes’ character completely captivated me in this book. We watch as Agnes grows into a pragmatic and ambitious woman, with times of heartbreak (I shed more than a few tears) and times of joy. Teller paints a very clear picture of a woman, who although isn’t perfect has done the best with her limited circumstances. I especially enjoyed Agnes short journal entries that regularly intersperse the book.

I can’t state enough how much I loved this book, it was written very eloquently and had a very compelling story. I couldn’t put it down. Teller framing this retelling as if it was historical fiction was a brilliant decision. It brought the whole story to life in a way that telling it as a magical fantasy with pumpkins turning into carriages wouldn’t have.

I highly recommend give All the Ever Afters a try. It’s a beautifully written book which will have you completely rethinking the Cinderella story.

*ARC provided by publisher
Reviewed by Suzanne❤ ♡ Don't want to miss any of our posts? Subscribe to our blog by email! ♡ ❤
Profile Image for Patty Smith.
211 reviews71 followers
May 28, 2018
Thank you to Edelweiss, William Morrow and Danielle Teller for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating 3.5 stars

There are always two sides to every story and “All The Ever Afters” wants you to hear Cinderella’s evil stepmother’s perspective. Was she always evil? If not, what could have made her that way? Time to hear the tale that leads from Agnes Vil-de-Loup’s early life until her happily ever after.

We are first introduced to young Agnes at the age of nine when she is sent off to work in the laundry. Even from a young age, we can see that Agnes keeps a sharp eye out for any opportunity to improve her situation. While at the manor she is given the task of cleaning up the master, as he is nothing more than a drunken slob. She manages to make an impression on Sir Emont. How fortuitous that after her first husband dies, she manages to come under his care again and become a nurse to his young daughter. How fortuitous a second time that after his wife dies, Agnes has made herself so indispensable that he cannot do without her and is cajoled into marrying her.

From laundry girl to owning an alehouse to marrying a highborn, Agnes had a knack for improving every situation she found herself in. True, she was hard working and cannot be blamed for trying to elevate her station in life. At this time, being a female meant that you had no agency and she was often at the mercy of men or those above her. Several times she was stripped of everything she had worked for and had to find the strength to get back up again and make a better life for herself and her daughters. But don’t be fooled, she has a mean streak. If you come for what’s hers, be sure that she will take vengeance.

I really enjoyed the first part of this novel. The premise that the tale of Cinderella that you have heard all these years is simply gossip, with facts exaggerated and embellished upon each telling, is delicious food for thought. Was Ella simply a spoiled brat? I love turning things on their head and examining it through a different lens. What if Charlotte, just by having darker skin, was not ugly but simply a victim of racism. There isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t understand being held to an unattainable standard of beauty. If Matilda was scarred, would she not seem ugly and scary to some children. And really, is anyone sawing off toes to fit into shoes?

Danielle Teller had me for most of this journey, but there was a noticeable lag halfway through the novel. Although beautifully written, with descriptive and detailed language, somehow the emotion and investment in the characters was lost. I found myself flipping through each page, not eagerly, but rather just to get to the end. I noticed that I wasn’t rooting for Agnes anymore and found the tone changed. I wasn’t buying into Agnes’ perspective. It made me feel like I was reading someone’s journal who wrote it with the idea in mind that someone was going to read it and they wanted to be shown in the best light possible. It made me shift back to believing that the original story of Cinderella was probably true.

I will finish off with a warning that there were some scenes that had mature sexual content. They were in no way offensive and very appropriate to the story, but I was thinking that I would use this in my classroom. I do a fairy tale unit and often do it in a way that challenges the way we think and encourages the students to explore different perspectives from the various characters in the tales. So I only mention it because in my school, it wouldn’t be appropriate. That being said, there are parts that I would love to use as a jumping off point, I’m just not sure how to do it without referencing the text.

Overall, I found this book enjoyable. It was original in thought and made you think outside the box. Rather than relying on magic and fairy godmothers, you are presented with a story of a real woman who has lived a full, if not trying life and came out the other side. Teller has a gift with words, her writing is beautiful. She subtlety and thoughtfully comments on important issues like class, racism, feminism and others. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Does Agnes get her happily ever after? Well, you will just have to read the book to find out!
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,217 reviews550 followers
May 31, 2018
Oh did I enjoy this read! Having it come between so many modern ambitious, word sodden, and often times pretentious reads, both fiction and non-fiction, how very refreshing.

Yes, there is sickness, poverty of material and experience, often ignorant or narrow minded characters, and some sex or marriage ploys of those medieval times. But overall it is rather triumphant. It's the fairy tale told in a non-fairy tale way. And I loved it.

Two reasons come to mind that made it outstanding in the present fiction market. For me, it was that one narrator and her "eyes" reigned from page 1 to the ending. And the other was that the tale was told in clear, abundant to prose forms and yet distinct and descriptive English within a clearly chronological form. We know Ella is the Queen but it is told entirely through Agnes life's tale eyes.

And if that isn't asking enough of my own wishes to be fulfilled in those forms so appreciated- she also has a base inspirational tone (what a aberration of 2018!). And in majority holds it throughout adversity and beyond the sadness for the realities of those era's "now". Like pox, and consumption, seasonal starving, long periods of loved one separations and the often switch usage habits of servitude.

Is it revisionist? Yes, a bit. But also entirely encapsulated by the excellent personality and characterizations of our prime principle 4 or 5 characters. All the ones we thought we "knew".

Danielle Teller, I most probably will be reading you again.

This is the period of the custom house breweries in every state I visit (USA -2018 and they have even opened up one 2 blocks from me in a corporate headquarters block). Reading these processes and methods for the ale, it sure seems a whole lot harder than making wine. For all the books with alehouses and inns being the prime centers of locale within the English "book"- for any age in the last 1000 or more years? I don't think I read as many particulars about grinding the malts, hops etc. or the learning process to develop it. Or for which servants, millers etc. are used to help in the procedures either. Good job!
Profile Image for Natalie.
1,620 reviews21 followers
June 30, 2018
This is not really a retelling of Cinderella from the stepmother's perspective or a new spin on a classic fairy tale. This is a carefully done examination of gender and class in the Middle Ages (certainly a commendable purpose) with Cinderella as a framework that somehow manages to sap any bit of tension or excitement from the story.

At first, I felt like a two-star rating was too harsh for this book. It does do a good job of reconstructing medieval England and of showing one woman's struggles in a society that devalues her for both her birth and gender. But it's not particularly interesting either. The characters are flat, the story never takes any compelling turns, there's none of the magic or mystery or thrill that I was hoping for. Dramatic things happen and their impact doesn't land in any meaningful way, perhaps because Agnes' characterization could be summed up in a few words. By the end, I was skimming just to be done with it.
Profile Image for Denise.
533 reviews
January 13, 2019
3.5 Sterne

"All The Ever Afters - The Untold Story of Cinderella's Stepmother" war ein absoluter Coverkauf 😅 und nachdem ich Retellings liebe, musste ich es natürlich auch lesen 😅.

In diesem Buch geht es um Cinderella's Stiefmutter Agnes und ihre Lebensgeschichte. Wir erfahren viel über ihre Herkunft, ihren Werdegang, die harte Arbeit und die vielen Rückschläge. Sie hatte es in ihrem Leben wirklich nicht leicht und hat sich immer weiter durchgekämpft. Sie ist zwar keine sympathische Protagonistin, aber ihre Stärke kann man nur bewundern!

Zwischendurch gibt es immer wieder Tagebucheinträge von Agnes - aus der Gegenwart - nachdem Cinderella geheiratet hat. Eigentlich haben mich am Anfang nur diese Stellen daran erinnert, das es sich um eine Art Retelling handelt, denn dieses Buch kommt komplett ohne Magie aus... Es gibt keine gute Fee, keine sprechenden Mäuse und auch keine Kutsche, die eigentlich ein verzauberter Kürbis ist 😉. Dadurch wirkt die Geschichte bodenständig, realistisch und überhaupt nicht märchenhaft 😅 .

Der Schreibstil ist relativ einfach gehalten 🤔, aber das hat mich bei dieser Geschichte nicht weiter gestört.
Allerdings konnte die Handlung mich nicht so ganz packen... Es war zwar durchaus ein interessantes Buch, aber das gewisse Etwas hat mir leider gefehlt 🤔.
Profile Image for Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog).
1,732 reviews534 followers
June 6, 2018
I don’t usually seek out fairytale retellings, but All the Ever Afters attracted me for two reasons:

1. The cover. I admit I judge by a cover far too frequently, but this one is particularly gorgeous.
It was told from the evil stepmother’s point of view. Although we have books that retell a tale from a different point of view, I was intrigued by it being told by the heavily maligned evil stepmother.
Now that I have finished All the Ever Afters I am pleased that I picked it up. It told the Cinderella story in the style of historical fiction set in a medieval time period. Grounding this magical tale in a semblance of reality gave a completely different perspective on all the familiar characters, from the “evil” stepmother, “ugly” stepsisters to Cinderella herself.

2. Agnes’ character completely captivated me in this book. We watch as Agnes grows into a pragmatic and ambitious woman, with times of heartbreak (I shed more than a few tears) and times of joy. Teller paints a very clear picture of a woman, who although isn’t perfect has done the best with her limited circumstances. I especially enjoyed Agnes short journal entries that regularly intersperse the book.

I can’t state enough how much I loved this book, it was written very eloquently and had a very compelling story. I couldn’t put it down. Teller framing this retelling as if it was historical fiction was a brilliant decision. It brought the whole story to life in a way that telling it as a magical fantasy with pumpkins turning into carriages wouldn’t have.

I highly recommend give All the Ever Afters a try. It’s a beautifully written book which will have you completely rethinking the Cinderella story.

1 review
February 10, 2018
What’s a good novel for if not to whisk us away from every day life and transport us to another place and time, a chance to escape and be entertained by way of a captivating tale. “All the Ever Afters” delivers in spades! Danielle Teller’s well crafted, fresh new take on an old Fairy Tale, captured my imagination with her depiction of Cinderella’s family and their before unknown struggles. I was completely drawn in by their constant tussle between good and evil, love and beauty and the ever twisting river of good and bad fortune.

I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who craves a well written story that left me happily satisfied and wanting more from Danielle Teller.
Profile Image for Kris - My Novelesque Life.
4,639 reviews190 followers
June 20, 2019
​​2018; William Morrow/HarperCollins Canada
(Review Not on Blog)

Retellings are always a hit or miss for me. I really enjoyed the film version of Ever After (about Cinderella) so I was excited to read this retelling of the stepmother's story. You always wonder about the villains and how they came to be so cruel. Or, is that just the Psychology major in me? Lol. I don't know if it is the timing or mood, but I just could not get into this story. It was well-written but I just couldn't really feel for Agnes. The story just didn't give Agnes much motivation, and it fell flat. A great idea for a story though.

***I received an eARC from EDELWEISS***
Profile Image for Jennie Shaw.
311 reviews292 followers
May 24, 2018
Fresh and ferocious, ALL THE EVER AFTERS is the best fairy tale retelling I've ever read. Wholly original, Teller took the Cinderella story we know and love and flipped the script. With strong themes about society's view on physical beauty and even stronger prose, I devoured each chapter. They say that everyone is the hero in their own life but in this case, Agnes was a shining star and far more interesting than the traditional tale implied. Five stars, plus one million stars, for a total of one million and five stars.
Profile Image for Paula.
730 reviews77 followers
June 9, 2018
Took everything think I thought I knew about Cinderella and turned it on it’s head! Great audio, too.
Profile Image for Anupama C K(b0rn_2_read) .
691 reviews70 followers
May 5, 2018
A beautiful retelling of Cinderella , from the step mother’s perspective.Cinderella was always one of my favourite fairy tales , so i was excited to read it from the Step mother’s POV. As i started the story i realised that i didn’t even know her name it was always “the wicked stepmother”, who made Cinderella , do all the work and pampered her own daughters. So let me tell you , her name was Agnes, by the time i finished the book i actually felt sad for her ( I can’t believe it myself that i would feel bad for her).

Agnes was sent to work at a manor house, as her family was too poor to support her. She worked as a laundry girl when she was just 10 years old ,under the cruel reign of the head laundress , Laura. When an opportunity arose , she managed to escape her role, and became a chambermaid to another lady. Later circumstances bring her back to the manor house, and she becomes the nurse of Ella , whom we later know as Cinderella.

The cover reminded of all the fairytales I have read and that is what that attracted me in the first place. The story removes all the magic which was involved in the fairytale, but i loved how everything is connected to the original fairy tale. The writing style is good, and i didn’t have to skip over the descriptions. The story is neither fast paced nor dragging. Most of the characters were realistic, they were shades of grey. The women in that era, were nothing without a man, that part stung .

Recommended for fantasy readers

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the review copy
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