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Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  2,174 ratings  ·  515 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
ebook, 171 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Rori Rockman I liked both Mermaid and The Fairest of Them All better than this book. (I liked both Mermaid and The Fairest of Them All, but did not like Godmother.…moreI liked both Mermaid and The Fairest of Them All better than this book. (I liked both Mermaid and The Fairest of Them All, but did not like Godmother.)(less)
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Average rating 3.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,174 ratings  ·  515 reviews

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Jan 30, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I finished this book last night and I am still stymied on how to review it. The author retells classic fairy tales with back stories with twists that include great character development. I have enjoyed her work and expected this story to follow that path.
The fairy realm and it's dealing with humans is the centerpiece here. Cinderella's fairy godmother,instead of being the matchmaker, attempted to take the prince for herself. Her effort earned her banishment to the human world that she so envied
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. ...more
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great little fairy-tale adaptation! At first I wasn’t so sure I would enjoy this novel but it got better and better the further I read. The author does a fine job of capturing human emotions in her characters (I felt the same way about her novel “Rain Village”) although sometimes she becomes a tad bit repetitive (such as, okay...we understand...the main character is sad all the time...). This novel was well worth the effort and the ending was superb! I wasn’t expecting the twisty twist an ...more
Mar 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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 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
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairytale, favorites
Loved it! I'm really a sucker for fairytale retellings.
And I know that I'll read this one again in the future.
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The moment I put the previous Turgeon book down, I already knew that I truly and totally wanted to read her other work too. So, when my grandparents gave me vouchers for St. Nicholas I already knew that I was gonna get this book. Cinderella is one of my favorite fairytales, so I was really excited to read this one.

And it did not disappoint. Once again Turgeon managed to make a very well known story hers. Her take on Cinderella is original, very original. There was a moment I was getting slightly
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not at all what I was expecting, but I found that I really enjoyed it. It was such an interesting perspective, in so many ways. And I like that it's open to interpretation. This book has many layers. In spite of the fairytale elements, it was surprisingly real.
Mel (Daily Prophecy)
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
Jul 07, 2011 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 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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)
Darker in tone, with bits of magical realism.

Lil has been around this world for a very, very, long time. She works at an used books store in Manhatten, and goes home at night to an apartment, alone with her memories. She used to be a fairy, living in the world under the lake. The brightness and freedom of that time seem so far away now. Her white feathery wings are all she has left as a reminder of who she was before she was banished, and even they must be tightly kept under wraps in the human w
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun fairy book took a turn and then another turn, well then, another. Not sure what I think about this book at all. Clever book, but deceiving.
Aug 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The summary at the back of the book makes it sound like it's a fluffy retelling of the well-known Cinderella story where the godmother is the antagonist. She fall in love with the prince herself, instead of helping Cinderella hooking up with him, and got kicked out of Fairyland to live as human where she works in a bookstore and gets a chance to redeem herself: play the godmother for the bookstore's owner and a hair stylist which she met in the bookstore.

The book could have been great if it wou
Feb 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara Matteson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Abby-Rose Margarida Sparrow

Well, I for one found this a highly disappointing read....

Marketed as a retelling of Cinderella from the fairy godmother's POV with a twist.

Yeah, I guess technically it's a twist. If you don't mind that the twist is that it's really just poorly-paced/set up psychological novel about this annoying old lady who went through a trauma when she was young and is now convinced she was once Cinderella's fairy godmother.

This could have been good, and some of the descriptions were very engrossi
Christina CK
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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All About Fantasy!: Godmother 3 7 Jul 03, 2014 07:09AM  
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Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels—Rain Village, Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, Mermaid, The Fairest of Them All, and The Next Full Moon, most of them based on old-time fairy tales, dark and glimmering—and, more recently, The Faerie Handbook, which came out from HarperCollins in November 2017 and might be the loveliest book printed this century. This will be followed by the equa ...more

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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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