Author: Hannah Joy Smith
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: June 23, 2022
The worst possible thing has happened. Priscilla’s sister has become the new duchess. Now, their mother holds Cenerentola’s success as the measuring stick that Priscilla can never live up to. All Priscilla wants is to escape the criticism that comes from living in Cenerentola’s shadow. Taking matters into her own hands, Priscilla hastily agrees to a marriage of convenience to Pietro, the baker.
Pietro treats her differently than she has been taught to expect as the family imbecile. While it is easier to hide her illiteracy and innumeracy in this lower class, adjusting to life as a tradesman’s wife is more difficult than Priscilla bargained for. She is willing to make the best of her situation, but the new duchess is intent on meddling with her life.
What will it take for Priscilla to escape from her sister’s influence? How long can she hide from the past that haunts her? Does she even need to?
Reviewer: Juanita Varela
This book was interesting. I have never before read anything like it. Of course, I’ve heard and seen the movie Cinderella, but reading this was a nice, different point-of-view. I enjoyed the author’s referral to Cinderella’s story from a more realistic perspective.
Priscilla gave me mixed feelings. I never knew whether to dislike her or like her. She was a different protagonist. Showing her past, I felt sorry for her, but she used the hatefulness she got from her mother as a weapon against those around her. Kinda like our world now. Most of the bullies out there have problems at home. The ending was perfect. The perfect restoration for Priscilla.
Pietro was just the person for Priscilla. Loving her when she made it difficult.
This book showed that no matter what your past holds, your future can be different. You can have a better tomorrow if you are willing to change.
This book was not really my cup of tea just because of the time period. I love historicals, but I am more of an 1800s reader. This is a perfect read for those who love historicals in the 1400s.
I received a review copy courtesy of the author through Interviews & Reviews for my opinion. I was not required to give a favorable review.
Reviewer: Mary Polyakov
Cindersister explores the delightful tale of Cinderella in Naples in the late 1400s through the perspective of a stepsister who feels unjustly wronged by the Cinderella character and makes her out to be the villain.
The cover and the blurb caught my interest with their welcoming tones. But from the first page, I found myself confused. The first chapter begins with the main character going on about her life. I knew she was angry at someone, but I didn't know who she was, who the object of her anger was, or why the people in the market were talking about her family. Then, on the second page, I was plunged from first-person POV into a flashback, again without being oriented within the scene. There, the "Cinderella" tie-in and the source of viewpoint character were revealed. Priscilla's anger and bitterness came to light, but there wasn't much clarity.
Those flashbacks from the past alternated within the story without being separated from the "present" timeline, and the effect was jarring to me. If the flashbacks had been at the story's beginning, had their own chapters, or were the character's thoughts about her past, I think it would have been more natural to read. But as they were, they took me out of the story.
Another thing that kept me from really getting into the story was Priscilla's selfishness and bitterness. She goes on and on in her mind about how the stepsister servant she and her family mistreated is a "greedy monster," a "witch" trying to ruin her life, and too selfish to give her husband an heir, giving him daughters. But all the reader sees is how kind, mistreated, and generous Agnola is and how blind to goodness and generosity Priscilla is. It was kind of draining to read through all that, especially with the flashbacks mentioning Priscilla's horrible treatment of Agnola. When she went about breaking things to blame on her, harassing her, and thinking of her kind (and the other orphans connected with her) as an infestation.
I wish she had a redeeming quality about her, which would give readers hope for her eventual character transformation. That she loved flowers didn't convince me because skill and a love of pretty things don't reflect good character like kindness and mercy.
There were things with her family, too, that didn't seem to hold true. When she promised ("oath" was the word used) to dye her husband's tunics blue and purposefully deviated from that but played innocent, her husband only "reveal[ed] his true feelings" with a smirk. But broken trust hurts. Broken trust damages relationships. Deceit doesn't usually stay seemingly innocent, especially when it's a way of life. She didn't care about how others would feel because of her actions, which made it very difficult to care about her.
All of that said, the author, I've noticed, clearly loves the written word and has put much effort into creating a reimagining of the tale Cinderella. I'm remembering how in one section, the word charity closed out the chapter, and the next began to delve into the meaning of the word for the characters. It was done in such a seamless way and spoke of meaning and value. I appreciated how the author wove that in and brought a certain depth to the story. And I'm glad to see a clean historical retelling of this lovely tale. It's becoming a rare thing and so much more exciting to come across.
I received a review copy of this book courtesy of the author through Interviews & Reviews. A positive review was not required.
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