Warning: Spoilers abound
I love Gregory Maguire and have no intention of reading any of his books more than once.
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister was an odd blend of historical fiction and magical realism that offered an interesting take on the Cinderella myth. The part I connected with was the plight of main character and aforementioned ugly stepsister, Iris.
The conceit of Maguire’s story was this: what if the ugly stepsister wasn’t ugly at all? What if she’d been told her whole life by one person that no man would ever want her?
Iris’ mom, Margarethe, is the origin of Iris’ lack of self-worth, calling her daughter plain and insisting no man will ever find Iris or her simple sister Ruth desirable.
Mom of the year, ladies and gentlemen.
It’s bad enough that it’s Iris’ parent spreading these harmful ideas. There are enough forces warping peoples’ perceptions of themselves; significant others don’t need to get in on the act.
Iris’ self-perception leads her to resent her stepsister, Clara, whose only fault is being too beautiful. (No, really. Also, she’s kind of mean.)
The worst part, though, is that Iris’ belief that no one could want her hurts her budding relationship with aspiring painter, Caspar.
Caspar is awesome. I just found out Matthew Goode played him in the TV movie, which is great and all, but nowhere near close to Caspar’s true greatness.
Iris spends the whole book hoping that Caspar will love her, because he’s GREAT, and for much of the book it seems like just that will happen: Caspar paints Iris and calls her beautiful when no one else does.
So of course Margarethe has to ruin it, telling Iris all manner of lies about Caspar, namely that he’s gay and has no interest in her anyway, despite all evidence to the contrary.
That’s the part I hate most: after all Caspar does, Iris finds it impossible to believe he could love her. What’s worse, she can’t accept any true things about herself.
Loving people who believe lies is exhausting and frustrating. It hurts to hear them tell you outrageous lies and not know where they first heard them. I can only do so much to let them know they’re loved. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to fix it.
Caspar loves you, Iris, and it kills him that you mistrust it.
Need cheering up?
What better way to suck out all the angst and heartbreak of the source material than to make a hokey TV movie?
“You are not my family, and I am not a piece of merchandise to be used to benefit you!”
Also, IS THAT GOVERNOR SWANN? Land. Sakes.
Ah yes. Because this is a story about how two strangers can become the best of friends.
I love this trailer.