THE ETERNAL APPEAL OF CINDERELLA
All little girls love the story of Cinderella. Well, there are probably exceptions, but they must be few. The discovery that a poor girl who is forced to wear rags as she drudges incessantly at all the most menial tasks set her by a wicked stepmother has a fairy godmother is breathtaking. So is the notion that with one wave of her wand the godmother can send the girl to a prince’s ball—the tall, handsome Prince Charming, no less—wearing a gorgeous ball gown and glass slippers (ouch!) to catch the eye of the prince himself and actually dance with him (it must have been a waltz, don’t you think?). The terrible letdown of midnight coming too soon and Cinderella’s coach turning into a pumpkin and her ball gown into rags is merely a temporary setback as the prince searches frantically for the wearer of the glass slipper left behind on the palace steps. Then the denouement—ah, sigh! For of course the slipper fits only Cinderella. Prince Charming has found her and marries her and thus makes her into a princess. And they lived happily ever after. One more sigh!
I think most women have a soft spot for the story too, and probably a few men. The basic story, with innumerable adaptations, has been recreated over and over again in stories and movies. The rags-to-riches theme combined with a love story is irresistible. There is a potential problem, however, especially in the 21stcentury. Most adult readers demand more of a romantic hero and heroine than the original story provides. The hero must be more than just a handsome prince, and the heroine must be far more than just a poor downtrodden girl waiting for a prince to find her and marry her and give her identity, wealth, and security. Readers demand more of a love story than boy meets girl, falls in love with her, pursues her, and marries her. And of girl suffering in patient silence through a life of drudgery and bullying while she waits for some man to come to her rescue (preferably tall, dark, handsome and rich). Readers want more of a relationship than the simple romance of a first starry-eyed encounter followed immediately by love and marriage and happily ever after.
Don’t they need to know each other?
We expect a hero and a heroine with depth of character. We want equality in their relationship, even if their circumstances are quite different. We need to know that they can bring assets (not necessarily material) of equal value to the relationship. We want a story that shows the growth of their characters and a development of their knowledge and understanding of each other. We want to see them fall in love—not just with each other’s looks and surface charms, but with the person behind those attractions. And we want to know that it is real love, that it is based on a solid foundation and will last a lifetime. We don’t demand (at least I don’t) happily-ever-after because there is no such thing. But we do want to know at the end that these two people stand a very good chance of remaining happy together because they have already shown a willingness to work on valuing themselves and each other and of loving each other through thick and thin.
We want substance, in other words.
Actually, what I think we hope for in the romantic stories we read and movies we watch is everything.We want to have our cake and eat it. But surely we can have both a realistic story with the sort of hero and heroine we can relate to and believe in and at the same time have the sheer romance of a Cinderella story. Why not? Life isn’t always or even often an either/or proposition. Fiction doesn’t need to be one or the other either. By all means let us have both!
Sophia Fry, heroine of THE ARRANGEMENT, Book 2 of my Survivors’ Club series, is very much a Cinderella figure at the start of the book, and she faces total destitution when she is tossed out of her sorry home after being foolish enough to save Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, from the devious matchmaking schemes of her aunt, uncle, and cousin. Vincent, of course, comes to her rescue in true Cinderella story fashion. He marries her. But he is Prince Charming with a difference—he was blinded at the age of seventeen in the Napoleonic Wars. And this story does not end with the wedding. It really only begins there. But before it does begin, Sophia demands a sort of prenuptial agreement, something Cinderella did not do.
In my book LONGING, Siân Jones lives with her grandparents and her uncle in a small house in a Welsh coalmining valley. She works long hours in the mines, harnessed to a coal cart which she drags along low, poorly ventilated tunnels from the coal seam to the shaft. Yet she ends up married to Alexander Hyatt, Marquess of Craille, the blond, handsome and wealthy new English owner of the mine and its accompanying steelworks. There is a long and troublesome journey between the starting and ending points, however. Times are tough and the workers throughout the Welsh valleys are beginning to rebel against the owners. Siân is a strong-willed, high-principled Cinderella, devoted to her family and her community and her Welsh heritage. Alexander is a powerful man who nevertheless is willing to learn and show humility in face of the rich and ancient Welsh culture and a close-knit community he had not expected before he came from England to take up his inheritance.
To one person who leaves a comment below by Friday, October 5, I will send a signed copy of either LONGING or THE ARRANGEMENT (British edition with a different cover)–winner’s choice.
Last week’s winner of a copy of ONLY BELOVED was Claire Gilless.
This week’s winner is BRENDA MATZEK. Congratulations to her! Thank you all for your comments.
I can not decide wish book I would like. So I would like for you to pick. On the blog, who doesn’t believe that at some point in their life, she was Cinderella and wants a Price Charming
I like Cinderella stories, but I do think there needs to be more between them than just meeting once. That’s why I love when retellings flesh out the characters more, like the movie Ever After.
The story of Cinderella is timeless, heartwarming and affirms that truth and justice do exist and goodness triumphs. I’m delighted that you’ve chosen to write a story along these lines. I can’t wait to read The Arrangement!
Cinderella never really appealed to me but your version of how it should be does. I like your blogs!
I would love a copy of your new book.
I found that my need for more substance increased as I matured. So stories where a woman has to be taken care of do not entice me to read them any longer. When I was younger, the thoughts of being taken care of by a husband were appealing. Of course, things did not work out that way. I got my education, changed jobs a couple times, moved to a different part of the country, and did some traveling. I did not meet my Prince Charming until I was 29. And then he was not what I imagined but I realized that he was a good man and fell in love. Now, as a 50 year old woman, I am proud that I can help to support my family (the children who are quickly approaching launch time from the nest)! If something had happened to him, I would have been fine and able to support my family. My husband is the icing on my cake of life and if that equates to Prince Charming then all the more for that! I love your stories, one of my favorite characters is Sydnam from Simply Love, not sure why but loved him!
I remember Dad taking us kids to see Cinderella when it first came out – and there were 8 of us! I was enthralled with this animated movie! The idea that a step-mother and step-sisters would treat a young woman as a servant in her own home, was unimaginable in a young girls mind. I get teary eyes every time I watch them tear her dress apart, then leave her in rags as they leave for the ball.
Her fairy godmother! What young girl, after seeing this movie, didn’t believe in fairy godmothers? To this day, I find myself humming “Bibbi-bobbi-dee-boo”, every now and again.
A few years back, two of my sisters and I went to the theater, on Mothers Day, to see the latest version of “Cinderella” – and I fell in love with it all over again. They changed the story somewhat, from the animated, and had Prince Charming and Cinderella meeting, in the woods, while she’s out on her horse to get away from the home and he’s out hunting. And he’s already King when the Ball is held. The fairy godmother, in this version, was an even bigger hoot! Loved her.
I’m still not sure which Prince is my favorite – Prince Charming or Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty. I think I’m leaning towards Prince Phillip, only because of the singing and dancing scene with Aurora, in the woods.
Oh, and according to the fairy godmother, in the latest version of Cinderella, those glass slippers are “really comfortable!”
There are so many tropes I love to read. The Cinderella-type story is great, especially when it turns out that Cinderella has so much to offer to the prince, as well. I’d love to win a copy of The Arrangement. Thanks for the chance.
As the youngest of four children, I came along when my parents were considered old. Keep in mind it was 1953 and my mom was 37! I grew up in a rural area of north Mississippi ; my parents were strong in faith and taught us the mean of hard work. When I met my husband in college, I definitely felt like a Cinderella! He was a handsome city guy! He’s been my Prince Charming ever since! We’ve been married over 44 years!
I have all your books thus far, but would love a signed copy of any one of them!
By all means, let the story include some depth and a strong sense that the hero and heroine are looking more than skin-deep for their happily ever after!
I have not ever read one of your books that I didn’t love. It’s so s as d to read the last page and know that it’s ending.
There is always something about the Cinderella story, and I think it depends on my mood how much depth and “more” I want with it. Sometimes I just want the actual story of Cinderella because there is something so innocent about it. It’s not set in a modern society so they don’t need “more”. But other times I want characters I can get to know and love, rather than symbols.
What a great blog topic. I love a good Cinderella story, but it does need substance and a fresh spin. I have yet to find myself bored while reading one of your books and, in fact, quite a few of my copies are looking rather “well loved” from reading them so many times. A signed copy would be amazing!
In the original Cinderella, good was rewarded & the evil stepsisters received their comeuppance. A timeless tale.
I would love a signed copy of either of these books! I personally have to have substance to the attraction in a story, but I love a Cinderella story.
Your novels always draw me into the story and leave me wishing I knew how the rest of the characters’ lives unfolded. I would enjoy a signed copy of either novel.
I always had trouble with the Cinderella myth but I do like your way of resolving it.
Love your books and your blog.
Both books sound good .. Good luck to the winner ?
To me Cinderella is all about LOVE & PEACE. Cinderella first learned love through her parents. She treated the animals & people around her with the same love, that’s why animals always came to her. Even in a society where connections & money are everything Cinderella didn’t pay back her step mother/ sisters for their mistreatment of her. Perhaps this is what galled them into being mean! Finally, when the reader is pouring tears the fairy Godmother gives Cinderella what everyone has. Yet, at the ball she doesn’t put on airs but steps out trusting love. Prince Charming can’t help but be captivated! In fact he has the whole countryside searched for the woman who IS LOVE! As the glass slipper is finally placed on Cinderella’s foot a sense of peace descends as love has been captured & even the step family is forgiven. For Cinderella harbours LOVE & PEACE.
I do love a Cinderella story because it encourages hope. However it’s just so sad that usually the antagonist of the story is a relative. Families should support each other yet jealousy invariably get in the way.
Whether I win or not, I have to read “the longing”. I think I read it years ago.
I love your books and have a ton of them.I buy everyone I can find that I do not have.
The depth of the characters and their relationships in your stories profoundly move me and leave me impatiently waiting for the next.
Cinderella is a great story. It gives hope that your dreams can come true.
I just reread Someone to Love — such a great Cinderella story! As a hardworking teacher, I would have loved to learn I was an heiress! I’m looking forward to the next installment of the Westcott saga (coming in November).
I like fairy tales and always go see the remake movies.
I love all your stories, but Longing was especially appealing to me because of Sian’s strong principles, and her having to go against her loving family and community to do what she thought was right.
I absolutely LOVE your storytelling! I really get so immersed in your books that it is hard for me to put them down and switch out the laundry or whatever needs to be done! Thank you for sharing your stories with us and taking us on adventures with your heroes and heroines. <3
I have always loved the story of Cinderella. My favorite of your books is “Slightly Dangerous”. I felt that even with all his wealth and power, Wulfric was the one who needed rescuing. Their story was so beautiful. I would love a copy of “Longing”.
There are hundreds of ‘ Cinderella’ stories, written world wide in different cultures. I taught 5th grade for 23 years, and one literature unit involved folk tales, fairy tales, legends, and tall tales. One of my favorite Cinderella stories was The Rough Face Girl by Rafe Martin.
Would love to win an autographed copy.
I lone The Arrangement. I like how she saves him from her predictors family and he reciprocated by rescuing her. In the long run, they save each other. It is a lovely story.
I have always loved the Cinderella stories. Your books are so enjoyable that I’m always looking for the next one. Would love to have a signed copy of Longing.
I enjoyed the comments re Cinderella stories. We all have some kind of Cinderella threads going through out lives. We have set backs ups and downs and lots of happy ever after (almost) moments. I have always found escape from whatever life throws at me in a book. I read a great deal. Love books. My retirement goal has always been listen to my favourite music and read books. I still like my books to have a happy ever after ending. Life for me is too short for any other ending! Thank you for your books – they have bought much pleasure and enjoyment.
I have read your books and loved them for many years. I had all of your tapestry books. I automatically order any new book that you write. Thanks for many years of wonderful reading. Would love to have a signed copy of Longing.
I grew up with the German version of this fairy tale which is a little bit more brutal (the toes and heals of the stepsisters are chopped off to fit the shoe) than the Disney version. So it was never my favourite story because the sisters whatever they did suffer until their death.
On the other hand there is this beautiful Czech movie where Cinderella is a tomboy, who hunts and rides and gets her Prince in the end (the film gets a rerun every Christmas in the German TV). The stepsister and -mother as they flee end up in a ditch full of cold water. They suffer but there still is hope that they will mend their ways.
Maybe this is the reason why I haven’t read your book Longing yet. It sits on my shelf but every time I want too read it I fear that despite a happy ending, your brilliant story telling there is for me a little bit too much suffering between the book covers.
I’d love a copy please. I read so many of your books at one point that I charted them to keep track of relationships and names. Can’t find the list and have forgotten what I’ve and not read.
In your current series, SOMEONE TO LOVE is the classic Cinderella story. The poor orphan who finds out she is an heiress and the product of a legitimate marriage rather than the bastard child she thought she was. Good book. But equally fascinating to me is the reverse Cinderella story of the rest of the Wescott family (Isabelle and Viola so far) who find out they are suddenly disinherited because of the bigamous marriage of the late Earl. While they are not reduced to cleaning ashes from the fireplace, they have lost their fortune and status. You are so clever.
Surely we all have moments where we would like to overlook personal responsibility for our futures, skip over the education, commitment, and consequences of our choices on others, and just go straight to the good stuff(happily ever afters.) That’s why God created chocolate. And wine. And novels.
I agree with your Cinderella premise, but I’m caught by the idea of readers’ demands and how they’ve changed romance-writing over the years. My mother cleaned out her library and sent me boxes and boxes of books – as any frugal Midwestern housewife would do – and I’m horrified by some of the stories from the 70s/early 80s! I’m extremely thankful that we’ve moved beyond the wealthy/domineering/rude/chauvinist boss and the wimpy/beautiful/long-suffering secretary who puts up with his bad behavior until he finally realizes he loves her after she quits theme 🙂 Thank you for your non-traditional heroines (and heroes) who never fail to touch my heart!
I am a recent fan of your books, having randomly picked out “Simply Magic” from my local library because I wanted a CD audiobook for my vehicle. I have since read/listened to the whole series as well as the Bedwyn series. What captured me in your writing was the very concept in your blog of “having your cake and eating it too.” It wasn’t empty romance, it was a discovery of love that was realistic and took time and involved real people with flaws and strengths and determination. Just yesterday I listened to the whole of “Simply Love” again, not able to stop, its life lessons speaking to my heart on a level that is not entirely conscious. The Welsh setting and having read this morning your website and numerous comments on it about Welsh music, and “Longing” in particular, gave me the desire to look it up and read it next. Then I thought I’d take a peek at your blog, and find it is featured! It would be an honour to own a signed copy, though the other book sounds just as intriguing. Like another fan, I will also be looking up Welsh male choirs on YouTube!
Thank you for both of those Cinderella stories. I have enjoyed your books since I found one at Waldenbooks back in my early twenties. They always make me feel happy.
Well, “Longing” will be my next read.
I love a good Cinderella story, but you’re right, nowadays I expect more from Cinderella and her prince. And I have to say, I love your books 🙂
So many stories follow Cinderella ‘s format, but have you read the Russian fairytale The Frog Princess?? If not, you really need to. It might give you some inspiration! It is nothing like the frog prince stories! And I think it holds a great lesson in integrity:)
I agree about both the appeal and the problems of the Cinderella trope. I think the point isn’t that Cinderella is saved by the Prince, but that she survives the abuse/tragedy/drudgery with integrity until she finds the way out. The one who actually helps is the godmother – and because Cinderella has integrity/kindness/endurance she has something to give the man who looks at her to really see her and love her. After all, even if Cinderella is the most glittering lady at the ball, there is enough glitter all around to blind the prince to the substance. I know the glass slipper supposedly helps the prince to find Cinderella, but there are versions where the stepsisters try to force themlselves into it and the prince has to realize that it isn’t the real fit.
I hope to read some of your takes on Cinderella sometime!
I would love to read Both books . Either book would make me happy to have .
I would love to be considered for this draw. Love your books so much I have collected many of them already.
The Cinderella theme is the romantic ideal for all of us who love a romance. But it is a ideal and works probably only in movies and books. The movie Enchanted with Amy Adams really showed this by contrasting the animated romanticized land with the reality of modern New York. It’s great to see a greater depth in the characters and stories in romances today which makes them more relevant to modern life but yet gives us the satisfaction of the “happily ever after” ending.
I love a Cinderella story! Every girl deserves her prince! ❤️
Cinderella is a story of a woman with a possibility to find a better live with love. the arrangment looks like a story that show that but by other ways.
I think that Sophia is not a Cinderella. She is not passive waiting for a fairy godmother. She agrees to Vincent’s proposal to be sure, but she is determined to live up to her end of the bargain and make Vincent independent-even if it means he will not need her.
Siân marries a wealthy man to escape the mines , but does not rest on her laurels and live the life of luxury. She works to help others.
I do not care for the premise that a man is what a heroine needs to fix her life. I like stories where a partnership is forged.
I love the idea of Prince Charming, and Cinderella. I met my Prince Charming when I was 49, but I did not come into my life and take it over, he supported me, and gave me the means and love to let me grow. We have now been together 14 years and got married last year, He is my Prince Charming, and they do exist. I love the Arrangement, and have read it 3 times, so if I am lucky enough to win, I would like Longing please.
I love the Cinderella stories because it is not only about meeting the prince it is about hope and working towards a better future. As well as finding a partner to help shape that future ?
I have both printed versions, I guess I don’t need another one, lol. But it would be nice to have your signature on one of them.?
I like Cinderella because it gives everyone hope. And I do like a ‘happy ever after’. I read for pleasure. To escape into a fantasy world. Even for just a little while. I enjoy your books very much and would be honored to be chosen to receive one from you. Thank you.
Love Cinderella stories because they are full of hope. I think that they’re so much better when the heroine is not a victim but a strong woman with dreams on her own and the Prince Charming is more than a knight in armor.
My problem with the Disney Cinderella is that the Prince falls in love with her because she’s beautiful. The audience knows she’s kind and generous-hearted and deserving but *he* doesn’t.
One thing I love about your books is that the hero and heroine may first fall in lust, but they always end with a powerful emotional bond. And each heals the other. Swoooon.
I actually own all three of these books — The Arrangement is truly a very special book, more beacuase of Sophie than Vincent, in my opinion — so if my name comes up in the drawing, please pick another.
I think the appeal of the Cinderella story is that it can be easy to imagine yourself in her place at the beginning. Most of us have felt invisible, used or disposable at some point in our lives and if we can connect with that part then it seems only sensible that one day too we’ll get our Happily Ever After. Well, here’s hoping anyway!
The biggest thing I love about your books is the imperfection of the main characters. She’s not always beautiful, he’s not always handsome, they have disabilities, fears, frailties…your stories are very human. Thanks for writing them!
Happy Thursday! I loved the Arrangement. The entire Survivors Club was wonderfully poignant and enthralling but I have read and reread them all and gravitate towards the Arrangement. The scene where she has thrown out of her home for telling the truth and has to spend the night at a church was wonderful. The hero’so solution was wonderful and truly made the cruel family reaped what they had down. Thank you for your great books. Have s blessed day! ❤️?
One thing I love about the Cinderella story of The Arrangement is that Sophie is such a strong person, despite all she has been through, and at first glance, not a beauty. Vincent does so much to show her love and affection and acceptance and she does all she can to help him gain more independence from both his family and his blindness. Then the merging into the loving couple, not to mention, successful author and illustrator! And Longing is really not about rags to riches — so much more for Sian to find someone, somewhere with Alexander where she finds acceptance after feeling “out of place” for most of her life. And for Alexander to find solace from that nagging sense of Longing he has felt. Sian was such a strong character and stood up for her principles despite terrible consequences, and I love Alexander’s courage to stand up to the status quo and act on his experience and principles. I love and have both books, but would love to have an autographed copy of Longing– then I can make my other copy a loaner.
I enjoy your books because the characters have had struggles but have persisted and because of your series we get to discover how their stories of love and family and relationships continue over time. You are so talented and I appreciate your imagination and hard work while writing your books. Thank you.
Loved Longing and would consider myself very honored to add a signed copy to my collection as for the Cinderella love story discussion, I will always believe that true love wins in the end?
I think deep down women and men hope duty, devotion, perseverance, hard work will be rewarded not just by money and comfort, but by having our dreams and desires met. Love and relationship with a special some one, again, is something both sexes wish for. Some day my prince will come, but also some day my princess will come.
A thoughtful article, Mary Balogh. Thank you.
Your book, The Arrangement, sounds like a great “get my cocoa and in my relax in my recliner” type story! I would love to read it! And really, who doesn’t like a Cinderella type good read every once in a while?!
I love all your books and I would dearly love to win.
Longing is my most favourite which I have read several times
And cry every time so thank you for this chance.
I love Cinderella stories because of their ability to make it through any complicated situation
I have been reading your books for a long time. In addition to all the books I bought I found several of your older and out of print books in my local library. It was like finding a treasure trove. I read every single one they had. My favorite is tie between Summer to Remember and Slightly Dangerous. I also loved Sophie in the Arrangement. I love the way you portray the characters in your books. I admired Sophie for her resolve to help Vincent gain some independence. It is like getting to know a new friend each time I read one of your books.
I can hardly wait to read the next book in the Westcott series.
I would love to read any one of your books Mary. And add you to my Author’s list too.