Monday, August 31, 2009

Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon
Copyright 2009
Three Rivers Press - Fiction/General
288 pages

Godmother begins in a charming little antiquarian bookstore in Manhattan. Elderly Lillian works in the store and barely makes enough money to survive but she loves her job. Early in the morning, she opens the glass case behind the counter and reads from a book that is very special because of the scrawled reminder in French, translated, "All my old loves will be returned to me." Lillian hopes this sentiment will come true for her because she used to be a fairy godmother -- and a very special one. She was Cinderella's fairy godmother, but she made a huge mistake and was cast down to Earth. At least . . . that's what we are led to believe.

The author basically draws you into this magical, fanciful tale about a woman who must bind her wings every day before going out into the world and who has been separated from her perfect, beautiful life as a fairy. The scenes alternate between her days as a fairy godmother (with her sister and two other best-fairy friends) and her current life. Lillian has discovered what she believes will finally be the way to return to the fairies -- by acting as a fairy godmother to a young lady she has met, bringing her together with the handsome and wealthy divorcee who owns the bookstore where Lillian works. Perfect! She can atone for her mistake with Cinderella and encourage a happily-ever-after ending for two people who appear to be made for each other.

Or, so the story goes until nearly the end of the tale. And, this is where little Bookfool's brain began to throb in a most discomforting manner because basically the author took everything she'd led the reader to believe and turned it upside down and inside-out. All I can say without spoiling the book completely is that there is a surprise twist. And, I suppose only the individual can decide whether or not that twist is palatable. In my opinion, it ruined the book. I enjoyed the first 250 pages. It was a nice blend of reality and fantasy. The ending, however, completely destroyed the book for this reader.

The usual Bookfool Method of Amending Bad Endings is to reimagine them in my own mind. Of course, I can't hang onto the book, in that case, because I'll be reminded of the real ending and that might make me grit my teeth, so this one will not stay in my home. I thought Marie at Boston Bibliophile wrote an excellent review:

Marie a and I felt about the same. I like her rating, "BORROW". Yep, I'd have to agree. Godmother is not a book I will ever reread. I loved it until the ending; it was on the verge of becoming one of my favorite books of the month. And, then . . . well. Damn. It was just disappointing.

3/5 - The vast majority of this book was wonderful. While the writing is a little cliché, I thought it actually improved as the story progressed. And, then that ending. Sigh. I knocked off two points because of the ending, when a magical, lovely tale went splat and became an average book that I was tempted to throw at the wall. I have to give the author her due; if not for the ending, I would have loved this book.

The most fitting quote just popped up at Twitter: If you are going to make a book end badly, it must end badly from the beginning. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thanks for that, Bob. And, thank you to AdviceToWriters for tweeting that quote.

In other news . . . there's not much other news. We called off the flooring people till Thursday because Bookfool was suffering. Suffering, I tell you. In a word: migraine. You would think medical science would have figured out how to prevent those suckers, by now, wouldn't you??

Just walked in: Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante

Just about to walk out: 11 books and an audio that have all been requested from Paperback Swappers. I love it when I get a whole bunch of requests at once. The people in line behind me at the Post Office usually are not as thrilled as I am.

Tomorrow: I'll be going to a swim meet! Squee! And, the weather is decent!!! Kind of weird for August, but we're loving it. I was going to post a picture of my son swimming, but he said I don't have permission. I'll sneak one in when he's not looking, later in the week. Don't tell. ;)

Bookfool, recently taunted by a hummingbird who apparently did not realize he was supposed to hover nicely and pose, rather than chase a butterfly and then hide in the tree.


  1. I'm bummed to see Godmother doesn't end well. Sorry to see those darn migraines are plaguing you - maybe the cooler weather will help.

  2. I felt exactly the same about this book. Exactly. The ending made no sense at all, and it resulted, for me, in an entire book which had no internal logic. I've found this happening with a few first novels lately; the "twist" at the end doesn't work with the rest of the book. If you're going to have a twist, it has to be for a reason. Love the RLStevenson quote, it is very apropos.

  3. I am sorry to hear that the ending is not good! I will have to give the book a miss coz of that!
    Soorry to hear abt your migraine! i hope it is better when you have to goto the swim meet!

    Hope you enjoy your time there

  4. Kathy,

    I was bummed, too. The ending of a book should be consistent with the beginning and middle, in my humble opinion. And, it was soooo good till then!!!

    Thanks. Yeah. I need to move north, but that's not likely to happen any time soon. Bummer.


    Exactly!! The book was consistent till the end and that made the whole thing all wrong. I've actually read an entire book about this . . . let me go look. Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress. It's about that whole concept of putting the pieces together so that a novel is a cohesive and coherent story and how even at the beginning the reader should have a sense of how a book's going to end. Wasn't that quote wonderful? Excellent timing. I just happened to zip over to twitter at the right moment.

  5. Veens,

    It's so sad. The book could have ended in such a lovely way and then . . . well, you know. I would advise anyone who reads it to go into it expecting to be disappointed.

    Thanks! I hope I don't have a migraine, tomorrow, too. I love, love, love swim meets -- especially the ones hosted at our pool (because it's outdoors and not as noisy or crowded as most).

  6. My aunt is always begging my sister and me to come to swim meets and watch the kids swim. I only went once and it was awful. Loud and hot is not my idea of a pleasant day.
    Although the weather has been unusally mild here. It is quite freaky to me because it should still be in the upper 90s. :)

  7. Brittanie,

    They are definitely loud and hot, although our local swim meets are less noisy than most because we usually don't have as many teams competing (except during the St. Al meet). When we go to the more crowded meets, I have to wear earplugs and we take frequent outdoor breaks.

    I think it makes a difference, though, that I know most of the kids. It's kind of magical watching them go from practice to competition. Also, swimming is one of the happiest sports I've ever been involved in. People cheer each other on, but they don't ever yell at the kids for making mistakes. I love that. Soccer and baseball were miserable, mostly because of bad parents.

    Boy, that was a long reply. LOL Isn't the weather amazing? Yeah, usually at this point you have rivers of sweat trickling down your back and legs. It's so, so nice out!!!

  8. I was looking forward to this one; sorry the ending was not good for you :(

  9. Yay for swim meets! I'm excited for you and tell kiddo he'd got to let you put up a couple of photos! We'll be so very sad if you can't.

    I hate books that end that way. Seriously.

    Have you ever heard of cluster migraines? A neighbor several years ago committed suicide due to cluster migraines. They are absolutely horrid from everything I've heard/read. No, I'm not suggesting that's what you, Chris, or I have - I'm just kinda saying we may actually be lucky?

    I hope it goes away soon. I need to drop you an email - which one do you prefer?


  10. Sometimes I really hate it when everything gets flipped on its head right at the end. It used to bug me that the Harry Potter books do that, until I just accepted and expected it every time. The final twist.

  11. Diane,

    I'd advise you to just do what I did. Read it and reimagine the ending, if you can. The vast majority of the book is enjoyable.


    I'll just sneak a few past him. Kiddo is not too awfully attentive, most days. :)

    I like a good twist, but this was a bad twist. I don't think of them as cheap literary tactics, in most cases. This time . . . the ending was so totally wrong for the book that the closest thing I can think of it Nicholas Sparks and the book I did, in fact, throw at the wall. But, the rest of the book was well-written, so it's not at quite that level.

    Yes, I've heard of cluster migraines. They're intense, but they're supposed to be short-lived (like 20 minutes). I don't think that's true for everyone, though. I think I basically consider myself cursed, not lucky. I probably need an attitude adjustment. :)

    Do you have my bellsouth addy?


    It's been so long since I read a Harry Potter book that I don't remember any surprising twist endings, but yeah . . . in certain cases, you come to expect them and sometimes they're okay. This time, I thought the ending was all wrong for the story.

  12. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Hmm I really want to read this. Maybe if I am forewarned about the ending it won't be such a let down.

  13. Rhinoa,

    It might help that you've been forewarned. The vast majority of the book is lovely and magical. The ending just kind of rips your heart out and pounced on it. You can always do what I did -- decide to mentally change the ending and enjoy the rest. :)

  14. THis is in my TBR pile so I'm interested to see if my review matches yours and Marie's.

    (Life by Candlelight)

  15. Amy,

    I can't wait to hear your opinion. Don't panic. It's a great book until the end, so I don't necessarily regret reading it. I just thought the ending was all wrong for the story.

  16. Hmmm, reading your review sounds a lot like my book club's discussion of Life of Pi: fantastic save for the ending. This sounds like a goodie for me but like you suggest, I'll just have to make up my own ending! :)

  17. Rosemary,

    I haven't read Life of Pi, yet, so I'll consider that a warning! I still plan to read it. Interesting. Seriously, about reimagining the ending -- whatever works. The rest of the book was so good. I figure, what the heck. I can do pretend. LOL

  18. Even if I didn't love fairy tale retellings, I'd probably pick this one up at some point just because I want to know what about the ending causes everyone to have such a strong reaction!

    PS: I hear it's your birthday! Or was it yesterday? In any case, happy, happy birthday, Nancy :D

  19. Nymeth,

    Funny you should say that. I just sent The Imposter's Daughter, yesterday, and I tucked in my copy of Godmother. There's also a little note and a bookmark Simon gave me. I'm anxious to know what you think of both books.

    Yes, yesterday was my birthday! It was a good one. I had a great time at the swim meet, talking to actual humans. I don't get out much, you see. :)

  20. Doesn't look like I have it, Nancy. Why don't you drop me an email with it? I've got a question I'd like to ask, but not here.

    Boy, does that sound mysterious?


  21. CJ,

    I emailed you. Well, yes, it does sound a little funny. You can be mysterious if you want to. :)

  22. I'm sad to hear that this didn't have a good ending. I kind of had my heart set on reading it at some point, but I can't see wasting the time since both you and the Boston Bibliophile both thought the same thing.

  23. Alyce,

    I didn't read any reviews before I read the book and I have to wonder if I'd have avoided it if I had. I loved the vast majority of the book, but I can see why you'd want to avoid reading a book that more than one person mentioned was ruined by the ending. Now, I have to decide whether or not to read Life of Pi because one of my commenters mentioned her group feeling the same way about that one (it's on my stacks)!


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