Thursday 7 January 2021

The Charmed Wife - Olga Grushin


And they lived happily ever after . . . didn't they?

Cinderella married the man of her dreams - the perfect ending she deserved after diligently following all the fairy-tale rules. Yet now, two children and thirteen-and-a-half years later, things have gone badly wrong.

One night, she sneaks out of the palace to get help from the Witch who, for a price, offers love potions to disgruntled housewives. But as the old hag flings the last ingredients into the cauldron, Cinderella doesn't ask for a love spell to win back her Prince Charming.

Instead, she wants him dead.

What did I think?

I love fairytale retellings and Cinderella was my favourite Disney movie as a child...who am I kidding - it still is!  So I was completely intrigued by Olga Grushin's take on what happens next after the happy couple rush down the steps into their waiting carriage.  Charles Perrault claims that they lived happily ever after but Olga Grushin points out elements of our favourite fairytale that suggest it was very unlikely indeed.

Much like a fairytale, you do have to suspend belief when reading a retelling.  I found The Charmed Wife very easy to read and enjoyable but it didn't quite manage to make me fall under its spell.  I loved the way it made me look at the Cinderella story in a new light.  I mean they don't even tell each other their names when they meet and the prince obviously can't remember what she looks like or he'd have gone looking for her himself instead of sending people out to see who the shoe fits!

One thing I didn't really like in the book was the little interludes with the mice story; it was ok at first but after a while I felt like it interrupted the flow of the main story and I couldn't read these parts fast enough to get back to the main event.  There is a point to the mice story which was well made as it shows the depth of Cinderella's character but there was just too much mousiness for me.

With a lecherous prince and a murderous princess, The Charmed Wife is a dark, sobering and modern adult fairytale.  It's challenging and thought-provoking, reminding us that life never turns out like a Disney movie.  

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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