This cover. I can't even think straight I love it so much! I'm so thrilled that Rockstar Tours allowed to to join in on this tour, and have Betsy here with a FANTASTIC Guest Post: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Cinderella – and don't forget the giveaway! Enjoy!
About The Book
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Pub. Date: August 25, 2015 | Publisher: Clarion Books (HMH)
Pages: 320 | Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.
But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.
Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.
5 Things you might not know about Cinderella
1. There’s a Cinderella story on every continent! From “Rhodopis” in Egypt to “Beauty and Pock-Face” in China, the story most English speakers call “Cinderella” has far less Eurocentric roots than we realize. I first learned about all those many, many variations in a wonderful class I took at Smith College called “Fairy Tales and Gender.” I started writing Mechanica soon afterward, and I still keep learning about new versions of the tale all the time. (Look for little homages to “Rhodopis” and another version, “Cap-O’-Rushes,” in Mechanica.)
2. The non-Disney Cinderellas are way dark. Most people know about the Brothers Grimm tale, “Aschenputtel,” in which the stepsisters chop off their heels and toes in order to fit into the glass slipper, only to have their copious bleeding give them away. In Perrault’s “Cendrillon,” our heroine’s bird friends peck out the stepsisters’ eyes! And then there are those even darker variants, like “Thousandfurs,” in which the Cinderella figure has to escape from a father who, after his wife’s death, decides he wants to marry his daughter. Robin McKinley wrote a brutal and transcendent retelling of that story, Deerskin, which remains one of my favorite fairy tale retellings of all time.
3. Cinderella’s mother plays a crucial role in most versions. Yeah, that would be her dead mother. Many Cinderellas are essentially ghost stories! The older versions I mentioned, including the Grimms’, don’t feature a fairy godmother at all. Instead, when Cinderella visits her mother’s grave, her tears soak into the ground and awaken her mother, who then sends jewelry and that famous ballgown down to her daughter by way of a tree growing over her grave. I was really interested in the idea of the mother’s influence as I wrote Mechanica, and I hope to explore it even more in a sequel!
4. A “Cinderella story” isn’t quite what you think. For most of us, a Cinderella story means rags to riches or overnight success. But it’s important to consider the very beginning of the story, in which Cinderella is born into at least a very affluent, and often an aristocratic family. The injustice in those tales isn’t that Cinderella is so good and yet treated so poorly, but that she is high born and then demoted to serving her (decidedly less high-class, often ridiculously gauche) stepfamily. A “Cinderella story” is really one of an aristocrat restored to her rightful place--something that doesn’t sit so well with modern American audiences. I wrote more about changing social consciousness and the history of fairy tales here: http://parabola.org/2014/10/31/maidens-a-monsters/
5. The great retellings don’t stop at Disney. Ever After and Ella Enchanted are two of my very favorite Cinderellas, but as I researched Mechanica, I discovered a gorgeous opera, Cendrillon, composed by Jules Massenet. I love it so much that I named my favorite character in Mechanica after him! The version starring Joyce DiDonato and Alice Coote (yes, a woman sings Prince Charming!) is available on DVD and is completely breathtaking, especially the set design. Here’s a preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av8AwaCrEXE
Hi! I'm Betsy Cornwell, an American writer and teacher living in a stove-heated cottage in west Ireland, together with my horse trainer spouse, a small herd of dairy goats, and an increasing number of other animals. I write fiction and nonfiction and blog about Irish folklore, travel, wild food, goats (of course!), homesteading, and growing up.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of MECHANICA and a beautiful watch necklace from this etsy shop! US Only.
2 winners will receive a finished copy of MECHANICA. US Only.
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