A few years ago, I discovered Julie Murphy by way of Dumplin’, which made the rounds around CBR and if I remember right, everyone pretty much loved it. If the Shoe Fits is cute – not as awesome as Dumplin’ – but still an interesting retelling of Cinderella, only without the wicked stepmother and stepsisters. (They’re much nicer in this version.)
Cindy is a recent graduate of Parson’s School of Design, but she feels a bit adrift and not particularly inspired after graduation. She returns home for the summer to nanny to her stepmom’s triplets while she figures out her next steps, and instead of designing shoes and playing Duck Duck Goose with the kids, she finds herself on Before Midnight, a Bachelor type television show that happens to be produced by her stepmother.
At first, she does it as a bit of a dare. She’s feeling flat and uninspired, and wants to shake up her life. She knows what to expect – or at least she thinks she does. But when she’s thrown in to the world of “reality” television, and it becomes increasingly hard to tell what is real and what isn’t, she’s not so sure she’s made the right decision. Because despite her resolve to just showcase her designs and have a little fun, she’s gone and fallen in love with the prince.
Like all of Murphy’s books (at least the ones I’ve read), Cindy is not model-thin. She’s not Target thin, either. Like in Dumplin’, it’s never really spelled out how fat Cindy is (and yes, that’s the word she uses), and again, also like in Dumplin’, I think that was a conscious choice on Murphy’s part. It allows the reader to identify with Cindy, whether she’s a size 6 who feels out of place around a bunch of size 2s, or a size 26 who feels out of place around a bunch of size 16s.
And Murphy doesn’t shy away from it either. There are a handful of scenes where Cindy is forced to change clothes for the show, but of course, nothing in the store fits her, and her frustration at the producers – who should have known ahead of time that she wouldn’t be able to find something in her size – is palpable. And completely justified. There’s a great scene where the bachelor’s mother, a famous designer, realizes that Cindy has had to rework one of her designs so it will fit her, which leads to a discussion about size inclusivity that I wish all brands would listen to.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that of course Cindy winds up with the guy. But what I liked about this story was that Cindy didn’t really change in order for that to happen. I mean, she pulled herself out of her design slump, and with her newfound fame she was able to launch her own design business, but in the end, she didn’t need the guy to do all that.
She just did all that AND got the guy, too.
Which is the best kind of happily ever after.
P.S. I follow Julie Murphy on Facebook and she is just the best. She’s a bit goofy and silly and posts all kinds of fun pictures, and her posts always make me smile.