I have loudly declared for a long time that we should have a hiatus on all Cinderella remakes. And I have rallied for a shorter time on the sad habit of Disney retreading old IP over and over again. It’s not that I am so mad about them redoing the same fairy tales all the time, but in a world where there are truly hundreds of versions of their Disney Princess tales, why not tell a fresh version of the story?
I decided to read Julie Murphy’s fat Cinderella book on a whim, having no idea it was a Disney-specific Cinderella twist. I love Julie Murphy and I needed a light audiobook while I packed for a big move. As I’m listening, I notice the stepmother’s name is Tremaine. I think, “That’s interesting, can Disney not copyright their specific names?” Then I hear that Cindy Wood’s stepsisters are named Anna and Drew and the triplet half-siblings she nannies are Jack, Mary, and Gus-Gus, and I knew I’d been HAD. Yup, there it was, right in the copyright info: published by Disney Book Groups.
Here’s the thing though: a good author can get around my most stubborn of no-nos. And Julie Murphy is a GREAT author. Her retelling cleverly pays homage to the Disney cartoon while making its own statements on life as a fat girl, reality TV culture, and relationships. She subverts some of the usual tropes, making the conflict less about sibling rivalry and jealousy between women and more about the demands of television production and getting those ratings. The romance is well-drawn out, and Cindy and Henry have great chemistry. I don’t read a lot of romance, so I didn’t know chemistry-on-the-page was possible. Jen Ponton reads it well! I liked the darn thing so much, I downloaded the next in the “Meant to Be” series, a retread of Beauty and the Beast. We’ll see if the magic continues!