Friday, August 6, 2010

A Kiss at Midnight

by Anna Sugden

I'm delighted to welcome back a huge Lair favourite, Eloisa James!

I'm sure many of you, like me, have been following her fabulous snippets about life in Paris, as she and her family spent the past year living over there. Wonderfully evocative, each piece was like being there and experiencing it along with her (without having to actually go there - joke - sort of *g*).

You'll be pleased to know that while in Paris, Eloisa was also hard at work to bring us another book. She's here today to talk about her newly released Kiss at Midnight and fairy tales.

So, without further ado, I'll hand you over to Eloisa:


Thanks, Anna. It's always fun to visit the Banditas!

I grew up on a steady diet of fairy tales. My parents read them aloud to us, and then sprinkled Arthur Lang’s Blue, Green, Brown Fairy Books around the house. But much more importantly, fairy tales truly interested my father, Robert Bly. Years later, when I was in graduate school, he wrote a long analysis of one such story, called Iron John. When I was a child, he was just breaking in the fairy tale analysis, as it were. I have a distinct memory of being challenged to give a psychological explanation of the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.

My current novel, A Kiss at Midnight, seems a natural development from my childhood; it’s my own version of Cinderella. After all, having parents who prompted me to analyze fairy stories means that I found myself wondering what on earth that prince was thinking to choose his wife at a ball? Would I accept a man who could recognize me only by the size of foot? (Answer: Absolutely not!) And just how evil was that evil stepmother?

I had a wonderful time writing A Kiss at Midnight. My heroine Kate is a feisty, funny version of Cinderella: not a victimized scullery girl, but a young woman placed in an awful situation, and making the best of it. My fairy godmother, though she doesn’t wave a wand, is just the kind of godmother we all wish we had. And the Prince…well, Gabriel turned out to have many reasons for that ball, and falling in love with Kate was not one of them. I tried to take my father’s lessons to heart: rather than creating a saccharine sweet version of the original story, I thought about the choices my characters faced. I think I succeeded; Publishers’ Weekly called A Kiss at Midnight “a candy floss comic romp around a core of heartache.”

So what’s the one element of Cinderella that you think absolutely HAS to be in a rewriting to make it worth reading? Another way of asking the same question: what’s your favorite element of the Disney movie or any other version? And—channeling my father here—why is that one element so important? The great thing about literary analysis is that there are no wrong answers, so go for it!

Eloisa has very generously offered FIVE prizes of a signed copy of Pleasure for Pleasure to five lucky commenters!!

153 comments:

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome back, Eloisa!

We love having you visit us here in the Lair. Even the GR, who is here somewhere...

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha, Eloisa! I spotted you floating through the Dolphin lobby several times at the RWA National Convention.

Welcome back from Paris - one of my favorite cities! I've lived in Benelux area twice when assigned to NATO, so Paris was only a four hour drive. We often stayed at the Cercle National Des Armees (National Officers' Club of the Armies), across form the Saint Augustine Church. It was walking distance to the L'Église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, US Embassy, and Place de la Concorde, leading to the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre Museum.

Your cover is gorgeous - no doubt marketing tried to capture the "escape by midnight" element of Cinderella. So perhaps that is what I love best about the fairy tale - you can transform yourself, even for a night. Something we should all remember ... as that night could become a lifetime!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Eloisa! A warm welcome back to the lair. Anna, thank you for bringing Eloisa to us today.

I think a Cinderella tale needs to have that element of the heroine being escaping some form of drudgery and/or cruelty and finding true love (and a little bit of luxury along with the love doesn't hurt, either!) Sometimes we'd all like to escape the hard realities of life and step into a fairytale!

Can't wait to read Kiss at Midnight!

Helen said...

Well done Aunty Cindy what are your plans for him today?

Hi Eloisa

I do live your stories and I am soo looking forward to this one Cinderella is one of my most favourite fairy tales a heroine reduced to cleaning and being treatd badly by her step family and I do love the Fairy Godmother everyone should have one and I am sure most of us do in some form or another and then the dashing hero who takes her away from all the cleaning to a wonderful life filled with passion and love. What more could a girl want.

I have to say as well I really enjoyed your time in Paris thru facebook and it must have been awful with the lift broken.

Thanks Anna for inviting Eloisa back today always a favourite.

Have Fun
Helen

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Eloisa -

How apropos that we're talking about Cinderella after returning from Disney - the home of all fairy tales as it were.

I do love Cinderella - partly because the scene of the sweet little animals and the happily chirping birds helped her to dress. That was so magical. And I love how Disney transformed that scene to urban wildlife in the more recent movie. I think the real core element, though, of the power for Cinderella for me has nothing to do with shoes or the Prince or even her happily ever after. I love that she was rewarded and elevated from her life of undeserved misfortune - and those that tomented her were made to pay for their crime. Justice, I suppose. OMG - does that mean I'm a lawyer at heart?

Love the cover. This promises to be fun.

Kirsten said...

I absolutely LOVE Cinderella and my favorite part is the kindness bestowed upon her by the Fairy godmother.

A woman gives her a gift bigger than the gown and glass slippers. She gives her faith in herself. The courage to attend the ball, a life outside her home, she’s been dreaming about. And with this comes the opportunity to meet her Prince! (I do love him even if he's a bit lacking in sight, don't you recognize the girl you saw and fell for only yesterday evening?)

Thanks to the Fairy godmother her head is held up high and she notices her own potential.
Never underestimate the power of a kind gesture! What a great difference this (and let’s not forget the right outfit) can make in a woman’s life.

Jane said...

I love fairy tales. I like how Cinderella never changed as person, she wasn't bitter even though her stepmother and stepsisters were cruel.

Buffie said...

Hey Eloisa! So nice to see you again so quickly after RWA. It was such a wonderful pleasure to meet you there :-)

My favorite element of Cinderella is that it is about an average, every day girl who finds herself the object of one extraordinary man's attention and affection. It makes me feel like ANYTHING is possible and that every single girl has a chance with a prince. I love that feeling!

gamistress66 said...

Congrats on the release. I always loved Cinderella. I think its the notion that love can find you and not be stopped, that it sees through the blah that others may see to the true hidden beauty underneath and brings it out to shine.

Anna Sugden said...

Good morning everyone!

Congrats on nabbing that rooster, AC. I'm sure he's keen to spend the day with you.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Kim - sorry we didn't connect in Orlando. I didn't manage to connect with Eloisa either. It was one of those mad conferences.

I love the idea of being able to transform yourself for a night - like we all did for the Golden Heart and RITA ceremonies (WOOOOOHOOOO to Beth!)

runner10 said...

Congrats on the new release, Eloisa!!
Cinderella is so magical. I think the music in the Disney movie brings the story to life!! Cinderella is truly a sweet, loving person. I think that captures our hearts. I wouldn't change her.

Anna Sugden said...

I think that is a magical element of Cinderella, Christine, and one that appeals to us all. We don't all have to become princess for a night, but it's nice to have that little bit of magic to make us feel we have escaped the ordinary.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Helen! I agree - I think we all have fairy godmothers, though they don't have wings and a wand necessarily. I have a little posse of them (fondly called my 'bully girls' *g*) who make the magic happen and look out for me.

And, I definitely got my prince!

Anna Sugden said...

I love all that Disney stuff too, Donna. I thought of you when I got Enchanted for my birthday - you were the one who turned me on to that movie!

I LOL at your lawyer-esque (or is the balancing of accounts more accountant-esque?!) reading of the fairy tale ... but have to disagree about one thing ... it is always about the shoes *g*.

As the plaque sent by one of my dearest friends reads 'One shoe can change your life' - though in honour of one of my favourite romcom authors, Kathleen Long, I'd have to add that it helps if you can find the matching mate!

Anna Sugden said...

Oh Kirsten - what a lovely thought about the fairy godmother giving Cinderella more than a gown and glass slippers (never could work out why you'd give someone glass shoes!).

Maybe that's what makes it such a popular basis for so many romance stories.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Jane! I wonder if Cinderella just kept those moments of moaning about her evil step-family to herself. Perhaps she kept them for the shower *g*.

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Buffie - it was so great to see you in Orlando! It's always a special pleasure to see all the Dishy Dames!

I think you've captured the essence of romance and what makes it so uplifting! No wonder sales of romances remain strong!

Anna Sugden said...

gamistress - you're so right. Love find you when you least expect it and conquers all, even when it looks as if the odds are stacked against you!

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Runner10 - I love those Disney movies for the music too. When I was little and we were in Iran seeing my mother's family, we'd go to see the movies and they'd be dubbed into Farsi for the locals - only they never dubbed the music and songs!

Deb said...

Hi, Anna and Eloisa! Thanks for the post today. It was lovely to see pics of you having fun through PJ's eyes/photos!

Congrats on the releae of AKAM, Eloisa. I really like the premise of this story and the cover is so pretty and feminine. I do like how Disney made Cinderella positive and happy, despite her circumstances. Really, isn't that true for most everyone? Make the best of it. BUT, I don't like their depiction of the evil stepmother since I am a stepmother. Was I so wicked to make my stepsons take out the garbage on Wed. nights? Or make them clean their rooms once every blue moon? Or help with dishes once a week? :)

Congrats again!!

Deb said...

Sorry, I meant pics of you at RWA...

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh wow, I have already bought and absorbed A Kiss at Midnight. It isn't signed of course. I so want that Fairy Godmother!! She was awesome.

The one aspect that has to be in a "Cinderella" story is the wicked stepmother, otherwise Cinderella wouldn't need rescuing.

Laurie said...

The MAGIC of "love conquering all"...

fairy godmothers, the breaking of spells with a kiss....

Lee Lopez said...

One of the greatest elements of Cinderilla is the ability to adapt and survive. She's been through a tough time, and now is stuck in a bad situation. But she does adapt, and grows and eventually wins the heart of the hero..Can't get much better then that.

Janga said...

I love AKAM! I much prefer Kate to the traditional passive Cinderella, and Gabriel, who thinks and feels as well as dances, is an immeasurable improvement over the conventional prince.

I think a Cinderella isolated within the family unit is the most essential ingredient of the tale. The usual sources of emotional support have to be missing to make her plight severe enough to require a magical solution. And I prefer Henry's magic of love and acceptance to wand waving.

Consider me ineligible for the book win. I have four copies of Pleasure for Pleasure (my favorite EJ novel), including a signed copy--and one in French. :)

Margay said...

There are so many elements that have to be in there to truly make it a "Cinderella" story, but I think my personal favorite is the whole ball scene. It is just fantastic.
Margay

Louisa Cornell said...

Aunty got the GR !! He is in need of some discipline after his rowdy behavior at Nationals!

Hello, Eloisa!

I followed your Paris adventures on Facebook and truly enjoyed them.

What one element has to be included in a rewrite of Cinderella? Goodness that is a tough one. I LOVE that fairy tale, every little bit of it. I've sung the role in both the musical and the opera and it really is a magical part to play.

I think the idea of a man falling in love with a woman almost at first sight (even if he doesn't know it) and then learning that no other woman will do has to be included. There is just something wonderful about a heart deciding who it wants and moving heaven and earth to find her.

Virginia said...

Welcome Eloisa, I love your books. I guess with me and Cinderella is I love the rags to riches story. Its just something about a person going from having nothing to being rich and living happy ever after!

Congrats on the rooster Aunty Cindy!

Cybercliper said...

You’re gonna think this is twisted, but my Mom (who I love completely) – a hillbilly with a 3rd grade education watched Cinderella with me when I was about 11 or 12. Afterwards she told me not to believe in a Cinderella or a Prince Charming. That stories like that were created a long time ago by men and were a way for them to tell a woman starting at a young age how she was supposed to act and be.

Mom said that if Cinderella had dumped the mop water on all of them, then broke the mop handle across their backs and lit out on her own she wouldn’t need no Prince to take care of her. She could have been a maid for hire and took care of herself.

Well, I took Mom’s words to heart about taking care of myself but I still love fairy tales and for me as long as good eventually triumphs, evil is vanquished, and there’s a hot prince wondering around somewhere, I’ll always love a good fairy tale. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

Eloisa James said...

HI everybody!

It's alway so much fun to visit the bandits--thank you for inviting me. I think it's fascinating that we all see so many sides to a simple fairy tale--I guess that's part of its power.

Kirsten, yours is a particular eloquent celebration of the (fairy) godmother-- I love it!

And Cybercliper, your mom sounds like a woman after my own heart. I'm trying to teach my daughter that Cinderella needn't wait around for a prince to come; she can rent a horse and ride away on her own. *g*

I'll be back later, so if you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask! Eloisa

Mina said...

Cinderella wouldn't be Cinderella without her positive attitude. Though she gets down, when offered a way up, she takes it, hopeful, and trusting.

Take hope and trust away and you don't have Cinderella.

Jane L said...

Welcome back Eloisa. Although Following your adventure was so entertaining! LOL!

Cinderella, oh what a classic and I agree a woman should not need a man to ride up and sweep her away but I think all women like to have a little bit of the prince charming in their lives. Someone who treats them special and sees the good in them no matter how bad life can get. Having that "first" with your special person. The first dance, first kiss, first touch.... hmmmm... Ok I am a hopeless romantic! Have a great day ladies!

ChrisTina said...

Eloisa,
Love following you on FB!
I think Cinderella offers potential of the happy ever after that allows escape and reminds us that -- at least for this moment -- virtue is rewarded and evil defeated. It is the ultimate comfort of (again, escapist) narrative. It is also called hope or faith or belief or magic or dreams.

ChrisTina said...

Eloisa,
Love following you on FB!
I think Cinderella offers potential of the happy ever after that allows escape and reminds us that -- at least for this moment -- virtue is rewarded and evil defeated. It is the ultimate comfort of (again, escapist) narrative. It is also called hope or faith or belief or magic or dreams.

heidi said...

hi eloisa

i love your books there brilliant cant wait to read more you enthrall your fans very well and leave us all wanting more,

Beth said...

Welcome back, Eloisa! Love your cover and the story sounds fabulous *g*

To me, a Cinderella story must have the heroine realizing that she is so much more than she ever thought. That it doesn't matter how other people define you - it's all about how you define yourself :-)

Thanks for being with us today!

heidi said...

i wish some of you amazing writters would come to britian i live in cardiff in south wales and adore all romance books love my happy endings, but no good authors ever come hear id personaly be in line along with loads of other fans

heidi

Karla said...

:) hi! :) i love your books, to be honest, i am a romanceaholic. having worked nights for so long, and even before that, well, i have been romantically challenged forever. my parents were a blind date. my family history is, well, couples stay together... i guess my favorite part of cinderella, & other disney movies, is that despite any challenges, true love triumphs & they live happily ever after. i know that happily ever after has ups & downs, but, someday, i hope to have my happily ever after even if my "prince" has to knock me upside the head & wear me down...

Sam said...

Hi Eloisa! I am currently reading A Kiss At Midnight and thoroughly enjoying it (as all your books!)

I think Cinderella is almost like the ugly duckling who turns into a beautiful swan although she was never ugly to begin with. It's all in her attitude and how she takes in life.

Free Your Creative Mind! said...

Hi Eloisa!

I enjoy the mystery of the Prince searching for the perfect owner of the glass slipper.

Can't wait to read your latest!

Kelly

Anna Sugden said...

It's great that PJ is so good with her camera, isn't it, Deb. I know all of us enjoy catching up with the Dishy Dames.

LOL as a fellow step-mother, I know what you mean. We're just misunderstood!

DenaliO5 said...

A year or two back, I watched Julie Andrews as Cinderella, and the fairy godmother depicted in that version of the classic tale is a gem. The song "Impossible" sums up a core value in the Cinderella story--a heroine overcoming seemingly impossible odds. And folderol is such a fun word!

I was on tour guide duties when A Kiss at Midnight came out (a college friend visited from the mainland and expected me to take her to a minimum of five places each day while doing all the driving), but once I had some time for myself, I read your latest book this past weekend on my nook, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The creative way you incorporated the glass slippers was fantastic. Stiffened taffeta!

Best wishes as you conclude our sabbatical and return to the daily grind.

courtney said...

I Love Cinderella! My favorte part of the story is the friendship Cinderella has with the animals. The mice are my favorite.

Anna Sugden said...

Oh Dianna - how did you manage to get your copy so quickly?! The Amazon pigeon is holed up somewhere with mine - he'd better not be turning down the page corners!

I think we need to see the story from the evil stepmother's point of view - I bet it would be very different! *g*

Anna Sugden said...

I like the idea of a fairy godmother who could give me cool shoes with the twitch of her wand ... then again, I have a lovely hubby who does that *g*.

Anna Sugden said...

Uh - that was in reply to Laurie ... teach me to press post too fast!

Anna Sugden said...

You're so right, Lee. It's that never say die and never moan when the times are tough attitude that makes her so cool!

T.M. Lunsford said...

I think one of the most important elements of the Cinderella story is the fairy godmother. She's like Plan B- if things don't work out with the prince, you still know that there is the possibility for Cinderella to escape the drudgery. Plus, in most retelling (AKAM included) she provides a wonderfully comedic element that I adore.

Anna Sugden said...

Another one to be jealous of, Janga! I wonder what I must do to tempt that bloody pigeon to deliver already?

Interesting thought about the lack of the usual emotional supports. That is a key ingredient indeed.

Anna Sugden said...

Nothing like a fabulous ball, Margay. Of course, the ones in the movies are never like the ones in real life ... at least, not the ones I've been to!

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Louisa *waving*

That love at first sight, no-one else will do is enough to make you sigh happily, isn't it? And, it does happen in real life too.

On the other hand, I like the whole sticking to the mean girls thing too LOL

heidi said...

i remember when i went to florida had a brilliant time in disney,

i wish i had my owncprince charming to whisk me away but hey you can dream,

am 22 now and still love disney and the films i get called a baby all the time aw well

Anna Sugden said...

The rags to riches (both physical and emotional) is so appealing, Virginia. Like The Little Princess, I think the idea of the riches to rags to riches is compelling too.

Anna Sugden said...

Cyberclipper - your mum has a very modern and progressive view for a mother! I like her thinking - she sounds like my kinda gal!

I guess that's why I loved the Stockard Channing role in Grease more than the ONJ role *g*.

Anna Sugden said...

Yay - glad to see Eloisa emerging from the packing boxes and bubble wrap! Sends shivers down my spine just thinking about moving and unpacking.

Anna Sugden said...

I'm a great believer in PMA, Mina (positive mental attitude). Luckily, my posse is always around to make sure I keep positive even when the world is against me.

And Cindy had her animal pals and fairy godmother to help her.

Anna Sugden said...

Nothing wrong with being a helpless romantic, Jane L. It's the dream of that happy ever after that keeps even the most cynical among us from persevering.

Anna Sugden said...

Always good to see Good vanquishing Evil, Chris Tina. You're right - it gives us hope in today's world!

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome, Heidi. Great to see another big fan of Eloisa's books here in our Lair.

I keep trying to convince the fabulous writers (Banditas, Bandita Buddies and our fab guests) to come over here too. Perhaps one day you can have a special trip over to the US to the RWA national conference and its amazing Literacy signing, where over 500 authors sign their books. Next year is in New York!

Anna Sugden said...

You've hit the nail on the head, Beth - she is so much more than she ever thought! And more than other people's definition of her. - a cool lesson for us all.

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome, Karla. You know, here in the Lair we're great believers in romance and the happy ever after. And I know for a fact that love can show up when you least expect it! Keep the faith and you never know!

Anna Sugden said...

Hmm - I think some of you girls have been tempting that pigeon with bribes. Another one with Eloisa's book, Sam!

I like your thought of combining the Ugly Duckling with Cinderella!

Anna Sugden said...

The prince's search for his one true love is a cool part of the story, Kelly - it makes us all feel hopeful and optimistic, willing him to succeed. And, like all good story-tellers, there is that moment of horror when the step-sisters don't play nice!

Grettel said...

Hi!
Greetings from Costa Rica.
Hope to read soon the new book.
What I really like from Cinderella stories is the fact that the heroine has the inner breauty that could make the right person fall in love with her. No matter the "dress" she'd be wearing, the prince would see her as his princess.

TerriOsburn said...

I was fortunate to get a copy of this one signed at Nationals last week and it was great to see you again, Eloisa. Though I always feel short and poorly dressed when you're around. LOL!

I think I like Drew Barrymore's version Ever After the best, because she saves herself. It's romantic because he comes to his senses, doesn't need a shoe to find her, and it gung-ho to rescue her. He just doesn't have to. :)

That's a powerful message for young girls. As Eloisa says, get your own horse and ride off whenever you want. Or go find your Prince instead of waiting for him to find you.

No need to put me in the drawing, but how exciting to have FIVE winners!

Maggie said...

Loved your books especially Kiss at Midnight!

Susan Sey said...

Hello, Eloisa! Welcome to the lair! And thanks, Anna, for hosting!

I have to admit, Cinderella's never been my favorite fairy tale. Neither she nor the prince seemed very...I don't know...active? They seemed very passive, subject to the forces moving around them, True Love being one of them.

I suppose if I wanted to keep something from the original story, I'd keep the meteoric rise from poverty to impossible wealth, from true desperation to utter happiness. It would be fun to see that happen to characters who were really trying to help themselves instead of just being carried along.

Everything else? I'd be open to change.

Hope A Kiss at Midnight is a smashing success!

Parinda said...

I think the important element is to have that happy ending. Not the forever kind but that ending that leaves u with a good feeling. Because it gives a person hope and a push to be true to yourself (usual Disney theme) and get out there and achieve it :)

Toni Anderson said...

Love Cinderella stories :)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Everyone!

Great to see everyone back in the Lair and some new faces too. WELCOME TO ALL!

The GR has been gorging himself on chocolate (he must have found my secret stash) and trying to shove his claw into this toy glass slipper I bought for my grandniece. It is NOT a pretty sight, lemme tell ya! :-P

I LOVE all the different aspects of the Cinderella story you are all bringing up. I myself love the transformation with the help of the fairy godmother. But really, that was just a boost to Cindy's self-confidence, right? I can really identify with that! LOL!

AC

Minna said...

It's nice to be able to use the internet again! We had a bit of a thunderstorm day before yesterday. The electricity was gone for hours, cell phone connection and the internet didn't start to work until today and now there are a lot of unhappy forest/home/summer cottage/house trailer owners due to fallen trees.

My favorite element of the story is the part where she leaves the nasty and jealous stepsisters and stepmother behind to start a new life.

Lelani Black said...

Eloisa, you're my hero, lol! I'm one read away from completing your Desperate Duchesses series. Most appealing to me about Disney's Cinderella story is how Cinderella's sweetness and sincerity gains her the love and loyalty of all, from the smallest most humble of creatures, to the love of a powerful prince. While the gown made her "someone" for that one night, it didn't change who she was inside; a gentle-hearted and kind person.

MsHellion said...

I loved this book--I could tell you had a good romp writing it! I cackled over so many of the one-liners. I wanted to call people just so I could share the lines (but since they're not readers, the humor would have been lost.) Fortunately I was able to email someone who'd read it and enjoyed the same lines. *LOL*

The element that must be in every Cinderella story? Why the part where she gets her HEA of course.

Becket Hampton Warren said...

Hello, Eloisa!

You did a fabulous job with the Cinderella story: I love all of the familiar, time-honored features: the step-sister, the godmother, the stiffened fabric "glass slippers".... It doesn't get any better than this!

I think my favorite element in Cinderella will always be the stepsister(s). Whether she is a true self-serving, victimizing harpy (as in most versions of the fairy tale) or a kinder but clueless accessory-after-the-fact to Cinderella's plight (as with Victoria), the step-sister character is necessary to define the heroine and to advance the plot. She acts as a foil to the Cinderella character and gives the reader a yardstick by which to measure "Cindy's" (or Kate's) forcibly-reduced social status as well as her moral fiber/inherent goodness in the face of deprivation. She also either echos her mother (the evil step-mother) in tone or provides a middle ground in the household, but either way, she is, wittingly or unwittingly, an interloper and usurper.

*SPOILER ALERT* Kate's sharpness, physically, mentally, and emotionally, contrast beautifully with Victoria's simpler, softer, indistinct edges. I've always thought Cinderella was a bit of a damp rag, a character who could use a little more backbone. Your version of the fairy tale is easier to swallow because Kate is acting in defense of other people's (people who are dependent upon her family's patronage or employment) continued well-being. But your version works in equal measure because of how you've written Victoria's character. Kate agrees to come to her rescue, take her place at Algie's side, not merely because of her horrid stepmother's threats against the staff and estate tenants, but because she realizes that Victoria, for all her shortcomings, hasn't a vindictive, cruel bone in her soft little body.

I love the way you complicated the relationship between the girls by revealing Victoria's illegitimacy. That, added to her blithe and slightly vapid yet ultimately well-meaning nature makes her both more interesting than a typical "meanie" fairy-tale version of the step-sister and more complex (if such a term can be applied to Victoria!). Victoria has displaced Kate as coddled daughter of the household, but she'll never be legitimate, as Kate is. [ I also love the genuinely-bejeweled Coco--and sweet, dumb Freddie, and brash Caesar--do I see echos of Milo anywhere... or is he a pickle-eater? :)]

As the novel progresses, the reader gets to know Kate's frivolous step- (now half-) sister better and better. And every detail you reveal about Victoria stands in stark contrast to Kate, making Kate look more attractive, wittier, prettier--without materially detracting from Victoria's charms, such as they are (there's no accounting for taste!). By the time Victoria arrives at the castle, we know her very well indeed and want the best for her and her equally clueless fiance (though we cannot say the same for her dreadful mother). That Kate can love Victoria, despite the years after their father's death that Victoria spent living pampered and provided for as Kate deserved to be, attests to Kate's strength of character. It's this strength that Gabriel finds irresistible. Victoria, like Coco, just wants to be petted and crooned over; she gets what she wants by the end of the novel. Kate yearns to live more fully in every sense of the word; she too realizes her dreams by the end--after all, this is romance!

Henry, as Kate's fairy godmother (another "gotta-have" story element), has no magic wand, but she has excellent horse sense and a way of calling a spade a spade that Kate can and does emulate. The lovely, re-imagined fairy tale closes with Kate and Gabriel living their wonderful happily-ever-after; the pair (plus their son) has journeyed to match the prince's archaeological passion with their passion for life and each other.

Thank you for the delicious summer read!

Becket Hampton Warren said...

Hello, Eloisa!

You did a fabulous job with the Cinderella story: I love all of the familiar, time-honored features: the step-sister, the godmother, the stiffened fabric "glass slippers".... It doesn't get any better than this!

I think my favorite element in Cinderella will always be the stepsister(s). Whether she is a true self-serving, victimizing harpy (as in most versions of the fairy tale) or a kinder but clueless accessory-after-the-fact to Cinderella's plight (as with Victoria), the step-sister character is necessary to define the heroine and to advance the plot. She acts as a foil to the Cinderella character and gives the reader a yardstick by which to measure "Cindy's" (or Kate's) forcibly-reduced social status as well as her moral fiber/inherent goodness in the face of deprivation. She also either echos her mother (the evil step-mother) in tone or provides a middle ground in the household, but either way, she is, wittingly or unwittingly, an interloper and usurper.

*SPOILER ALERT* Kate's sharpness, physically, mentally, and emotionally, contrast beautifully with Victoria's simpler, softer, indistinct edges. I've always thought Cinderella was a bit of a damp rag, a character who could use a little more backbone. Your version of the fairy tale is easier to swallow because Kate is acting in defense of other people's (people who are dependent upon her family's patronage or employment) continued well-being. But your version works in equal measure because of how you've written Victoria's character. Kate agrees to come to her rescue, take her place at Algie's side, not merely because of her horrid stepmother's threats against the staff and estate tenants, but because she realizes that Victoria, for all her shortcomings, hasn't a vindictive, cruel bone in her soft little body.

The contrast makes both characters come alive.

Becket Hampton Warren said...

I also love the way you complicated the relationship between the girls by revealing Victoria's illegitimacy. That, added to her blithe and slightly vapid yet ultimately well-meaning nature makes her both more interesting than a typical "meanie" fairy-tale version of the step-sister and more complex (if such a term can be applied to Victoria!). Victoria has displaced Kate as coddled daughter of the household, but she'll never be legitimate, as Kate is. [ I also love the genuinely-bejeweled Coco--and sweet, dumb Freddie, and brash Caesar--do I see echos of Milo anywhere... or is he a pickle-eater? :)]

As the novel progresses, the reader gets to know Kate's frivolous step- (now half-) sister better and better. And every detail you reveal about Victoria stands in stark contrast to Kate, making Kate look more attractive, wittier, prettier--without materially detracting from Victoria's charms, such as they are (there's no accounting for taste!). That Kate can love Victoria, despite the years after their father's death that Victoria spent living pampered and provided for as Kate deserved to be, attests to Kate's strength of character. It's this strength that Gabriel finds irresistible. Victoria, like Coco, just wants to be petted and crooned over; she gets what she wants by the end of the novel. Kate yearns to live more fully in every sense of the word; she too realizes her dreams by the end--after all, this is romance!

Henry, as Kate's fairy godmother (another "gotta-have" story element), has no magic wand, but she has excellent horse sense and a way of calling a spade a spade that Kate can and does emulate. The lovely, re-imagined fairy tale closes with Kate and Gabriel living their wonderful happily-ever-after; the pair (plus their son) has journeyed to match the prince's archaeological passion with their passion for life and each other.

Thank you for the delicious summer read!

FireFly said...

I believe that the most important part was her character. I just asked my almost 7 year old granddaughter what was the most important thing about Cinderella & she said: she was kind, good, brave, & she was pretty from the inside out.

Becket Hampton Warren said...

Anna! I don't know why it posted my comment twice/thrice! I really didn't mean to be a blog hog, especially in my first-ever post! Sorry...

catslady said...

I must have a mean streak but the bad guys have to get their comeuppance in the end :)

Gannon Carr said...

Hi, Eloisa! Love, love, loved this book!!!!

I've always enjoyed the "overcoming the obstacles" aspect of the Cinderella tale. Escaping the drudgery to spend a night at the ball with her prince. Going back to said drudgery, and despite all the odds, winning her prince. Who wouldn't love that?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, guys, I'm BAAAACCCCKKKK! Hope you all played nice while I was away. Hmm, my spies have informed me otherwise. AC, will you lend me the crop? Bwahahahahahahaha!

Anna Campbell said...

Eloisa, always lovely to see you in the lair. The new book sounds absolutely fantastic - and congratulations on the New York Times showing! Does that ever get old? I can't imagine it would! Lovely to see you, albeit briefly, at RWA. I really enjoyed conference. I hope you did too.

Suzie said...

The most essential element, in my mind, is the rags-to-riches element. Cinderella must start out disadvantaged and should, by the end of the novel, be in a considerably better situation. This is what sets people daydreaming, I think. So many of us live on what we can scrape by and it's lovely to fantasize about falling in love with royalty and finding the life you were meant to live (naturally as royalty yourself); a life where your days are easier. A happily ever after.

Anna Campbell said...

As a woman who always bases her stories on fairytales, this is something I've thought long and hard about. I actually think most writers have one myth/fairytale that they always return to - mine is Beauty and the Beast. My critique partner, the fabulous Annie West, is a Cinderella girl. You can pretty much find Cinders in every story of hers I've ever written. The weird thing is that while Cinders is the base story, the variety of what Annie does with it is astonishing.

The part of the story that is non-negotiable is that Cinders gets the prince. Or at least it is for me. The Australian Ballet did a republican version of C a few years ago and Cinders ended up with the valet because the prince was a prat. Bleuch! All that hard work in the stepmother's house and C goes off for a life of drudgery with another servant. No way, Jose! Just didn't work for me (actually overtly political messages never work particularly well for me, I have to say - usually subtlety goes out the window the minute dogma comes in).

amaebi said...

The part of the story that's troubled me for years is Ella's father's culpability, and the lack of responsibility assigned him by the storyteller. (Of course the shoe thing doesn't work literally without fetish being involved-- but as an image for Something Distinctive I think it works all right)

Mary Ann

nataleebinda said...

Eloisa, I have thoroughly enjoyed you version of Cinderella and loved every bit of it. Being part German, I grew up with the Brothers Grimm. We European's are sent from early childhood to plays, operas and other theatrical productions. In my head I always wanted to be the Princess who fell in love with the handsome peasant who secretly was Prince Charming in disguise. Perhaps he will lose a shoe......

Anna Sugden said...

DenaliO5 - you're another one teasing me with your copy of AKAM! You people have no feelings!

There have been lots of adaptations of the Cinderella story over the years - I think it's fun to see how they bring the story right up to date.

Anna Sugden said...

You're right, TM, the fairy godmother can provide a fabulous comedic element ... especially those ones who do it subtly!

Anna Sugden said...

For years I wondered why I never could get animals to talk, Courtney. I think animals are a pretty good judge of character, don't you?!

That's another thing I love about Enchanted - the animals who come to help her LOL.

Anna Sugden said...

Oooh Costa Rica! Welcome to the Lair, Grettel!

It's that inner beauty thing which makes all romances like the Cinderella story appealing. I think it's because we all have things about ourselves we dislike, but our prince can see through all of that.

Anna Sugden said...

You were one of the lucky ones last week, then Terri - I couldn't get near Eloisa at the signing!

I like the quote from Pretty Woman about the knight rescuing the princess in her tower and her rescuing him right back ... and the version Diane Keaton tells in Baby Boom!

Anna Sugden said...

Which is your favourite of Eloisa's books Maggie?

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Susan - I guess, as the saying goes, it's all in the execution!

So which is your favourite fairy tale?

Anna Sugden said...

We're all about the happy/optimistic ending, here in the Lair, Parinda. Whether it's for romance, the first sale, the first slot on the NYT, the first RITA ... we all want to be able to celebrate success!

Anna Sugden said...

Which is your favourite Cinderella version, Toni?

Anna Sugden said...

Oh yes, AC - it was all there before, Cindy just needed the perfect shoes to bring it out LOL (at least, that's my interpretation of it!)

Minna said...

I remember how the teacher's made a play, a Cinderfella version of this story for the school's Christmas party.

Although I like the Cinderdella story, I must say I prefer stories where the heroines have a bit more active role. Like the one where the prince is a bird part of the day and a tree the rest of the time until this girl comes and saves him. I'm not sure how the story went excatly, it's been a long time since I read it last time and I don't have that story in the Grimms' Fairy Tales book I have.

Anna Sugden said...

Oh no! Can't stand being without internet, Minna. Glad you're safe even if all around you is a mess.

Anna Sugden said...

Ooh Lelani - you're in for a treat with the final book in the DD series (though I do have a particular and well-known fondness for Villiers).

Anna Sugden said...

Not you too, Hellion! You're forgiven because your description of how you felt on reading AKAM makes you the best kind of reader.

I'm sure I'll feel the same when the blasted pigeon deigns to deliver!

Anna Sugden said...

No Fair, Becket! I didn't want to see what you wrote in your spoiler, so I'll have to just say I'm glad you enjoyed the book and Eloisa's fabulous writing. One day, when my book has come, I'll pop back and read what your wrote!

Anna Sugden said...

What a smart girl your grand-daughter is, Firefly! Must take after her Nana.

Anna Sugden said...

Not a problem, Becket - Blogger can be funny like that. You're welcome to come and post as often as you like! Hope you enjoy your visit to the Lair!

regencygirl01 said...

Yes, I love Josie!!
My favorite element of Cinderella is magic. The magic of a first glance or a touch or that first kiss. I also like the way Cinderella pulls herself up and goes for what she wants, but she is also compassionate.

Anna Sugden said...

See catslady - I don't think you're mean at all. I love that the baddies get what's coming to them!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Gannon - you're right, who wouldn't love that? And even better that she gets a palace full of servants to take care of her drudgery! I'd settle for just one, of course LOL.

Anna Sugden said...

Glad to see you're back, Anna - though sad that we're no longer on the same continent. Can't wait until next year to see you again!

LOL about the republican version of the story - do these people not get it? As lovely as the valet may have been, and as much of a prat as the prince may have been, you don't mess with a winning formula!

Eloisa James said...

I'm back from a sweltering walk in the NYC city heat to the Board of Education (gotta get those pesky kids educated)...only to find they were closed. waaah!

At any rate, I perked up a lot reading these lovely compliments -- thank you!

Becket, I was utterly fascinated reading your analysis of my book. You were spot on--thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

And Anna C, I had a great time at conference, thank you! I only wish I'd had time for a Disney park, but so it goes.

Anna Sugden said...

What most people call the lottery factor, Suzie. Which is why they enter every week - just in case.

I still think it comes back to her getting lots and lots of nice shoes *g*

Anna Sugden said...

You know, Amebi, that bothered me too - though in most versions, he's passed on to avoid that particular bit of bother.

Then again, we all know that men can be fools in love/lust!

Anna Sugden said...

Ah yes, Natalee - love the prince in disguise theme too. That's kind of the reverse of the Cinders story, because she sees the real him through his disguise (and lucks out on the whole prince thing too!)

Anna Sugden said...

As a Brit, I enjoy pantomime version of Cinderella, Minna. They're always very entertaining!

Anna Sugden said...

I love the magic too, regency01. I wish there were more books with the light touch of magic in them.

Melody Shamtoob said...

Hi Eloisa! Welcome back!!!! I'm really excited for your new book. I love and adore fairy tales what girl doesn't? Cinderella is a classic I'm interested to see your twist and take on it. What's always intrigued me about the story is the Fairy G-dmother element who grants her her one wish. I'm interested to see your version. I always found it romantic yet oddly strange and hilarious how the Prince goes about finding his mysterious girl through the glass slipper. Ha. If only I could find a prince through a glass slipper! lol Can't wait to get my hands on this one and I'm especially looking forward to your next fairy tale installment. So excited!

-Melody

Kim said...

The books sounds great! I can't wait to read it.

Mara said...

I always loved the pumpkin coach ! It sounded so beautiful, and I liked the idea that nature was helping Cinderella. As if all the things we need are around us, we just have to know how to use them and with a little fairy magic you can do just that!


moonfire1485@yahoo.com

misskallie2000 said...

Hi Eloisa,
Cinderella is my favorite story and has been since I first read 60 yrs ago. In fact I think I still have the original book packed up somewhere. I think every little girl dreams of her Prince Charming but alas, Prince Charming is only a dream so you must look for a real guy not a dream. I love your cover and can't wait to read your story. Thanks for stopping by to chat with us.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Melanie said...

For me, the element that has to be there is that Cinderella over comes the stepmother and sisters. It's great if she gets the prince too, but the overcoming adversity to come into her own power is important. From the Disney movie, the moment for me that just does it, is when she fits the shoe perfectly. No muss no fuss, it fits end of story. It's important because without that element, it's just another romance story. It's just another boy meets girl thing. When that shoe fits, it's like a pie in the face of stepmother and stepsisters who thought her nothing but an ordinary servant to them.

Melanie said...

My favorite movie though, Disney or the Television show version, is Beauty and the Beast. I do love the way it's forbidden, yet they can't fight the attraction between them. How she sees in him something no others took the time to notice. *sigh* I love it!

Kristen said...

I would have probably used the struggle between the sisters and their quest for love.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

I am loving your take on Cinderella--it would already be finished if I didn't have little people tugging on me for such inconsequential things as food and water.

I'll confess, the Disney version of Cinderella isn't necessarily my favorite, but I think that's because I hate housework so much that I can't imagine doing it cheerfully. (Same problem with their version of Snow White BTW)

That said, I think the most important element of the tale is for her to come close (the mice make a dress), to lose heart completely, and then to discover that one person who loves her and wants to see her do well.

And I can't wait to see how your version ends up. I may lock myself in the closet now that it's Friday and the husband is home for taking care of the kiddies!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Have to agree that the part of Cinderella is in the transformation but, for me, it is that the heroine is something on the inside that her soul mate sees, under the physical appearance.

Loved A Kiss btw.

Peace, Julie

Jax Cassidy said...

What a great interview! I've always loved Cinderella and can't wait to read this book :)

chey said...

My favourite part of Cinderella is when the prince comes around with the glass slipper and it fits.

Barbara E. said...

I think the most important element of the tale is that she's everything he ever wanted and he's everything she ever wanted, and of course, they live happily ever after. The rest can go any way you want, but I have to say I always loved those little mice in the Disney story.
I can't wait to read A Kiss at Midnight, I'm really looking forward to it.

karrie said...

Hi Elosia

I have to admit that, Kiss could be fav book of yours yet.

My favorite element of any fairy- tale is anything and everything is possible, and will happen. Sometimes it's just a simple wish, or just the kindeness of others (or god mothers).

Theresa Wallace-Lopez said...

What fun it has been to hear your "Europeon Vacation" stories. Recently, a matre'd made the waiter switch napkins for your party - because you were not "visitors" but natives and needed the good napkins. You have a gift for including us in your stories - making us feel like natives and not visitors. Thank you.

s7anna said...

I think what draws me into a fairy tale over and over is the protagonist's ability to overcome turbulent times and find a HEA.

I grew up on a steady diet of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimms and Aesop's Fables - have always been fascinated by the stories.

cathy said...

To be a Cinderella story, I think the main character has to be downtrodden and find true love in the end.

Pat Cochran said...

Love Cinderella. And I love seeing
her rise above where the stepmother
and cruel sisters are trying to
keep her - in the scullery! She's
an example for us all! Be all that
you can be! (To quote a U.S. armed
service!)

Pat Cochran

Siobhan said...

We all know that the most important part of the Disney version is the talking mice! Gus was my absolute favorite. I could watch the scene where he is gathering up the corn pieces while being chased by Lucifer for hours. (I actually have. Our original VHS was completely worn out and would not work. Thank goodness for DVD's!)

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome, Melody. That one wish is a toughie, isn't it?! I bet we'd have enough trouble narrowing it down to three for the genie in the lamp, let alone one!

Anna Sugden said...

Yes it does, Kim ... hopefully that Amazon pigeon will be here soon.

Anna Sugden said...

That's a nice thought, Mara - using what's around us to help. Again, makes me think of Enchanted!

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Misskallie - are you saying princes aren't real guys too? Given our royal family, I was beginning to wonder about that too, but the younger generation is restoring my faith.

Anna Sugden said...

You sound like a true romantic Melanie. Yes, it's the little things rather than the grand gestures that can make a HEA so poignant ... though I bet there's nothing wrong with a grand gesture either!

Anna Sugden said...

That's why I'm interested in hearing the other side of this story, Kristen. I bet the sisters have a different angle on the whole thing.

Anna Sugden said...

Oh no, Sally! Nothing worse than others interfering with your reading time! LOL. I knew I'd found my Prince Charming when I discovered he liked to read as much as I do!

Anna Sugden said...

Not you rubbing it in too, Julie! Aargh! Glad you enjoyed the story though *pout*.

Looks like we all like the thought that our special someone can see beyond the obvious to the real person inside.

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome Jax! I can't wait either - especially after all these people rubbing my nose in the fact that they have the book!

Anna Sugden said...

It is a happy sigh moment, Chey, isn't it?

Anna Sugden said...

Another vote for the cute talking mice! Just goes to show, Barbara E, that it makes a difference who your pals are!

Anna Sugden said...

Karrie! You're being a meanie too?! *sigh*

Oh well, at least you followed that up with a lovely comment about anything being possible - when we stop believing in that, then what hope is there for people?

Anna Sugden said...

Even though I'm definitely no fan of Paris, I've loved Eloisa's little snippets about her life in Paris too. Almost made me change my mind about the place and the people ... almost!

Anna Sugden said...

Those are the big three, aren't they s7anna? Though, I must admit, I do like the Japanese anime stories these days too. Studio Ghibli knows how to turn out a good story - probably why Disney partnered with them.

Anna Sugden said...

Glad to see another vote for the heroine overcoming the odds, Cathy!

Anna Sugden said...

You're right, Pat - it is so important that we all take that lesson and try to be all that we can be!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Siobhan - a woman after my own heart. Don't we all just adore Gus?!

Two of my favourite heroes in Disney movies are Tramp and O'Malley ... oh and I have a special soft spot for Thumper.

Anna Sugden said...

Phew! Thanks for joining in the fun yesterday, everyone. Will be back soon with the prize winners ... may have to get my helpful cats to pick!

Holly said...

This book looks really good - can't wait to read it.
I love reading well re-written fairy tales.

Susan Anne Mason said...

What I like about fairy tales, especially Cinderella, is that the lofty prince sees through the clothes to the real beauty inside the girl.

The message being you can be a lowly cinder girl and still attract royalty!

Of course it helps to have a Fairy Godmother! Wouldn't we all like one of those!

Your book looks wonderful, Eloisa. Keep churning them out for the readers!

Sue
sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

kay_kay_77 said...

Eloisa,
this was the first book of yours that i have read, and i must say i absolutly loved it. i wont lie to you i was a little iffy at first but it turned out to be one of the best books i have read i quickly told all of my friends about it and they are all reading it for them selves i cant wait to read more of your work.
sincerly kirstien