I can hear Maeve Binchy’s biting social observation, quick wit, and disarming charm every time I read this tale. I was given this book as a Christmas present by my parents when I was a teenager. Binchy’s updated version of the children’s classic, throws the stereotypes under the bus, flips the narrative and points to the absolute absurdity of the original fairy-tale in a manner intended to make you guffaw out loud; and you might. Cinderella regards the upcoming ball as “mildly interesting in a sociological way” and busies herself with “doing several papers which had all come up at once in her correspondence courses”, before winning the Fairy Godmother Prize in a “silly sort of competition” in a magazine. It’s happy ever after in the end as she dismisses the Prince (“I really think you should see someone about this foot fetish you have”), and takes over running the castle, employed by the King as the new Chief Executive of Palace Enterprises, thus saving the royal family from imminent financial ruin and herself from spending any more time in the vicinity of her unpleasant sisters, whom Binchy has renamed Thunder and Lightning.
First published in Ride on Rapunzel, Fairytales for Feminists, Attic Press, 1992