Weekend Reads #68: Cinderella

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This weekend’s post is inspired by a Weekly Writer Wisdom post I saw on Sara Letourneau’s blog that asks:

What stories (novels, myths, legends, etc.) have taken up residence in your soul? How or why do you think they moved you to this degree? Has a story ever inspired you to do something new or different, change your worldview, etc.? Is this something you hope to accomplish with your own work?

Instead of focusing on several books/stories that have resonated with me, I’ll instead discuss one that has stuck with me since the first time I read it as a child, Cinderella.

We’re all familiar with this fairy tale about a girl who’s abused by her evil step-mother, attends a ball with the help of her fairy god mother, and is later rescued from her horrible life by a charming prince. I can’t recall having the story read to me, but I do recall reading it over and over again as a kid.

I lived in Jamaica with my aunt at the time, and my copy of the story was published by Little Golden Book. It was the Disney version of the story. I forgot how I acquired the book, but I read it so often that the cover got smudged, the pages bent, and the book almost fell apart. But I never parted with it. I even brought it with me when I immigrated to the U.S. as a teen. (It’s around here, somewhere.)

The story resonated with me because it’s basically about an orphan who has a horrid life but wishes for something better and is later rescued. As I kid, and even now, I hoped the same for myself. My life wasn’t awful back then, though my crazy imagination often dramatized it. And it isn’t awful now either.

Back then, my parents lived in the states, working to send back money to us, and I missed them terribly. I hated housework and as a girl in a Caribbean household, you are expected to cook and clean. I despised doing so, especially on Saturdays when my boy cousins would watch TV and play and I’d have to hand-wash clothes and help with breakfast. I thought I was indeed a Cinderella, and I yearned for my parents to rescue me and fly me away to that magical land of opportunities, where I’m sure there’d be no house chores.

And still I wish to be rescued.

I now have my parents (I love them, but they are annoying) and am older, but am sometimes so burdened by my student loans that I wish, hope, yearn (beg) for relief that I doubt will come. I no longer think of myself as a Cinderella, but, like her, I do wish to be rescued from my situation.

Apart from relating to her when I was a kid, I also loved the magic and whimsy in the story. The Disney version isn’t as gruesome as the original fairy tale, but it hints at some darkness in the story through Cinderella’s mistreatment and that slight, underlying darkness also interested me. Since I had no other books like Cinderella, I entertained myself back then by writing my own. I don’t know if that’s how my love of writing came about, but it’s one of the many starting points I can remember.

My stories back then were basically rip-offs of Cinderella with different names given to the characters. They were often set in Jamaica. Even now, the stories I imagine are often influenced by the fairy tale. I guess Cinderella has been ingrained in my imagination.

It has also greatly influenced the types of stories I enjoy reading, especially those of my favorite genre, fantasy. I tend to gravitate more toward stories about individuals who have a hard life and are given a opportunity to gain something better. These opportunities usually come about by chance: they discover a new ability; it’s revealed that they are the “chosen one”; some long-lost relative or other person shows up to rescue them. Thus it’s no surprise that Harry Potter is one of my favorite books. Harry is basically a Cinderella.

I also enjoy twists on this trope where characters save themselves instead of waiting to be rescued, or are rescued but their new situation is worse or just as stressful as before. For example, Cinder, from Marissa Meyer’s sci-fi reimagining of Cinderella tries to rescue herself from her step-mother’s clutches but isn’t in a better situation after having done so.

It’s amazing that this fairy tale has stuck with me for so long and has influenced me in so many ways — how I view my life, my imagination, and the things that interest me. I doubt its influence will leave me, so I’ll continue with it.


What I’m reading this weekend:
Mad Ship by Robin Hobb

The second in Hobb’s Liveship Traders fantasy series. I’m still buddy-reading this with Emily. I’m enjoying it so far but, ugh!, Robin Hobb’s unlikable characters (in this case, Malta) sometimes drain me. Someone needs to discipline that child. I kind of wish I only had to read Althea, Brashen, Amber, and the serpents’ sections. I don’t really care for the other characters (and there’re so many of them too, ugh!).

Parasites: Tales of Humanity’s Most Unwelcome Guests by Rosemary Drisdelle

A nonfiction book. I’m slowly making my way through this. It’s interesting, but I keep falling asleep when I read it. I’ll try reading it during the day.

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

The second in the Inheritance Cycle, a YA fantasy series. I’m trying to complete it by the end of March.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

A memoir. I had to buy it. The wait lists at my libraries for physical and electronic copies are crazy long.

So, what are you reading? And what stories have stuck with you over the years?
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15 thoughts on “Weekend Reads #68: Cinderella

  1. Awww, thank you for taking the WWW question and expanding it into your own post, Zezee. And this was lovely to read. It’s funny how stories that we read as children can have such a lasting impact on us. I remember reading several of Scott O’Dell’s books when I was 10 or 11 years old, like Island of the Blue Dolphins, Zia, Sing Down the Moon, etc., and being fascinated by their cultures and horrified at how white people mistreated them. Those stories taught me how important it is to be compassionate toward everyone, regardless of your differences. I still have my O’Dell collection to this day, and I don’t think I could ever bear to part with it.

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  2. Beautiful post matey! Thank ye so much for sharing. This post led to a fascinating discussion between the first mate and me about influential books. As a wee lass, I certainly read a lot of horse, Nancy Drew, and fantasy books. There isn’t a single standout though. All books took me away from this world into the world of possibilities and imagination. As an adult, the two books that have influenced me thoughts and actions the most were Stiff (for how I approach death) and HeLa for how hard it hit me emotionally. The ramifications of HeLa are still ongoing and I am not sure I could explain satisfactorily the whys to anyone. Love yer blog.
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hearty thanks, Cap’n!
      I’m glad it inspired a discussion and I think Sara will be glad too since her the questions in her post moved me to write this.
      Nancy Drew was a big part of my reading life as a kid too. That’s before I discovered fantasy and got hooked.
      I’ve heard of Stiff and would like to read it too, but I’ve never heard of HeLa.
      It’s so interesting and great that a story can affect us so deeply or that we can connect so strongly to another’s words.
      Thanks for love, Cap’n. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post – I must admit that I’ve had my moments of wanting to be ‘whisked away’ from everything (usually when I’m undertaking some chores!) Cinderella is definitely a story that sticks with you in that respect. My favourite fairytale is Beauty and the Beast – I don’t know why but I just love it.
    I’ve always fancied reading the Paolini books but just haven’t got round to it – are you enjoying it so far?
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, Beauty and Beast. My fav character in it was Chip 🙂 . Do you plan to see the movie?
      Paolini’s books are great. I enjoyed them the first time I read them and still like them now that I’m rereading them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I absolutely loved this post- it was really interesting to read how and why this book resonated with you. So clever how you linked it with other books- agree that harry is somewhat of a Cinderella (hehe for some reason that feels funny to write). A lot of stories have stuck with me, but just to name one, I’d say Peter Pan- I was obsessed as a child and I think the idea of running away to another land has always been a theme I was obsessed with.

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  5. That is such a beautiful story (yours, I mean, not Cinderella, although that is a classic beautiful story too). I’m glad things got better as you moved to the States, but I guess the burden of student loans will be there for quite some time. That Hobb book in particular sound dreadful with the number of characters you mention. Glad to hear you’re still enjoying it though. 😀

    – Lashaan

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    • Thanks! 🙂
      Things were good in JA too. I just didn’t like having to help cook and clean when I really wanted to play.
      And yea, these fucking student loans are a bitch. If I’d known better, I’d have done community college and just 2 years in university. Would have been way cheaper.
      Lol the Hobb book isn’t too bad. It just…gosh, the unlikable character is just real fucking unlikable. I keep hoping her mom or grandmom would take a belt to her. However, where I am now in the story, it seems that she’s becoming better.

      Liked by 2 people

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