By Holly McQueen
Available now from Atria (Simon & Schuster)
This modern update of Cinderella positions Charlie Glass as the inheritor of a luxury women's shoe company with multiple desirable suitors. Charlie's life didn't always go so well. She left school and her dreams in order to care for her terminally ill father. She was overweight, and struggled with being positive about her body. Her stepmother was cruel and her half sisters selfish.
I am a sucker for retold fairytales, and I liked the way Holly McQueen updated Cinderella in CHARLIE GLASS'S SLIPPERS. Charlie's struggle with her body and appearance was more compelling than an effortlessly beautiful heroine. Her sudden windfall is her chance to become thinner and blonder (with an intensive fat camp), but her new attention to everything she eats and intense exercise doesn't really make her that much happier. I liked her half sisters quite a bit. The younger one is a model, quite silly in a bit of a sad way, but mostly tries to be sweet to her sister when she isn't jealous. The older one has her own family and is dedicated to her career, without much use for Charlie until she comes to respect her. The sisters aren't the nicest, but they aren't totally awful and they have feelings about family.
As for the two men in Charlie's life, I liked that McQueen didn't make it as simple as Prince Charming just happening to hold a ball. Both men have their good points and bad points. In fact, I didn't like her old crush Freddie at first because of how he failed to communicate with Charlie, but he grew on me. Her new boyfriend is sexy, generous, and really into her, but a bit shallow. I believed I knew which way things were going, but I was a bit surprised.
McQueen also throws a cold case murder mystery into the mix, which seemed a bit much at times. It tied into Charlie's past, her recent grief over her father's death and her mixed emotions since he mostly left her alone after her mother's death. Her mother died in a hit and run, and Charlie and the lead detective (Freddie's father) never give up hope of finding her killer. It added a darkness to the frothy tone of CHARLIE GLASS'S SLIPPERS.
If you're looking for chicklit with a fairytale bent, you might try CHARLIE GLASS'S SLIPPERS. It's characters have surprising dimension, and it tackles some surprisingly tough topics (if with a light touch). I really liked Charlie, with her struggles to maintain her closest friendship amidst change, find true love, and rejuvenate her company.