The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin – REVIEW
Cinderella married the man of her dreams – the perfect ending she deserved after diligently following all the fairy-tale rules. Yet now, two children and thirteen-and-a-half years later, things have gone badly wrong.
One night, she sneaks out of the palace to get help from the Witch who, for a price, offers love potions to disgruntled housewives. But as the old hag flings the last ingredients into the cauldron, Cinderella doesn’t ask for a love spell to win back her Prince Charming.
Instead, she wants him dead.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hodder & Stoughton.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
The Charmed Wife asks what happened after Cinderella married her Prince. It’s an intricately plotted and incisive examination of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world. There’s an almost dreamy quality to the book, especially with its descriptive prose and lyrical cadence.
“Hate traps you just as much as love does. Because hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is.”
Playful and witty, the author subverts tropes and the reader’s expectations more than once. Like the main character, the reader has the rug pulled from under their feet but I won’t say any more in case I accidentally spoil it. The plot is engaging from the first page and, despite Cinderella being quite an unlikeable character, she retains our sympathy throughout.
“I bet he’s not the villain in his mind. Everyone is a hero of his own story.”
I loved the exploration of agency and reclaiming the narrative for one’s self. It’s sometimes necessary to face hard truths and the reality behind the stories we weave for ourselves. There is no good/evil dichotomy in the world and understanding this is an awful yet essential rite of passage. No matter how dark things get though, remember that the story is never over.