Today XOXO welcomes Julia Kelly, author of a sparkling new series of Regency romances! The Governess series begins with The Governess Was Wicked, and Book 2, The Governess Was Wanton, is available now–and you won’t have to wait long for number 3, The Governess Was Wild, coming next month. Here, Julia tells us about the inspiration for her second book…
I love nothing more than a good fairytale. When I decided to write the second book in my Governess series, The Governess Was Wanton, I knew that I wanted to put a spin on a classic. Rather than tell Cinderella’s happily ever after, why not give the fairy godmother her own love story?
Adapting a Cinderella story means picking which familiar elements to keep. In The Governess Was Wanton, Prince Charming became the dashing Earl of Asten — who just happens to be employing the heroine, Mary, as a governess. The prince’s ball became a masquerade ball. The glass slipper became a handkerchief Mary leaves behind after a romantic encounter with the earl.
Whether they stick close to the familiar story or take some big liberties, here are seven other Cinderella adaptations on the screen and on the page that take on the classic:
Cinderella (1950), Cinderella (1997), Cinderella (2015)
In some ways, Cinderella’s always been a part of my life. My parents will tell you that I’ve probably seen the 1950 Disney animated movie 500 times because I loved it growing up. I also remember the huge event that was the Cinderella TV movie starring Brandy and Whitney Houston in 1997, which I definitely watched live even though musicals are not my thing. When Kenneth Branagh’s version came out in 2015, I trooped to the theaters to see it because I just can’t stay away from a woman in big fluffy dress who loses her shoes (although I thought Cate Blanchett had the best clothing in the movie). What makes it so easy to watch these movies again and again is even though they’re telling the most traditional version of the fairytale, they each have their own take.
Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
This is a lovely (very loose) adaptation of the Cinderella story. When Ella is a baby, a scatterbrained fairy curses her with obedience. When her mother dies, Ella gets a wicked stepmother and a couple obnoxious stepsisters who take advantage of the affliction. Naturally, Ella decides enough is enough and goes on an adventure to try to find the fairy and get the curse lifted. What follows is a funny, charming story with a strong-willed, smart girl at the center of the action.
Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)
Words can’t describe how much I love this movie. It’s peak Drew Barrymore, end of the ‘90s goodness that riffs on the traditional Cinderella fairytale. Yes, it’s a traditional romance where boy meets girl, girl whacks boy on the head with apple, boy falls in love with girl. But it’s also a story about girl power and friendship and Leonardo da Vinci for no other reason than it was the ‘90s so why not Leonardo da Vinci? It also gave us the always good advice, “Just breathe.”
Cinderella’s optimism gets tested against the cynicism of my adopted home, New York City, in this adaptation. Amy Adams is perfect as the very out-of-her-depth Princess Giselle, James Marsden is delightfully witless and fairly useless as Prince Charming, and Patrick Dempsey in full McDreamy mode. Giselle also saves her prince rather than the other way around, which I always enjoy seeing. Come for the fairytale magic, stay for the singing NYC pest sidekicks.
Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China, by Ai-Ling Louis with illustrations by Ed Young
This picture book was on the shelf of my elementary school library and, along with a beautiful version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, was one of my favorites. In this story, the fairy godmother is replaced by a fish and the ball is the Spring Festival. The illustrations are done in gorgeous watercolors that feel ethereal and just a little magic