"Godmother" by Carolyn Turgeon

Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings–the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming.

But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica–a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men–and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for...

From Goodreads

Bookworms, I was so in love with Carolyn Turgeon’s latest novel, Mermaid (review here), I had to rush out and buy Godmother as well. Like Mermaid, Turgeon’s sophomore title looks at the flip side of fairy tales. Do you ever wonder about the fairy godmother’s life when she’s not making a perfect happily-ever-after for her charges? The first time I ever considered her plight was when I read The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey. There’s so much hard work that goes into the job that all of these fairy tale heroes and heroines take for granted. Godmothers are people, too, though, and flawed ones at that.

In Turgeon’s Godmother, Lil is a fairy godmother tasked with getting Cinderella to the ball...but winds up falling in love with the prince herself. In the fairy world, loving a human—especially one destined for another—is forbidden, so Lil is banished to the mortal world. The novel begins in the present day. Lil is an old woman living in NYC. Every day, she works at a used bookshop while George, the store’s owner, goes off looking for rare books. Every night, she returns home, poor, hungry, sore, and worst of all, lonely. Even after all these centuries in the mortal realm, she misses her fairy brethren so much that she constantly has dreams about all the good times they once had together. She also has nightmares of the time everything went horribly wrong. One day, a young woman named Veronica comes into the store to sell some old books, including one about the Cottingley Fairies Hoax. Turgeon introduces a bit of history to readers here, while melding the incident into her own lore. Lil realizes that the “fake fairies” on the cover are of her sister and their friends. That night, she bumps into a man who looks familiar to her and realizes that her family has finally returned for her. If she plays her cards right, she might be able to go home. She decides to set Veronica up with George. If she can be a godmother in the mortal realm and bring these two people their own happily-ever-after, she’ll be redeemed.

Godmother is an intense read, at times very dark and psychological. It’s full of twists and turns readers won’t see coming, especially as the climax appears on the horizon and everything starts coming together. I’ll tell you now...certain revelations left me stunned. I can see book clubs discussing certain aspects of this novel for hours; it’s definitely a title that will appeal to all types of readers. I really loved Turgeon’s characterizations of Lil and Veronica. My heart ached for Lil; I was rooting for her the entire time. In the mortal world, she was in so much pain and suffered so much heartache. Veronica was full of life and one of the quirkiest characters I’ve met in a long time. I hoped something good would finally come her way. The two women had a fascinating relationship with one another, as though they were a real family.


At first, I didn’t think much of this cover. If I saw it on a bookshelf without knowing anything about the story, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. After finishing Godmother, however, I’ve formed a better appreciation for the cover. In the background, there’s a silhouette of New York City. The City is in red, dark and full of pain. Behind it is a blue sky. If you look closely, you’ll see the white silhouettes of fairies and the sparkle of fairy dust mixed in with all the blue. This part of the cover represents the fairy realm. At the forefront of the cover is a bridge, the only part of the cover not shown in silhouette, but detailed. My eyes are drawn to it, and after reading the novel, it reminds me of one scene in particular. The title itself, Godmother, draws the most attention. It uses a gradient that goes from pale to dark, showing both the good and bad side of things. It rest atops a swirl of white fairy magic. The letters themselves are imperfect, mottled at the edges and broken apart at times. They represent how Lil is broken, the way her two worlds clash, the fact that she is no longer whole. I now have so much more respect for this cover; it’s not as simple as it initially appears to be.

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  1. I'd never heard of this one! It sounds fantastic though! Adding it to my TBR immediately.

  2. Oh my god, this sounds incredible! I LOVE the premise. How have I never heard of this?

  3. Bookish Brunette: I had never heard of this until the day I picked up Mermaid (which I had also never heard of!). It was really good; I had a lot of trouble putting it down!

    Misty: You're not alone! I never heard of this, either! Carolyn Turgeon is a new favorite of mine! Her books are all so unique! Next, I need to buy Rain Village--it's about THUMBELINA. I don't think I EVER saw this as a retelling before, and it's a favorite story of mine!

  4. Yea, Im not sure the cover really gives it justice, it looks more circusy then farytale-y, but this story sound like a great twist of a fariytale! Ive got to read it.


  5. I haven't heard of either, but ti sounds great--thanks for the review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  6. I definitely want to read this one. Sounds like a unique retelling of the godmother's part.

  7. This one I'm compelled to read because you say its very discussion worthy - I like books like that.

    I may give this one a try.

  8. Missrantypants: It isn't my favorite cover in the world. I really would have overlooked it at the store. I have more appreciation for it after reading the novel, however!

    Brandileigh: I'm glad the novel sounds interesting to you! I really enjoyed reading this one: It really made me stop and think!

    Carol: It's absolutely a unique perspective. I loved reading about the Godmother and seeing her brought to life like never before!

    Gina: If you read this book, I can ABSOLUTELY see you creating a discussion post the way you did with Unearthly. I'm already willing to participate!


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