The Fairest of Them All


From the original book proposal:

This story is about Rapunzel. Who is, like many fairytale heroines, abused and mistreated in the most astonishing ways, and then swooped up by a dashing prince who makes everything okay, forever after.

But how do these damaged girls live happily ever after?

Snow White, for example, has a stepmother who tries to eat her heart, casting her out in the woods and paying a guard to bring back her bloody heart. The guard takes pity on Snow White and lets her go, and brings back the heart of a deer instead. Imagine this young girl: cast out in the woods, watching this deer being slaughtered, knowing that this guard will return to her stepmother with this heart in hand, saying it is hers, Snow White’s? When, later, a handsome prince comes and kisses Snow White’s beautiful corpse as it lies in a crystal coffin in the middle of the woods, bringing her back to life after she eats the poison apple, how is this girl really going to live happily ever after? Would it not make more sense if this girl ended up being the old lady in Hansel in Gretel, living in a house of made of candy and luring in children? So she can eat them?  

In Godmother, I could not imagine a more realistic fate for Cinderella, who is probably abused more than any girl in any fairytale I can think of, than suicide. Unless she were to live, and become an abuser of some sort herself, later. When she is no longer the most beautiful girl at the ball.

Who are these witches and evil queens, anyway? All these most beloved stories have them, the young abused girls, the handsome princes, and the evil witches and queens… Doesn’t it make sense that these abused young princesses end up being the evil queens themselves? Where else do these evil ladies come from?

What if Rapunzel, of the gorgeous lustrous locks, the incomparable beauty, ends up being the evil stepmother in the story of Snow White?

It makes perfect sense: Rapunzel is badly abused, of course. She is kept in a tower by a witch for years, after being torn away from her parents (though I prefer to make the witch her savior, and the parents the abusers). What will she learn in that tower? Witchcraft. The only person she talks to is a witch! She is renowned for her amazing beauty, which is what saves her, when a prince rides by and is no less than gobsmacked by the very sight of her. She is rescued by this prince (and what if it is a widowed king? These widowers are always coming home with stepmothers aren’t they? Where are those romantic tales?), and becomes his queen. Would that have happened had she been anything less than spectacularly beautiful? And it makes sense, too, that the magic mirror is a wedding gift from this witch who’s kept her all these years. And that she, Rapunzel, as she gets older, will be a woman who does not take it well when her looks begin to fade, and the looks of a young stepdaughter blossom more and more. And really: how long will she stay happy living with this king before that abuse, those memories, those traumas that have wedged themselves deep inside her mind and heart, come forth?

This is my story: how the evil queen from the Snow White story got that way.

And started out as Rapunzel.