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The tale of Cinderella – or the Cat Cinderella, or Aschenputtel – is a story that is found in many cultures throughout the world. The extraneous elements may change – sometimes there’s a ball, sometimes not, there can be murder, a nut tree, a fairy godmother or the kindly spirit of a deceased mother – but the central theme of rags to riches, from oppressed to princess, is always there.
What is it about Cinderella that appeals to so many people? Is it because we all root for the underdog? Is it just for a love of social justice? And what happens if Cinderella’s wishes aren’t from a benevolent fairy godmother but are part of a fiendish bargain? To answer these questions and more, we spoke to JJA Harwood, author of The Shadow in the Glass.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Cinder the Fireplace Boy: And Other Gayly Grimm Tales by Anna Mardoll
JJA Harwood is an author, editor and podcaster. She grew up in Norfolk, read History at the University of Warwick and eventually found her way to London, which is still something of a shock for somebody used to so many fields.
When not writing, she can be found learning languages, cooking with more enthusiasm than skill, wandering off into clearly haunted houses and making friends with stray cats – or playing D&D, which you can listen to on her podcast, Lads on Tour. Her first novel, THE SHADOW IN THE GLASS, was released in March 2021 and debuted onto the Sunday Times bestseller list.
I loved this quote from JJA: “As industrialization began to grow, the kind of tight-knit social networks started to erode, and in particular for women, this had a real effect on them in society because in (I don’t know) 1500, 1600, you would have a much more tightly-knit kinship network, women would have a support system of gossips which just meant female friends and those would be the people who they would turn to and rely on for advice and for when things got a bit tough maybe they’d go and stay with them for a bit; just (you know) the kind of social support network which we all need from time to time. But as industrialization grew, and the growth of the big cities happened, you get a really interesting demonization of the gossip as a figure. That’s when gossip starts to be seen as a negative term, and these networks start to erode; they are still there in some form, but you don’t have the same kind of close-knit community that you might have had a few hundred years before.”
Fascinating! Now I’m going to have to research the representation of the gossip, both the word and the figure, because that it a terrific idea for a podcast by itself!
Once again, terrific episode!