Ever After: A Cinderella Story is a retelling of the classic story with a twist. Danielle is the Cinderella character and when her father suddenly dies, she is left in the care of her step-mother, the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent.
From the opening scenes with Danielle we know she is no ordinary girl. She might wear a dress, but she can whip her friend Gustave’s butt any day of the week. Unfortunately, it’s after a good snockering that she meets her new step-mother and sisters. They are dressed immaculately and she, well she’s covered in mud. Her father doesn’t seem to mind, but Rodmilla is appalled. Oh, get over yourself Baroness!
When her father dies just a few days after his arrival home, and I feel I must mention here it is one of the sweetest death scenes I’ve ever seen, it’s clear the Baroness won’t treat Danielle with the same care and curtesy she shows her two daughters.
Ten years pass before we see the devastation Rodmilla has wreaked on the farm and Danielle ~ she is now a servant in her father’s home and the farm is little more than a holding with only a few servants to help run the manor. Danielle has made it her life’s work to save the farm from complete ruination and when a thief tries to steal their horse she throws an apple at him ~ knocking him off the horse with a direct hit. Way to go, Danielle!
Um, oopsy. That thief? Yep, you guessed it. He’s our Prince Charming.
Since he’s running away ~ again ~ he pays Danielle for her silence. What does she do with all the gold? Buy a new trinket? A pretty gown? Get a mani/pedi? Nope. She dresses up as a courtesan, which is punishable by death, so she can buy back the freedom of Maurice, a worker who her step-mother sold. She’s a nasty piece of work, that Rodmilla.
Guess who sees Danielle at court? Yep, the prince. But Danielle is dressed all fancy schmancy and he doesn’t recognize her as the girl in the orchard. Which would’ve saved them all a lot of heartache, but made for a very short story.
Wouldn’t you know it, but Henry (the prince) is attracted to Danielle and insists she give him a name. The only one she can think of is her dead mother’s. Hey, she’s under a lot of pressure! Give her a break.
So Henry sets out to woo Danielle who he thinks is Nicole. In the meantime, Rodmilla is throwing her oldest daughter, Marguerite at Henry in the hopes he will choose her over the Spanish Princess he’s been contracted to marry. Throw in Leonardo DaVinci, some back alley deals between Rodmilla and one of the King’s messengers, and it all gets convoluted and fun, but what you need to remember is that Danielle is a kickass heroine.
Need an example? When she and Henry get lost on their way back from a monastery (yes, Henry is mildly dismayed he doesn’t even know his way around his own kingdom), it’s Danielle who climbs a tree and finds the way home.
But wait! There are Gypsies in them thar woods and they attack the wayward couple. What does Danielle do? She barters with the Gypsies. They agree to let her leave, but only with whatever she can carry. What does she do? She picks up the prince and carries him over her shoulder!
I love that kickass Danielle. You do not mess with her.
Later, when her step-mother discovers she’s been cavorting with the prince and stealing his precious attention away from her snotty daughter, she sells Danielle to the despicable Pierre Le Pieu. When he gets a little too grabby, Danielle threatens him with a sword. She does it so convincingly that he gives her her freedom.
It’s about this time Prince Henry (finally!) shows up to save her. Sorry, handsome, this princess is capable of saving herself.
Throughout the story there is another daughter, Jacqueline, who is quiet and a bit mousey. She is the ‘ugly’ daughter (although she is nothing of the sort, it’s just how Rodmilla treats her) and therefore relegated to the metaphoric back seat. We see Jacqueline gradually finding her voice and in the end when Rodmilla is accused of lying to the Queen, Jacqueline finally stands up to her bully mother. Yay Jacqueline! Yep, she gets to live happily ever after as well.
Oh, and that Prince Henry? He’s pretty darn hot.
I don’t do well reading books or watching movies where the lead female character is weak or wishy-washy. I like a good strong woman who may not have all the confidence in the world, but is willing to take risks because she knows it’s the right thing to do.
What about you? Do you prefer characters like Danielle, or more subdued women who are happy to wait for the prince to rescue them?
If you haven’t seen this movie, check out the trailer. It gives me chills, how about you?