Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
AuthorGregory Maguire
Cover artistDouglas Smith
CountryUnited States
PublisherWilliam Morrow
Publication date
November 1, 1999
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages368 (hardback)
813/.54 21
LC ClassPS3563.A3535 C66 1999

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a 1999 fantasy novel by American writer Gregory Maguire, retelling the tale of Cinderella through the eyes of one of her "ugly stepsisters." In 2002, the book was adapted into a TV movie of the same name directed by Gavin Millar.


Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, the plain younger daughter of Margarethe Fisher, as she takes care of her mentally challenged older sister Ruth and her beautiful stepsister Clara. Having fled from the Fens of Cambridgeshire, England; to Haarlem, the Netherlands. Upon her father's death, Iris is slightly at odds with the world and often contemplates the value of beauty and ugliness. While caring for her sisters and keeping the peace between Clara and Margarethe, Iris develops a painter's eye and spends time studying under a local painter known as The Master, and his apprentice, Caspar.

Margrethe makes Iris and Ruth go to the ball in the hopes of making the prince fall in love with Iris. Iris secretly helps Clara get to the ball and the prince immediately falls in love with her. While at the ball, Ruth does the unthinkable out of jealousy and love of Clara and Master, burning down the Master's magnum opus, a painting of Clara. That night, the fairy tale of Cinderella and her pumpkin carriage is spun, and the next morning her prince comes to collect her.

At the end of the tale, the characters' eventual fates are revealed: Iris marries Caspar and paints at his side, sometimes under his name; Caspar "dutifully" cares for Ruth; and Clara eventually dies in New Amsterdam from a complaint of the heart.[1]



Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister was adapted by writer Gene Quintano and director Gavin Millar into a TV movie for The Wonderful World of Disney. It was shot in Luxembourg and was first aired on March 10, 2002. It starred Azura Skye as Iris, Stockard Channing as Margarethe, Emma Poole as Ruth, Jenna Harrison as Clara, Jonathan Pryce as Schoonmaker, and Matthew Goode (in his debut) as Casper.[3] This version was a more traditional interpretation, presenting Cinderella as a more sympathetic heroine (coining the name "Cinderella" when she begins helping Iris with chores so that she can go to the ball), including a fairy godmother-like figure, and giving Clara a pet mouse.

The film varies widely from the book:


  1. ^ Maguire, Gregory (1999). Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
  2. ^ "It is severe, and true...Iris is plain to look at. Painfully plain. Don't exaggerate her physical virtues, Caspar, it does no good in the end. She must accept it like the rest of us", says Margarethe. Maguire, Gregory (1999). Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. United States: HarperCollins. p. 50. ISBN 0-06-098752-9.
  3. ^ Fries, Laura (2002-03-06). "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister". Retrieved 2007-10-20.