Interview with Anne E. Beall; the author of Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After!
Thank you iRead Book Tours for the chance to read and review Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After by Anne E. Beall! Over here, you guys will be able to read my mini review and also dive into the interview!
Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After was published by Beall Research, Inc. on the 13th of November, 2018. At 127 pages, it’s a short read, but one that talks about a lot of overarching themes that you see in the Grimm’s fairy tales. It’s a good book for those who are interested in feminist theory and literary criticism.
We’ve all always known that happy ever after is usually not as happy as we imagine it will be. Not just because as we grow older we realise that even the things we do out of love and with the best intentions can fall apart, but as the poem goes, “the world is at least fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative estimate.” Cinderella won’t live happily ever after, not because we don’t want her too, but because the numbers don’t add up to a one.
Even though the book is short it’s a really good one that allows a reader to really get a good sense of the major themes they’ll see when reading these fairy tales. It’s also great to see that the analysis is data driven. I won’t go into the statistical significance stuff, because I’m an Econ major who shouldn’t have graduated with a degree in econ, but I do think that they give a good sense of how common certain aspects of these stories are. Anne also includes the number and tables at the end, which I think is a great way to allow a reader to conduct their own analysis and invite further conversation.
While Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After is a book for people of all ages, I would definitely want to give this to a reader in their teens, just to help them become less afraid of numbers and to show them the way data can be used in literature.
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A bit about Anne E. Beall
A leader in the field of market research and one of the few female CEOs in the industry, Anne E. Beall is the author of 10 books in business, gender studies, and mindfulness, including Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily EverAfter: The Hidden Messages in Fairy Talesand The Psychology of Gender. Her book Heartfelt Connections was named one of the top 100 Notable Indie books in 2016 by Shelf Unbound, and she has published nearly a dozen business articles in noted journals. Her books have been featured in People Magazine, Toronto Sun, Hers Magazine, and Ms. Career Girl, and she has been interviewed by NBC, NPR, and WGN. Having received her PhD in social psychology from Yale University, Anne resides in Evanston, Illinois and is the founder of the market consultancy company Beall Research.
And here is the interview!
Why is the title of your book, Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After?
Women within these stories have little agency and are fairly powerless after they marry. Queens and princesses are the most unhappy characters—queens express sadness and cry more than any other character. The reason for their sorrow is that other women often attack them, sometimes they have their children taken from them, and they’re punished by the king (their husband). If this pattern holds, Cinderella will not have a peaceful life. Given the appeal of the prince, she will be the envy of many ladies. She is also bringing less to the table than the prince, who has wealth, status, and a kingdom. Research shows that when you bring fewer resources to a relationship, you have less power in it, which is what happens to many queens in fairy tales.
Don’t fairy tales change over time?
Fairy tales adapt to the teller and location through a variety of contexts (e.g., forest vs. desert) and the dialogue also changes. But often the basic story remains. For example, one of the earliest Cinderella stories featured a Greek slave named Rhodopis. She was bathing when an eagle stole her sandal and dropped into the King of Egypt’s lap. He was holding a meeting at the time and was moved by the beauty of the sandal as well as the strangeness of the situation. He asked his advisors to locate the sandal’s owner, which took a while. They finally located Rhodopis, who eventually became his wife. This story is from around the first century BC! So, you can see the essential tale is the same from thousands of years ago.
People Magazine featured your book and then NBC interviewed you. What was that like?
It was totally amazing, and it surprised me when the magazine picked it up. People became interested in the book because characters in fairy tales vary in terms of the emotions they experience. For example, kings and princes are the happiest characters, whereas queens are the saddest. They found that data interesting and worthy of an article. I was also invited to appear on an NBC morning show in Tampa because they found the book relevant when Meghan Markle left the royal family. Everyone wanted to understand why marrying a prince might not turn out well. It was a dream come true to have major media interested in my book.
What is your favorite fairy tale and why?
Believe it or not—my favorite fairy tale is Cinderella. It’s one of the oldest fairy tales and there are at least 1,500 versions around the world! I love the idea of a woman getting out of a terrible situation. And I like the idea of marriage as an avenue to a new life. It’s a sweet story and there is a reason it has stood the test of time. I also like the reversed gendered version where a princess saves a man who is downtrodden, and they begin a new life together. It’s just a lovely idea.
Do you think people really take fairy tales seriously?
While writing this book, it struck me how often people used the phrases “happily ever after,” “fairy tale,” “princess, queen, king, and queen.” These phrases are a huge part of our culture and I believe many people aspire to have a life of wealth and privilege—a fairy tale life. However, these tales often showcase women as passive and weak, whereas men are portrayed as active and strong, which are traditional gender stereotypes. Powerful women in these tales are often evil, whereas powerful men are mostly good. These ideas may form a lens through which we see the world. For example, little girls who get a heavy dose of princess culture may look to males to save them when things get difficult. So, to answer your question, these are fun entertaining stories, but at some level we should all take them seriously—they are a huge part of our culture.
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