Lil lives a quiet life, working each day in a dusty used book shop in Manhatten, then returning home to her lonely apartment each night. We soon realize, however, that Lil is not just any old woman. Home after a long day of work, she draws a warm bath, undresses and sinks into the welcoming warmth. “I was alone, finally, completely free. I leaned forward and unclenched my back. A pure feeling of bliss moved through me. My wings unfurled. White feather by white feather, curving out and up toward the ceiling, spreading to their full span, like two halves to one heart, until they tapped the walls.”
You see Lil is a fairy. A very famous fairy. Imagine a Cinderella story where the fairy godmother botches the big night with tragic consequences. Banished in disgrace from the fairy world, Lil finds herself living amongst the humans in New York City, old and lonely and longing to return to her world. One day in the book store she sees a book with photos of the Cottingley fairies and becomes convinced that the familiar fairy faces she sees in the photos are a sign that if she can just complete the assignment that she botched hundreds of years before, she can return to her world. One day beautiful, quirky Veronica walks into the bookstore and soon Lil is on a mission to match her with the “prince” who owns the bookstore and send them to a charity ball at the Pierre Hotel.
Turgeon gives us a darker take on the familiar Cinderella fairy tale with some unexpected surprises. Moving back and forth in time between the Cinderella story and the modern day story, we grow to love Lil and feel her sadness, loneliness and isolation. We root for her to successfully accomplish her mission and find redemption and a way back to her world. The story ends with a twist that may leave you feeling a bit disappointed, or maybe even a little bit cheated if you expected the typical “happily ever after” ending, but overall I found the whole story quite enchanting.