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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Trap for Cinderella

Sébastien Japrisot

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To purchase Trap for Cinderella

Title: Trap for Cinderella
Author: Sébastien Japrisot
Genre: Novel
Written: 1962 (Eng. 1964)
Length: 171 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Trap for Cinderella - US
Trap for Cinderella - UK
Trap for Cinderella - Canada
Piège pour Cendrillon - Canada
Piège pour Cendrillon - France
Falle für Aschenbrödel - Deutschland
Trampa para Cenicienta - España
  • French title: Piège pour Cendrillon
  • Translated by Helen Weaver
  • Piège pour Cendrillon was made into a film in 1965, directed by André Cayatte and with a screenplay co-authored by Jean Anouilh, and starring Dany Carrel
  • Trap for Cinderella was re-made into a film in 2013, directed by Iain Softley and starring Aneurin Barnard, Tuppence Middleton, and Frances de la Tour

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Our Assessment:

B : way too far-fetched, but fairly gripping (and twisting) psychological thriller

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times Book Rev. . 5/7/1964 Anthony Boucher

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The complete review's Review:

       Trap for Cinderella begins with a woman recovering from horrible injuries to her face and hands that she got in a fire that also claimed the life of another woman. She also has amnesia -- to such an extent that she can't even remember who she is. Everyone treats her like she is Michele Isola, also called Micky or Mi, while they think the girl who died is a childhood friend who recently became part of her life again, Domenica Loi, also called Do. But the woman is so disfigured that there's really no way of knowing for sure.
       Plastic surgery does wonders for her, though she still has to wear white gloves to protect her horribly scarred (and fingerprintless ...) hands, and Jeanne Murneau, who has apparently long looked after her, takes her under her wing again when she finally leaves the clinic.
       It makes a big difference who she is, as Jeanne assures her:

You will be twenty-one in November. La Raffermi's will will be opened then, but it really isn't necessary to open it to guess the number of billions of lire that will be transferred to your account.
       Domenica, on the other hand, was just a humble bank teller (before she hooked back up with Michele). And hence also someone who would have had a great reason to kill Michele and take her place .....
       The woman is unsure of her identity, but she begins to wonder whether she might not actually be Domenica, a puppet of sorts (or perhaps an eager accomplice ?) caught up in an elaborate murder-plot by the domineering Jeanne, who certainly seems to have things worked out conveniently. Or is she actually Michele, perhaps able to thwart the plan at the last minute and turn the tables on Domenica ? She's tortured by the possibilities and uncertainty.
       Flashbacks to the past reveal the plot(s) as they unfolded, and it's clear Jeanne meant to get her hands on at least part of the billions, by whatever means necessary. But Japrisot offers a surprising number of twists, leaving it uncertain who was conning whom (and who the mystery-woman really is) pretty much until the end. Quite a few of the twists are very unlikely, from the original crime itself -- burning oneself just right (beyond recognition, but salvageably so) just doesn't sound like it has a high success-rate or would be easy to commit to, for one -- to the final twist that upsets Jeanne's carefully laid plans (as the will throws open some surprises too), but it does make for considerable suspense and certainly keeps the reader guessing.
       Trap for Cinderella is very much a psychological thriller, and while the amnesiac's fumbling for her identity can get a bit tiresome, Japrisot does a nice job with the relationships among the women. Both the way Jeanne seeks to control the present-day situation, as well as the flashbacks, which show a very different Michele and Domenica (and the bizarre relationship they had) are enjoyably warped.
       Trap for Cinderella is ultimately a bit too convoluted, as Japrisot tries to be too clever by several halves (and twists) -- though these are fairly enjoyable -- and entirely too unbelievable. Still, it's consistently surprising suspense, and offers some entertaining portraits of some very peculiar souls, driven to extremes.

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Trap for Cinderella: Reviews: Trap for Cinderella - the films: Other books by Sébastien Japrisot under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Sébastien Japrisot (actually: Jean-Baptiste Rossi) lived 1931 to 2003.

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