Making Life a Bliss Complete

Honest and heartfelt stories and lessons about home, family, love, faith, and personal growth.

Always Ella: The Stepmother’s Story

In 2015, I had the honor of doing a blog tour for a new author named Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee who had written a Cinderella retelling called Ella. I absolutely fell in love with her novel, and from my review of it, started a friendship with this brilliant and amazing person, as well as many more opportunities to read, review, and even edit some of her books.

There were so many reasons I loved Ella (you can read my review here). One of the things I said about the book was: I had empathy for the antagonist. Some of my most favorite novels help me see the humanity in, and feel empathy towards, even the darkest of people.

It’s true. I have always loved stories like that, and because of this, I told Jess years ago that I hoped she would write the stepmother’s story someday. Imagine my delight when she not only wrote it, but she asked for my help in editing it. Of course, I was thrilled to, and had the opportunity to read it more than once and offer my insights. It was amazing from the start, and only got better as she refined it.

It has taken me far too long to read the final copy and finally write my review, and I’m sorry for that. But I can say with certainty that it is a masterpiece indeed.

Nobody is born wicked, but sometimes we forget that. Oftentimes when we hear about a person who has done wicked things, we dehumanize them and pass them off as a bad person unworthy of any sort of grace or understanding. It’s easy to do, isn’t it? Rather than seeing the weaknesses in ourselves that left unchecked could lead to cruelty, we would rather think that some people just are wicked and that we could never be like that.

Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee shows her readers that the way we end up is a combination of our upbringing, economic circumstances, knowledge, positive verses negative influences, love or the lack thereof, tragedy, unfairness, and so many other things. We do have some choice in how we react. We can let these things overcome us, leading to a life of fear and hardness, or we can rise above, and learn from the mistakes of others, treating others better than we were treated. But it’s never easy. Things that are natural for some are confusing, unclear, and incredibly difficult for others.

I don’t want to give away what happens in Victoria Noble’s life that leads her to becoming the wicked stepmother we all know about because I want you to read every detail and mourn with her. I want you to understand where she is coming from. I want you to feel lost, lonely, fearful, and desperate with her. I want you to feel the hope, love, and healing she experiences that ends far too soon. I want you to feel broken with her. I want you to be disappointed in her and even angry at her. Most of all, I want you to forgive her. I did all of those things with her, and that is why I cried at the end when redemption finally came.

From Victoria’s story I felt just how important it is to know our worth and our potential and to surround ourselves with those who will help us see it. But we can’t base our worth on the approval of others either. It is simply always there, and we must never forget it, not for an instant. If we do, we will often not choose the right path when life gets hard. I also felt that love is the greatest force in the world, and those who are in possession of it, and give it freely, are the happiest, most empathetic, and the most at peace.

I believe that God loves the just and the unjust, the righteous and the wicked equally, and he shines down on them all, trying his best to lead and guide them if they will but heed His voice. Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee also believes that and so tenderly lets that light seep through her pages. It is slight and it isn’t all the time, but it’s how she helps us as readers to feel empathy for the wicked stepmother.

Trust me that there will be messages in this book that will speak to your heart. You will be inspired and hopefully you will do a little better to learn the stories of those that we too easily label as unlovable, unworthy, or even wicked.

Thank you, Jess, for sharing your God-given gifts with us. I hope you continue to write and change lives in the process.


You can purchase this wonderful book on Amazon: Always Ella: The Stepmother’s Story: Peaslee, Jessilyn Stewart: 9798394062988: Books.

You can read my reviews of Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee’s other books here: Ella’s Will, Finding Beauty in the Beast, and Awake at Widmore Manor.

Thank you for sharing!