The premise of “If The Shoe Fits” is simple: take the basic Cinderella story but modernize it with a plus-size, shoe designer heroine looking for her happily ever after. This is Julie Murphy’s first adult novel and the first from Disney’s new publishing house. It is also the first in the Meant To Be series which will be “updated and contemporary takes on classic Disney princesses.” I had high expectations for this book; unfortunately it didn’t quite meet them.
I’m very conflicted about my thoughts on this book because there are several things that I loved about it and that I thought Murphy did really well. Cindy is a spectacular fat positive character and her weight doesn’t define her. There are several scenes where the fashion and entertainment industries are called out for their lack of size inclusivity and that was refreshing to read. I was expecting the book to remain true to the Cinderella story and make Cindy’s family life a source of contention but I was pleasantly surprised that her blended family was delightful and her step-sisters were some of her best friends. In fact, I enjoyed all the allusions to Cinderella and thought making Cindy a shoe designer in particular was very clever. Making the main story center around a Bachelor-style reality show worked well here but it was impossible not to compare it to Kate Stayman-London’s “One To Watch” that came out last year (although I think Stayman-London was more successful in portraying the behind the scenes world of a reality show). If this book was about Cindy and her post-college adventures I would have liked it more. But when you’re writing a modern take on a fairytale romance, I expect some romance and chemistry and this was where the book was lacking. Henry, the love interest, was boring and one dimensional and I felt we never learned anything about him other than he’s attractive and he’s taking over his mother’s business. Their meet cute at the beginning of the book was lacking any connection and I had a hard time believing that was enough to make them like each other. And the romantic aspects were barely there, with only a few kisses and a fade to black scene that left me wondering what I was supposed to assume happened. Unfortunately, the romance plot took a back seat to the dating show and Cindy’s career search and I wanted more from a book marketed as a romance.
While this book was cute and I liked the Cinderella element, I ultimately wanted more from the romance and was disappointed in the “Prince Charming.” However, Disney fans may enjoy this one and I like the idea of retelling classic fairytales with a modern twist so I have hopes for this series.
Author: Julie Murphy
Expected Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021
Rating: 3 Stars
*I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*