A young woman, well educated and honourable, accepts responsibility for her father's act and leaves her family to enter the enchanted world of castle and Beast. The Beast she finds is not the one she imagined, but can she stay with him?
Closer to the original French fairytale than any version so far, the style of writing has an old-fashioned charm and simplicity about it, giving you the feeling that you are reading a letter from Beauty herself describing her life at the beast’s enchanted castle.
This book would make a wonderful gift for girls aged nine to ninety!
I think because I had seen the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast (which obviously borrowed A LOT from this book) I didn't appreciate it at first. I had been reading the fairy tale series of Terri Windling when I purchased this book and I remember being quite disappointed when I started reading it...I missed the originality and wonder of the tale (the idea that Beauty enjoys books, and is independent etc.). Now I wonder how I could have! I think this is easy to do because we now live in a time when "Girl Power" and independent heroines aren't surprising.
But as I have grown older and the more I have read it, the more I am amazed at this wonderful and unique telling of such an old tale. And the more I realised what a unique and innovative book this must have been when it was first published in 1978! It still retains some of its distinctiveness but in the surge of books featuring independent heroines some of it was probably lost.
This book is an absolute gem. But I have come to realise just how amazing Beauty is through reading Rose Daughter by the same author. And while I enjoyed the book, through reading it the superiority of Beauty becomes clearer.
My one difficulty was accepting that this Beauty was not beautiful, because that was what always made the fairy tale so spectacular to me; that a beautiful girl could love an ugly monster. But despite the fact that this Beauty doesn't look beautiful, she definitely has a beautiful heart. And at no point do you feel she "settles" for the Beast because she thinks she's plain. Her love for him is real and the way in which it slowly grows makes a thoroughly enjoyable and authentic read.
The book is written in a wonderful style that definitely skips along without the reader getting bored or losing a sense of the world that is contained within it. The distinctions that are made between the different places that Beauty's journey takes her are highlighted well; the bustling city with its riches and parties feels completely different to the peaceful little village, with caring neighbours and friends and the lavish but solitary nature of the Beasts enchanted castle.
But what truly makes this book for me is the characterisation, which is SO original, Beauty and her family are a group of people you really come to love and care for and they are developed really well. Robin McKinley does not just concentrate on the characters of Beauty and the Beast, but also on her sisters, her loving father and her horse. My favourite characters were the Beast, Beauty, Ger and Greatheart but I felt I knew all of them at least a little. Beauty is very down to earth and as the book is written in the first person it is her that you come to know best. But knowing the story of the Beast, while Beauty doesn't means that the reader gets a clearer sense of his despair and the hope that he begins to feel when Beauty enters his life. McKinley portrays so much of his character through the way he says things; "mildly", "horrified". Of all the characters his is developed in a very subtle manner and this is what makes Beauty's time in his castle, my favourite section of the book. Although he is what he is, his wry humour and acceptance of his situation make him my favourite character, and it is completely possible to see why and how Beauty loves him despite his appearance.
I recommend this book therefore, not just to those who love fairy tales, but also to those who enjoy a good story, with characters that are identifiable and real. Young or old you will not be disappointed!!
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions