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The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold Paperback – Aug 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Teen; Reprint edition (Aug. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064407454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064407458
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 235,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Beauty, Snow White, Rose Red - you've met them all in many incarnations. But you haven't met Charm or Snow or Tiny, not as Francesca Lia Block has imagined them. Within her singular, time-less landscapes, the brutal and the magical collide. In Block's retelling of these tales, the heroine triumphs because of the strength she finds in a pen, a paintbrush, a lover, a friend, a mother, and, finally, in herself. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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When she was born her mother was so young, still a girl herself, didn't know what to do with her. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Carole Biggs on 24 Jan. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Author, Neil Gaiman, once said that we are unable to re-experience the fairy stories told (or read) to us in our childhood. I think this is true, but what Block has done is re-invent the stories and made them once again new to adult eyes. Block is not a widely recognized author in the UK and I have to wonder why, because this book is full of insight and universal truths, qualities which make for good stories. In Block's book a character named Snow is raised by men who are short by the world's standard and are labeled as freaks. This is the harsh reality of the world mixed with what we think of as fantasy. In The Rose and the Beast you will meet; Snow, Tiny, Glass, Charm, Wolf, Rose, Bones, Beast, and Ice. These stories are fantastic re-tellings of stories that you may instantly remember and some that you might have to think about. Rose White and Rose Red realize that sometimes we have to let go. These are fairy tales set in urban landscapes and the characters in the stories learn something. They are not just passive observors on the way to Wonderland. Compared to Block's other books this is the best I have read since The Hanged Man or Girl Goddess Number Nine. Perhaps, it is the subject matter that is so interesting, because Block's writing is always so unique and appeals to all senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. This book will not only appeal to young adults but older young adults (I'm 23) and adults and anyone who loves fairy stories or loves this world that is often stranger than fiction. It is too bad that this American author is virtually unrecognized in this country. She has been published around the world, and there is a reason for that.
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Format: Paperback
I adore the books of Francesca Lia Block. She has a whimsical way of writing that pulls you into the story and makes them magic.

In 'The Rose and the Beast' Francesca Lia Block re-tells classical fairytales in a modern setting. The stories are fairly altered from the classical versions, so though you will recognize their origins, do not expect them to be the same. Additionally the stories are quite edgy and are geared toward an older audience, this is not a children's book. However the beauty of the book, for me, was that it brought me back into that child like fairytale state of mind. I truly enjoyed reading this book.
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Jan. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was hoping for a really good book, and instead I got a wierd boring lifeless one, I could barely finish it!!!! Francesca Lia Block is a very talented writer and I have read many of her previous books but this one was terrible!!!!!! I coudln't get into any of the stories!!!!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 77 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
For teens and adults 17 Sept. 2000
By Heidi Anne Heiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding
Here is a book reminiscent of Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber" and Tanith Lee's "Red As Blood." These retellings of popular fairy tales are placed in modern settings with heroines well-established in the harsh lessons in life. While their experiences can be brutal, the heroines triumph and give hope to their readers. Be warned that these are not the gentler stories of Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine. However, Block and fairy tale fans (whether you are one or the other or both!) will enjoy this short story collection.
Nine tales are offered including Little Red Riding Hood ("Wolf"), Beauty and the Beast ("Beast"), Thumbelina ("Tiny"), Bluebeard ("Bones"), Sleeping Beauty ("Charm"), Snow White ("Snow"), Snow Queen ("Ice"), and Cinderella ("Glass").
Readers might also be interested in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's "Wolf at the Door," Emma Donoghue's "Kissing the Witch," and Donna Jo Napoli's "Zel."
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Dark, Stunning Collection of Tales 8 July 2003
By R. M. Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
'The Rose and the Beast' was my first look into the writing of Francesca Lia Block, and I was immediatly captivated by both her style and tone and her insurpassable use of imagery, and her ability to make old fairytales into new, darker and profound creations. It is gradually becoming clear in the general world of literature that fairytales in their original form were not at all intended for children, and the advent of sweet little fairytales, beginning with the Brothers Grimm and accumulating in the works of Enid Blyton, are gradually heading back to what they were originally used for - deep insights into the minds and souls of human beings as a whole. With that in mind, Francesca Lia Block perfectly captures their essence and meaning.
The cover art also captures this regard for fairytales - the front shows a beautiful young woman - but to turn the book around and see her lower half, one can see her hands are talons. Needless to say, this book is *not* for children.
There are nine tales in this volume, four of which are set in an entirely fairytale world, separate from our own, (Snow, Glass, Rose, Beast) and five of which are 'misplaced' fairytales, being played out in our contemporary world (Tiny, Charm, Wolf, Bones, Ice).
Snow is a retelling of Snow White, which highlights a new angle on the tale - bringing forth not the love of Snow White's mother or her lover, but that which the old stories always forget to mention - that of the affection between Snow and the seven dwarfs. My favourite quotes, first when the dwarfs look upon her as a baby "they knew then that she was the love they had been seeking in every face forever before this", and when it is pointed out "She loved them. This is what no one tells. She loved them."
Tiny is a reworking of Thumbelina. A mother looses eight children to death, but her ninth child is the size of her thumb, though "there was a perfectly normal heartbeat flickering on the screen like a miniature star". Tiny grows, unaware of her difference, till she sees her first male - a young man, searching for his Muse. Falling in love, Tiny appoints herself a Hero, and goes after him...
Glass is a stunning retelling of Cinderella, in which our heroine is caught between the safety and predictability of her sisters, and the love she finds with her own Prince Charming. A natural storyteller, she is unawares of how easy she is to love, of her gift to transform, and of how she can change herself from sand into something clear and pure - like glass.
Charm is the dark and disturbing tale based on Sleeping Beauty, in which the spindle is a heroin needle, and thrown into a world of drugs, photographs and glamour. But in this case, Sleeping Beauty *cannot* sleep, and only one person in the world can help her find rest, and awaken her from her nightmare.
Wolf is Little Red Riding Hood, where a Stepfather takes the place of a wolf, and threatens the lives of a young girl and her mother. Running for the desert and her grandmother, the heroine finds that she has to face her greatest fear, when he turns up at her one place of sanctuary.
Rose is the tale of Rose White and Rose Red, the dearest of friends, and the inevitable breaking of their friendship when one of them falls in love. It is simple, heartbreaking and yet utterly true in its message - the everchanging role of love and connections with other people. If you are familiar with the story, you may be saddened by the loss of the character of the dwarf that hinders the girls so badly, but the great black bear is still intact.
Bones is perhaps the most ambigious of the stories simply because it is based on "Bluebeard", a tale that many may not know. The old story goes that a young woman marries Bluebeard who tells her she can go anywhere in the house expect in a particular room. Needless to say, the instant he leaves the house she open the door...and finds the bodies of his previous wives. In this case, Bluebeard is Derrick Blue, a talent scout who lures young women to his home in order to do what the original Bluebeard did. For a girl who begins wishing she was in a fairytale as "at least the girls in the stories were alive before they died", she ends vowing to listen to the tales of the 'bones' of the previous victims, and let their stories be known.
Beast is another favourite of mine, with the fascinating angle of having Beauty prefer the beast to the man he changes into. The imagery in this one is also beautiful, as Beauty becomes more and more wild and "tries to retrain herself from licking her hand as if it were a paw."
But Francesca saves the best for last. In Ice, based on the Snow Queen, we meet two lovers utterly enveloped in each other, until K. is lured away by the perfect beauty of the Snow Queen. Francesca excells herself here with the potency of her words - a girl too afraid to fight for her love as she is convinced something as perfect as their love cannot possibily last, a boy trapped between two women, and of course, the regal Ice Queen that we've all met in our own lives at one time or another, and her ability to make us see the worst in ourselves. This is my utterly favourite short story of all time. Read it!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A moving and tearjerking novel 31 Dec. 2000
By "singingdiva29" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I loved this collection of retold fairytales with heroines who deal with today issues like abusive fathers(in the story Wolf)as well as bringing to life the sorrows and triumphs in each woman's story. I loved this book...some of the stories were so moving that I cried. I would not recommend this novel for children under thirteen because the book deals with heroin, swearing and even a little rape. The book was one of the best that I've ever read, and if you are debating the issue of buying it, don't hesitate.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Lyrical Retelling of Fairy Tales 19 Jan. 2004
By K. Woodworth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found Francesca Lia Block quite by accident. I was looking online to see what Suza Scalora (one of my favorite artist/photographers) had illustrated - to see if she had published any other books (in addition to her Fairies and other book) - and I noticed she had illustrated the front cover of The Rose and the Beast (it's a gorgeous photo illustration, by the way).
This collection of "fairy tales retold" by Block was intriguing. I have long been retelling fairy tales in a weird and twisted way, so I was naturally curious as to how Block treated it, and wondered if she was a "sister spirit" in writing. Reading about Block, I noticed she was placed by publishers in a strange liminal zone where she wasn't quite treated as a writer for an adult audience (fairy tales are always treated as childish in the Western world), but she was too dark and real for children. She now has a very avid fandom of young adult females.
The Rose and the Beast had some dark adult undercurrents in its pages, but nothing too horrifying for women coming-of-age. Inside her pages are stories of Sleeping Beauty pricking herself with heroin needles, Bluebeard the serial killer and Little Red Riding Hood's Wolf as a child molester and wife-beater. Many of the other stories were less intense - but frankly, I liked the stories that touched upon the more violent and sadistic side of society better. There was something more satisfying about them.
I found "Wolf" to be very suspenseful and intriguing - it had a genius quality - a story that flowed so easily it seemed the author wrote it quickly and in a deep trance. The voice of the narrator was very raw - it seemed honest and real. One paragraph reads: "I don't know what else I said, but I do know that he started laughing at me, this hideous tooth laugh, and I remembered him above me in that bed with his clammy hand on my mouth and his ugly ugly weight and me trying to keep hanging on because I wouldn't let him take my mom away, that was the one thing he could never do and now he had..." (p. 127-128)
"Bones" was another one of the stories I just loved. It begins with "I dreamed of being a part of the stories-even the terrifying ones, even horror stories-because at least the girls in stories were alive before they died." (p. 153) Bones continues with "We were all over his house. On the floor and the couches and tables and beds. He had music blasting from speakers everywhere and I let it take me like when I was at shows, thrashing around, losing the weight of who I was - the self-consciousness and anxiety, to the sound. He said, You're so tiny, like a doll, you look like you might break. I wanted him to break me. Part of me did. He said, I can make you whatever you want to be. I wanted him to. But what did I want to be?"
As you continue to read, you discover that "Derrick Blue" is a modern-day Bluebeard, collecting bones in deranged, serial killer fashion...And the story gains in suspense while you root for the female narrator to escape his Casanova clutches.
Block ends her book with a punch in her story "Ice". It first reads: "She came that night like every girl's worst fear, dazzling frost star ice queen. Tall and with that long silver blond hair and a flawless face, a perfect body in white crushed velvet and a diamond snowflake tiara." How many hordes of young women can relate to their hearts getting run over as the men (or boys) they love fall for an "ice queen"?
Block's genius is that she writes in a down-to-earth, yet metaphorical fashion for her readership: the young female. She finds the archetypal themes still threading through contemporary society and shines light on them, while catching a raw and honest young woman's voice, as if in snapshot.
About the only weak link that I found was her story Charm. I got a little lost in Charm and wasn't always certain - or interested - in what was happening. It could have been my mind-state at the time however, and the other stories were well worth it, so I should give Charm another chance.
I'm now another fan of Francesca Lia Block, for her modern-day risks in lyricism, her magical realism, her metaphorical, mythical themes, her archetypal yet fleshed out characters...Since The Rose and the Beast is divvied into 9 stories, her book is both a fast intriguing read, and one you can easily put down if you are interrupted constantly by a busy lifestyle. The book is definitely worth buying, and in this case, you can tell a book by its cover!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A New Touch Of Your Imagination 31 Dec. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Her descriptiveness, is beautiful. her staries are absolutly fantastic, this was the first book of hers I bought, and after this, I was hooked, i read it the first night I got it, in my bathtub, with candles lit, it was the perfect book for a soothing atmosphere, and I think my favrite story was Tiny, and Snow. Her work is fabulous! I totally recomend it, but it does have its dark parts just like L.A. so be open-minded! But it is a work of art!
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