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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 1 May 2017
I read this as a teenager and again now in my late 30s. It is a hugely enjoyable read, the main character Beauty has a very relatable modern mindset despite this being set in a fantasy past.
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on 7 May 2017
Loved this book when I first read it years ago. Still love it now. Robin McKinley writes a good story.
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on 26 April 2017
Loved the story, beautifully written and a new and different interpretation of an old timeless fairy tale - a gripping read.
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VINE VOICEon 6 April 2004
This book is a delightful retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. However, don’t assume that you know everything there is to know about this story already. In this version, Beauty is plain compared to her two elder sisters … and the beast is more sad and mysterious than frightening or beastly.
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!
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The best-known and best-loved of Robin McKinley's books is also one of the best of the fairy-tale retellings -- "Beauty," a more enlightened, fully-drawn version of "Beauty and the Beast." There's a depth and a richness to the story and characterizations, as well as a beauty of atmosphere and writing.

Beauty (real name is "Honour") is the ironically-named heroine of the story -- she isn't beautiful, but is very intelligent. She has two sisters, the beautiful Hope and Grace, and a benevolent, wealthy father. Then all their lives change suddenly: the ships their father owns are lost, and the money goes with them. One of the sisters marries a poor but worthy country lad, while the other lost her beloved fiancee who captained one of the ships. After selling their possessions the family moves to the countryside.

The father leaves on a trip -- and returns with a single rose, a gift for Beauty, which carries the price of either his life or his daughter. Beauty leaves to go live at the castle of the mysterious Beast, with only her plowhorse to accompany her. She arrives at a castle of invisible servants, magical books, friendly animals, and a melancholy Beast who asks her to marry him every evening...

There is nothing new in fairy tale retellings now, but when McKinley first wrote "Beauty," it was a relative rarity. And even now, few of them are as intelligently written and have such solid heroines. Rather than giving her story a contrived "twist," McKinley merely fleshes out the storyline and gives the characters personalities.

The writing is excellent; McKinley writes the more prosaic passages of cottage life and the surrounding friendly village, as well as the more dreamlike, fantastical scenes in the Beast's castle. Lots of atmosphere, either in the poor but warm surroundings of the house, or the eerie feel of the castle.The dialogue is nearly flawless: McKinley doesn't write ye-olde-formal prose, but the characters never sound -- or think -- like modern Americans.

Beauty is a great heroine -- brainy, kind, wry-humored, brave and strong. Though the "Beauty" element is discarded, it is done so with the apparent understanding that this "Beauty" has brains and guts rather than a pretty face. The Beast himself is a little more shadowy; we never get inside his head the way we do Beauty's, but then the book is hers, not his. Beauty's father and sisters are equally well-done, avoiding the cliches of nastiness in favor of being likable or haunted.

Robin McKinley's debut "Beauty" is still among the best-loved fairy-tale retellings. With the help of a gutsy, brainy heroine, it rises above a mere retelling and becomes THE retelling.
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on 11 July 2005
When I first read this book I found that it was better than anything Disney could possibly come up with. It was somewhat entertaining and suspenseful at times. As an original story it is very good. As a retelling, however, it has many flaws. Most people think they know the story of Beauty And The Beast, but they don't. if more people would just read the original stories instead of the "reader's digest" versions they would understand these stories better. I am not very interested in retellings because the story and the characters are taken out of context. The Disney film, for example, was extremely disappointing. A retelling in which the story and the characters stay within the context of the original story would be more satisfying. I do not recommend this book for those who enjoy and are interested in the traditional folk Tales and stories. I do recommend Jack Zipes's excellent collection Beauty And The Beast And Other Classic French Fairy Tales. However, Beauty is a good book for those people who like Romance Novels.
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on 21 December 2015
50/50 on this book. Loved the beginning and middle. Loved how in depth the writer was with the story and characters. But the end was one HUGE anti-climax. Seriously disappointing. It's almost like the writer was so enthused about writing the story and really went for it, but then when they came to the end, just got bored and rushed it. If the author had kept up that enthusiasm to the very end, it would have fast become one of the best books i'd read.
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on 6 February 2010
I first ordered 'Beauty' after reading Alex Flinn's 'Beastly'. After reading the modern day Beauty and the Beast retelling i found myself looking for another good read. After now reading them I've found new favourites in them both.

Beauty was a different kind of read for me, it was casually paced and while i originally wouldn't have described it as an addictive read (i took my time reading the first few chapters) i later found myself reading more than half the book in one go from about 2 until 5am last night and finishing the book.

Beauty's Beast far more subdued a character than anything i was expecting. He wasn't angry, more sad and lonely. Beauty wasn't beautiful but intelligent and compassionate. Having only ever watched Disney's Beauty and the Beast (which is still an old favourite) and never read the original i found both retellings to be refreshing and pleasantly surprising.
I'd definitely read Beauty and Beastly again.
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on 12 June 1999
I love this book. I read a lot and I rarely read books over more than once, but this was a major exception. I'm not too good looking myself ( unless you ask my parents=-).) but I am intelligent, I'm on honour roll and i hate romance... I love this book. I'm 16 years old and I am a bookaholic, a bibliophile. Read this book, you don't know what you're missing
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on 14 June 1997
I have searched used book stores for this book for years-imagine my delight at finding new copies available! This is a book for book lovers. The characters of Beauty and the Beast, which have become archetypal in the West, are rejuvenated and recreated, making the story a surprise even to those of us who know and love it well. McKinley's humor is very engaging and her characters' emotions are palpable. Most importantly, however, this is a story with which all devoted readers can sympathise, for Beauty loves books, of which she can never get enough. Stories of antiquity and the process of storytelling infuse McKinley's narrative, and one can clearly see the influence that story has on other stories, particularly on the stories of our lives. This is a living book, and a magical one.
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