Publisher: HarperCollins (1978)
Hardcover (247 pages)
Reading Challenges: 2015 Birthday Month, 2015 Fairytale Retelling, 2015 Re-Reading, Read 2015
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?
A gifted storyteller embellishes the classic tale, developing a new and very real world of her own in a love story that has all the wonder and magic of the fairy tale.
Find the book: Goodreads
I adore this book. I remember first coming across it in the school library while looking for a nonfiction book to fill a reading requirement. Yep, this book was among the nonfiction books in the Dewey Decimal System. I remember my school librarian telling me it was there because it was classified as a fairy tale.
This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is stellar. The book came out years before the Disney adaptation of the fairy tale and I can definitely see the parallels there, even in the small things: Beauty’s horse, the library, the birds, ect. It has been quite awhile since I read the original fairy tale but I would say, from what I remember, this is an accurate retelling.
One of the main reasons I enjoy this book so much is the character of Beauty. She is so likeable, so real. She is oblivious about some things and crazy intelligent about others. She is a very real person with faults as well as strengths.
In this retelling I love that Beauty has sisters and is willing to sacrifice herself to the Beast to save them as well as her father. The family dynamics work and create a compelling reason for some of Beauty’s choices.
I felt sorry for the Beast throughout the story. Maybe that is because I know how the fairy tale is supposed to go and so I wanted Beauty to see him as trapped in a curse. He is always acting from kindness even when he doesn’t have to.
I cannot end this review without mentioning Greatheart, Beauty’s amazing horse. This horse is so loyal to Beauty and would do anything to please her. He is just the kind of friend that everyone needs, even if he is a horse.
In order to analyze the text and make these connections, there may be some spoilers.
Please do not continue reading unless you have already read the book
or you don’t mind if you read some spoilers.
Beauty demonstrates immense self-sacrifice. She is willing to give herself over to the Beast to save her father and her sisters. She knows that her one sister is married with an infant and the other sister is a greater help around the house than Beauty herself. Beauty sees herself as the least useful member of the family. She acknowledges her weaknesses and uses them to convince her family. She knows she will likely never see them again and yet she still sacrifices herself for them. I would add that she makes this decision even when she thinks the Beast is just going to eat her.
There is also a great lesson on the sanctity of marriage in this book. Every evening the Beast asks Beauty to marry him and every evening Beauty says no. Even once Beauty becomes friends with the Beast she still refuses to marry him. It isn’t until Beauty realizes how much the Beast means to her that she finally agrees to become his wife. And it is only them that the Beast resumes his human form when Beauty has agreed to marry him as a Beast.
- You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge
- Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge
- Fairytale Retelling Challenge (Beauty and the Beast)
- Birthday Month Reading Challenge (November)