I am back in the book saddle!!! After a long two weeks not finding anything that sparked my interest I have read three books in the last two days. Sometimes you just have to take a step back. I took a little friend of mine to see the new Disney remake of Beauty and the Beast. I am not a huge Disney fan but this was an enjoyable remake. And it spurned me to look into the story that started it all.
There are dozens of retellings of the tale as old as time. In fact, while researching for this post I found multiple blogs ranking the retellings as well as a Goodreads list of 122 of the top retellings of Beauty and the Beast. My favorite list however has to be from book riot.com.
I was surprised by the number and variety of this story. Truthfully, I have never been a fan. Beautiful girl is kept captive by a cruel hideous man-beast but since she is now living in the lap of luxury she….sigh…..feels bad for him and grudgingly comes to love him. Then he is pretty too! Barf.
But, Robin McKinley’s Beauty is the retelling that makes me believe in the fairy tale. Here, Beauty is a nickname given to the least pretty of a trio of sisters. She is dedicated to her family and her education above anything else. Their merchant father is rich, due to his vast shipping empire, and the older two daughters have fallen in love and life looks grand. Then, the shipping empire crumbles and the the family is forced to move to the country and live a much more simple life.
In the country their new home is on the edge of the forest. They must scrub their own floors and make their own food and work and work. But, because they love each other it is all working out and they are happy. Until dear old Dad wanders into the forest and we meet the Beast and his demands.
From here the storyline becomes more familiar but still contains elements unique enough to be interesting. I won’t spoil it but I really enjoyed the Beast and the cast of (limited) characters that live in the castle. If Beauty is not so pretty, the Beast is, likewise, not so awful. He is kind and gentle from the start. Still hideous though.
I think that if you enjoyed Disney’s original or new live action Beauty and the Beast you will, likewise find Beauty to be a good story. But, if you just really can’t see the appeal of Belle this story might be right up your alley. And, don’t worry, the author didn’t neglect the amazing library.