Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley
Published in 1978
Recommended Age Group: 12 and Up
Summary: Beauty is a nickname Honour received when she was five and found herself unfit to carry the name. Her sisters Grace and Hope received, in her mind at least, all the beauty the family had to offer. Beauty’s mother died when she was young and her father Roderick Huston, was a successful businessman who owned many ships. Four of these ships set sail on a three year long journey taking with them Grace’s love Robbie whom she promised to wait for and marry him when he returned. Disaster struck the four ships and Robbie was presumed dead and the family lost all of their money in out swoop. Gervain, Hope’s secret love, came and told the family there was work for the father as a carpenter in the country where we was moving to be a blacksmith. The family fortunes were auctioned and they moved out. They were successful because of their skill and the great need that village and surrounding villages had for them both. Hope and Gervain married a year after the move and were blessed with twins shortly there after.
Roderick received word that one of his ships had survived the storm and he went to town to deal with the business. Grace thought it might be Robbie’s ship and was excited for their father’s return. He returned in late March during a blizzard looking forlorn and with a mysterious story. He took a shortcut thought the woods on the way home, something the locals would never do for fear of the woods, and came upon an enchanted castle that gave him everything he desired and more. It was while he was leaving that he thought of Beauty’s request for some rose seeds and his inability to obtain them in the city. Right them he happened upon a rose garden and took one to give his daughter. The Beast came and was quite angry with him. He said that after all his hospitality how could he steal from him. The Beast told Roderick that he was to return in one month with one of his daughters or he would die.
Hearing the story Beauty decided that it should be her to go. She found herself useless around the house and was excited for the adventure. She never expected an adventure like this. The enchantments were strong and mysterious and every night before she went to bed the Beast asked her if she would marry him and every night she said no. They grew fonder of each other and things began to change for both of them but still she said no. One night she missed her family greatly and was able to see them in a looking glass. She also saw that Robbie was safe and had just made it home from a six-year journey. She asked permission and then rushed home to tell her family the news. The Beast said she could be gone a week but after that he would die. She stayed a little longer than a week with travel time and returned just in time to save the Beast’s life and see him transform into and older version of his old self. And they lived happily every after.
Personal Notes: This book was beautifully written. The most captivating that I’ve read in months. I loved the way that Beauty and her family did not live perfectly before the beast came. They had their struggles with loosing the family fortune and business and having to start all over. I also appreciated the view we got of the beast. He was interesting in Beauty’s family and did a lot to help them. It made him a more believable character. I was sorry to see it end not because I wasn’t left fulfilled but because I liked McKinley’s writing style so much. Over all it was truly enchanting and a pleasure right to the end.