Beauty by

18 September 2011

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Rated :

A retelling of the story of Beauty & the beast

Read for this year’s RIP challenge. Check out the RIP review site.

Honour is the youngest of three girls. Her mother died soon after the birth of a fourth daughter, as did the baby, when Honour was only a toddler. Her father is a very successful business man, and has built up wealth and status in the city. Honour herself feels that she doesn’t live up to her nickname of beauty, but that is what everyone has called her since she was five years old, so Beauty she remains. All seems to be going well with the family when disaster strikes. Three of her father’s ships & investments are lost, and they are forced to leave the city and set up home in the country. All three girls must learn to work hard if they are to get by, but none shirk their duty.

As they are settling in to their new home and new circumstances news arrives. A ship has made it back. Their father sets off to finish his business, but on his way back home he becomes lost in a storm. He finds safety in a strange, enchanted castle, but upon leaving its gates he sees a rose garden. Remembering his youngest daughter’s desire for some rose seeds he plucks one. Only for the enraged owner of the castle to accuse him if betraying his welcome. This beast threatens to kill the rose thief, but eventually relents saying that he may leave, provided he returns with his youngest daughter who must stay with the beast.

Beauty by Robin McKinleyI’m guessing that I didn’t need to relate that to you, after all, pretty much every one is familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast. This version, published back in 1978 is an adaptation of that classic fairy tale. But you will find no squabbling sisters, or petty jealousies. All the girls are loving sisters and daughters. And there are no evil stepmothers. What a relief!

I enjoyed this book, but it felt a little uneven to me. Some aspects were almost too practical for the sudden magical elements in it. The enchanted castle and curse upon the Beast didn’t seem to fit with the start of the book at all.

A nice, enjoyable read, but not McKinley’s best. It was her first so that can be excused

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10 Responses

  1. Kailana says:

    I enjoyed this book, but didn't love it. I really must read more from McKinley at some point. She is well represented on my TBR pile and I have only read like 2 of her books.
    Kailana´s last blog post ..Week in Review (33) and Short Story Sunday – Week 2

  2. Caroline says:

    I always wanted to read something by her. Which one would you recommend?
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Alois Hotschnig: Maybe This Time – Die Kinder beruhigte das nicht (2006) Short Stories

  3. deslily says:

    The first Beauty and the Beast movie I ever saw was when I was a kid (back when broadway was a prairie).. it was the 1946 black and white version Directed by: Jean Cocteau, Writers: Jean Cocteau (dialogue), Jean Cocteau translated from French. The movie moved me very much even though I was most likely under 10 yrs old when I saw it. No other film version seemed to measure up to me but when TV brought the *series* up to date I was once again in love with the story. However I cannot make myself read "other versions"…not sure why …
    deslily´s last blog post ..The Edinburgh Dead

  4. Fence says:

    I really liked her The Hero and The Crown ( ) and Sunshine is great too.

  5. Fence says:

    I've never seen that film version, of the TV series, but I watched the Disney version for the Once Upon a Time challenge and really enjoyed it.

  6. Harlequin says:

    That Cocteau film is supposed to be an all-time classic. I've never seen it either. For another versions of Beauty and the Beast, look into the story of Cupid and Psyche, which was the forerunner. CS Lewis wrote a version of it called Til We Have Faces which was quite lovely.

    • Fence says:

      Supposedly a remake of the Ron Perlman one is being made. G R R Martin is not happy about it. He had the vaguest of vague thoughts about revisiting his version at some point.

  7. Kate says:

    I read this so many years ago that your review brought back a lot of fond memories! I loved this book when I was younger (pre-teen or so) but for some reason never read any more McKinley, even though she gets a lot of blog-love these days. Hearing that this was her first novel makes me think I need to revisit this author since I adored this book so much.

    Thanks for the review, and the trip down memory lane!
    Kate´s last blog post ..Never Let Me Go: Kazuo Ishiguro