14 Sep 2018

BEAUTY.


BEAUTY by ROBIN MCKINLEY.


Beauty has never lived up to her name. Pale, thin and awkward, she has no interest in pretty gowns or handsome suitors, and spends her days lost in the books that are her most treasured friends.

But all that is about to change. For when Beauty's father loses his way in the dark forest and finds himself in the clutch of a terrible Beast, Beauty becomes entangled in a story more bewitching than any she has ever read: one of bitter revenge, dangerous magic, a powerful curse and of a love so transcendent that it can reveal the true beauty in everything.
- Back Cover Blurb

I was the youngest of three daughters.
-First Sentence, Part One; Chapter One

I was also, for all my scholarship, not entirely free of the city-bred belief that the north was a land rather overpopulated by goblins and magicians, who went striding about the countryside muttering wild charms. In the city magic was more discreetly contained, in little old men and women with bright eyes, who made up love potions and cures for warts in return for modest sums.
- Memorable Moment, Page 17

SOURCE ... Given to me by a friend, thanks Aspen.

READ FOR A REVIEW? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... Hmm! A re-telling of the classic story that is Beauty and the Beast.

Worried that I may actually be getting a lot long in the tooth for this genre but then you're never too old for fairy tales, right?

Right, one is never too old for fairy tales. In fact in some ways I think I actually appreciate them more now than I did as a girl when perhaps some of the undercurrents were lost on me.

Concerned that this might be yet another author who, no longer an adolescent themselves, gives a voice to a teenager and does so badly.

Here narrated in the first person; the words those of Beauty herself. I felt that, on the whole, the author did the character justice; I certainly related to Beauty in a way that I hadn't perhaps done in other versions. My only major gripe being the use of the word 'Okay' which somehow felt totally at odds with the rest of the book.

Asking myself why, when there are so many stories  out there waiting to be told, do we have the rehashing of so many 'old' stories?

Beauty and The Beast, a story old as time ...

Sorry, perhaps a bit blasé of me to make reference to a song from the Disney version but it illustrates my point that, whilst many of us will know the traditional story, for some the animated version is the only version of the story they know (and, sadly, perhaps ever will know); if nothing else, this version by Robin McKinley, though written over quarter of a century ago, is a 'modern' interpretation, Beauty, a believable heroine.

Written in three parts. Whilst doubtlessly a plus to some minds; the author spent more time on Beauty pre the Beast which, though it perhaps helped the reader understand the character's motivation a little, I felt it did little to actually enhance the story any (if at all). Then there was the fact that, weighed down by copious amounts of description; the book dragged on at times. And as for the ending? I think 'meh' pretty much sums it up. However, that said ...

Essentially, a book I enjoyed more than I had expected to. 

I really liked the fact that we don't begin with the premise that Beauty (not her real name by the way but a childhood nick-name that kind of stuck) is someone to be pitied. She isn't bothered by the afore mentioned nick-name (well not a lot and certainly not so that it defines her life), she's loved, she's clever, she's witty with a keen sense of irony and, most of all .... she's a bookworm. YAY!

As for the Beast ...

Its always been the Beast that has intrigued me; his, well, beastliness, his vulnerability (the latter being something the author portrays beautifully) a winning combination as far as I'm concerned.


7 comments:

Kelly said...

Trying to re-tell a classic fairy tale can be hit or miss, so I'm glad this version worked for you. It's one of my younger daughter's favorites, so perhaps I should tell her about this book.

Suko said...

Tracy, I like that Beauty is a bookworm, too. That helps a good deal! Thanks for another well-written review.

Brian Joseph said...

I agree that fairytales can, and often are, better appreciated by adults. There is usually a lot going on in them.

This sounds good.

As Suko alludes to, a protagonist who is a bookworm is very appealing.

Literary Feline said...

This is the most beloved retelling of Beauty and the Beast in many circles it would seem and has been recommended to me a number of times. One of these days I will read it.

nightwingsraven said...

Tracy,
I read Beauty a few years ago
and still have it on my shelves.
I agree with your judgement of
the book and also with what you
said about the re-hashing of 'old'
stories. And I share your preference
for the Beast. As well as that I am
with you and Suko about Beauty being
a bookworm.
As for Beauty and the Beast on the small-
and silver screen, I greatly appreciated
the Disney version, as well as Jean
Cocteau's classic film featuring Jean Marais
and Josette Day and the television series
with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman.
And thank you for your excellent and honest
review.
Raven

Melliane said...

I'm always intrigued by retellings

Karen Alderman said...

I haven't read this yet but I loved McKinley's vampire novel Sunshine.

Karen @ For What It's Worth