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Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

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Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

évaluations:
4.5/5 (197 évaluations)
Longueur:
243 pages
3 heures
Sortie:
Nov 18, 2014
ISBN:
9781497673700
Format:
Livre

Description

The New York Times–bestselling author of Rose Daughter reimagines the classic French fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast.

I was the youngest of three daughters. Our literal-minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour. . . . My father still likes to tell the story of how I acquired my odd nickname: I had come to him for further information when I first discovered that our names meant something besides you-come-here. He succeeded in explaining grace and hope, but he had some difficulty trying to make the concept of honour understandable to a five-year-old. . . . I said: ‘Huh! I’d rather be Beauty.’ . . . 

By the time it was evident that I was going to let the family down by being plain, I’d been called Beauty for over six years. . . . I wasn’t really very fond of my given name, Honour, either . . . as if ‘honourable’ were the best that could be said of me. 

The sisters’ wealthy father loses all his money when his merchant fleet is drowned in a storm, and the family moves to a village far away. Then the old merchant hears what proves to be a false report that one of his ships had made it safe to harbor at last, and on his sad, disappointed way home again he becomes lost deep in the forest and has a terrifying encounter with a fierce Beast, who walks like a man and lives in a castle. The merchant’s life is forfeit, says the Beast, for trespass and the theft of a rose—but he will spare the old man’s life if he sends one of his daughters: “Your daughter would take no harm from me, nor from anything that lives in my lands.” When Beauty hears this story—for her father had picked the rose to bring to her—her sense of honor demands that she take up the Beast’s offer, for “cannot a Beast be tamed?”

This “splendid story” by the Newbery Medal–winning author of The Hero and the Crown has been named an ALA Notable Book and a Phoenix Award Honor Book (Publishers Weekly).
 
Sortie:
Nov 18, 2014
ISBN:
9781497673700
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Her other books include the New York Times bestseller Spindle’s End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; Deerskin, another novel-length fairy-tale retelling, of Charles Perrault’s Donkeyskin; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson; three dogs (two hellhounds and one hell terror); an 1897 Steinway upright; and far too many rosebushes.

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Beauty - Robin McKinley

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Part One

1

I was the youngest of three daughters. Our literal-minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour, but few people except perhaps the minister who had baptized all three of us remembered my given name. My father still likes to tell the story of how I acquired my odd nickname: I had come to him for further information when I first discovered that our names meant something besides you-come-here. He succeeded in explaining grace and hope, but he had some difficulty trying to make the concept of honour understandable to a five-year-old. I heard him out, but with an expression of deepening disgust; and when he was finished I said: Huh! I’d rather be Beauty. He laughed; and over the next few weeks told everyone he met this story of his youngest child’s precocity. I found that my ill-considered opinion became a reality; the name at least was attached to me securely.

All three of us were pretty children, with curly blond hair and blue-grey eyes; and if Grace’s hair was the brightest, and Hope’s eyes the biggest, well, for the first ten years the difference wasn’t too noticeable. Grace, who was seven years older than I, grew into a beautiful, and profoundly graceful, young girl. Her hair was wavy and fine and luxuriant, and as butter-yellow as it had been when she was a baby (said doting friends of the family), and her eyes were long-lashed and as blue as a clear May morning after rain (said her doting swains). Hope’s hair darkened to a rich chestnut-brown, and her big eyes turned a smoky green. Grace was an inch or two the taller, and her skin was rosy where Hope’s was ivorypale; but except for their dramatic coloring my sisters looked very much alike. Both were tall and slim, with tiny waists, short straight noses, dimples when they smiled, and small delicate hands and feet.

I was five years younger than Hope, and I don’t know what happened to me. As I grew older, my hair turned mousy, neither blond nor brown, and the baby curl fell out until all that was left was a stubborn refusal to co-operate with the curling iron; my eyes turned a muddy hazel. Worse, I didn’t grow; I was thin, awkward, and undersized, with big long-fingered hands and huge feet. Worst of all, when I turned thirteen, my skin broke out in spots. There hadn’t been a spot in our mother’s family for centuries, I was sure. And Grace and Hope went on being innocently and ravishingly lovely, with every eligible young man—and many more that were neither—dying of love for them.

Since I was the baby of the family I was a little spoiled. Our mother died less than two years after I was born, and our little sister Mercy died two weeks after her. Although we had a series of highly competent and often affectionate nursemaids and governesses, my sisters felt that they had raised me. By the time it was evident that I was going to let the family down by being plain, I’d been called Beauty for over six years; and while I came to hate the name, I was too proud to ask that it be discarded. I wasn’t really very fond of my given name, Honour, either, if it came to that: It sounded sallow and angular to me, as if honourable were the best that could be said of me. My sisters were too kind to refer to the increasing inappropriateness of my nickname. It was all the worse that they were as good-hearted as they were beautiful, and their kindness was sincerely meant.

Our father, bless him, didn’t seem to notice that there was any egregious, and deplorable, difference between his first two daughters and his youngest. On the contrary, he used to smile at us over the dinner table and say how pleased he was that we were growing into three such dissimilar individuals; that he always felt sorry for families who looked like petals from the same flower. For a while his lack of perception hurt me, and I suspected him of hypocrisy; but in time I came to be grateful for his generous blindness. I could talk to him openly, about my dreams for the future, without fear of his pitying me or doubting my motives.

The only comfort I had in being my sisters’ sister was that I was the clever one. To a certain extent this was damning me with faint praise, in the same category as accepting my given name as an epithet accurately reflecting my limited worth—it was the best that could be said of me. Our governesses had always remarked on my cleverness in a pitying tone of voice. But at least it was true. My intellectual abilities gave me a release, and an excuse. I shunned company because I preferred books; and the dreams I confided to my father were of becoming a scholar in good earnest, and going to University. It was unheard of that a woman should do anything of the sort—as several shocked governesses were only too quick to tell me, when I spoke a little too boldly—but my father nodded and smiled and said, We’ll see. Since I believed my father could do anything—except of course make me pretty—I worked and studied with passionate dedication, lived in hope, and avoided society and mirrors.

Our father was a merchant, one of the wealthiest in the city. He was the son of a shipwright, and had gone to sea as a cabin boy when he was not yet ten years old; but by the time he was forty, he and his ships were known in most of the major ports of the world. When he was forty, too, he married our mother, the Lady Marguerite, who was just seventeen. She came of a fine old family that had nothing but its bloodlines left to live on, and her parents were more than happy to accept my father’s suit, with its generous bridal settlements. But it had been a happy marriage, old friends told us girls. Our father had doted on his lovely young wife—my two sisters took after her, of course, except that her hair had been red-gold and her eyes amber—and she had worshiped him.

When I was twelve, and Grace was nineteen, she became engaged to our father’s most promising young captain, Robert Tucker, a blue-eyed, black-haired giant of twenty-eight. He set sail almost immediately after their betrothal was announced, on a voyage that was to take three long years but bode fair to make his fortune. There had been a Masque of Courtesy acted out among the three of them—Robbie, Grace, and Father—when the plans for the voyage and the wedding had first been discussed. Father suggested that they should be married right away, that they might have a few weeks together (and perhaps start a baby, to give Grace something to do while she waited the long months for his return) before he set sail. The journey could be delayed a little.

Nay, said Robbie, he wished to prove himself first; it was no man’s trick to leave his wife in her father’s house; if he could not care for her himself as she deserved, then he was no fit husband for her. But he could not yet afford a house of his own, and three years was a long time; perhaps she should be freed of the constraints of their betrothal. It was not fair to one so fair as she to be asked to wait so long. And then of course Grace in her turn stood up and said that she would wait twenty years if necessary, and it would be the greatest honour of her life to have the banns published immediately. And so they were; and Robbie departed a month later.

Grace told Hope and me at great length about this Masque, just after it happened. We sat over tea in Grace’s rose silk hung sitting room. Her tea service was very fine, and she presided over the silver urn like a grand and gracious hostess, handing round her favorite cups to her beloved sisters as if we too were grand ladies. I put mine down hastily; after years of taking tea with my sisters, I still eyed the little porcelain cups askance, and preferred to wait until I could return to my study and ring for my maid to bring me a proper big mug of tea, and some biscuits.

Hope looked vague and dreamy; I was the only one who saw any humour in Grace’s story—although I could appreciate that it had not been amusing for the principals—but then, I was the only one who read poetry for pleasure. Grace blushed when she mentioned the baby, and admitted that while Robbie was right, of course, she was a weak woman and wished—oh, just the littlest bit!—that they might have been married before he left. She was even more beautiful when she blushed. Her sitting room set her high color off admirably.

Those first months after Robbie set sail must have been very long ones for her. She who had been the toast of the town now went to parties very seldom; when Hope and Father protested that there was no need of her living like a nun; she smiled seraphically and said she truly didn’t wish to go out and mix with a great many people anymore. She spent most of her time setting her linen in order as she put it; she sewed very prettily—I don’t believe she had set a crooked stitch since she hemmed her first sheet at the age of five—and she already had a trousseau that might have been the envy of any three girls.

So Hope went out alone, with our chaperone, the last of our outgrown governesses, or sponsored by one of the many elderly ladies who thought she was just delightful. But after two years or so, it was observed that the incomparable Hope also began to neglect many fashionable gatherings; an incomprehensible development, since no banns had been published and no mysterious wasting diseases were whispered about. It was made comprehensible to me one night when she crept into my bedroom, weeping.

I was up late, translating Sophocles. She explained to me that she had to tell someone, but she couldn’t be so selfish as to bother Grace when she was preoccupied with Robbie’s safety—Yes, I understand, I said patiently, although I privately thought Grace would be the better for the distraction of someone else’s problems—but she, Hope, had fallen in love with Gervain Woodhouse, and was therefore miserable. I sorted out this curious statement eventually.

Gervain was an estimable young man in every way—but he was also an ironworker in Father’s shipyard. His family were good and honest people, but not at all grand, and his prospects were no more than modest. He had some ideas about the ballasting of ships, which Father admired, and had been invited to the house several times to discuss them, and then stayed on to tea or supper. I supposed that this was how he and my sister had met. I didn’t follow Hope’s account of their subsequent romance very well, and didn’t at all recognize her anguished lover as the reserved and polite young man that Father entertained. At any rate, Hope concluded, she knew Father expected her to make a great match, or at least a good one, but her heart was given.

Don’t be silly, I told her. Father only wants you to be happy. He’s delighted with the prospect of Robbie as a son-in-law, you know, and Grace might have had an earl.

Hope’s dimples showed. An elderly earl.

An earl is an earl, I said severely. Better than your count, who turned out to have a wife in the attic. If you think you’ll be happiest scrubbing tar out of burlap aprons, Father won’t say nay. And, I added thoughtfully, he will probably buy you several maids to do the scrubbing.

Hope sighed. You are not the slightest bit romantic.

You knew that already, I said. "But I do remind you that Father is not an ogre, as you know very well if you’d only calm down and think about it. He himself started as a shipwright; and you know that still tells against us in some circles. Only Mother was real society. Father hasn’t forgotten. And he likes Gervain."

Oh, Beauty, Hope said; but that’s not all. Ger only stays in the city for love of me; he doesn’t really like it here, nor ships and the sea. He was born and raised north of here, far inland. He misses the forests. He wants to go back, and be a blacksmith again.

I thought about this. It seemed like the waste of a first-class ironworker. 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. But if this didn’t bother Hope, there was no reason it should bother me.

I said at last: Well, we’ll miss you. I hope you won’t settle too far away—but it’s still not an insurmountable obstacle. Look here: Stop wringing your hands and listen to me. Would you like me to talk to Father about it first, since you’re so timid?

Oh, that would be wonderful of you, my brighteyed sister said eagerly. I’ve made Gervain promise not to say anything yet, and he feels that our continued silence is not right. It was a tradition in the family that I could get around Father best: I was the baby, and so on. This was another of my sisters’ tactful attempts at recompense for the way I looked, but there was some truth to it. Father would do anything for any of us, but my sisters were both a little in awe of him.

Umm, yes, I said, looking longingly at my books. I’ll talk to Father—but give me a week or so, will you please, since you’ve waited this long. Father’s got business troubles, as you may have noticed, and I’d like to pick my time.

Hope nodded, cheerful again, called me a darling girl, kissed me, and slipped out of the room. I went back to Sophocles. But to my surprise, I couldn’t concentrate; stories I’d heard of the northland crept in and disrupted the Greek choruses. And there was also the fact that Ger, safe and sensible Ger, found our local witches amusing; it was not that he laughed when they were mentioned, but that he became very still. In my role of tiresome little sister, I had harassed him about this, till he told me a little. Where I come from, any old wife can mix a poultice to take off warts; it’s something she learns from her mother with how to hem a shirt and how to make gingerbread. Or if she can’t, she certainly has a neighbor who can, just as her husband probably has a good useful spell or two to stuff into his scarecrow with the straw, to make it do its work a little better. He saw that he had his audience’s fixed attention, so he grinned at me, and added: There are even a few dragons left up north, you know. I saw one once, when I was a boy, but they don’t come that far south very often. Even I knew that dragons could do all sorts of marvelous things, although only a great magician could master one.

My opportunity to discuss Hope’s future with Father never arrived. The crash came only a few days after my sister’s and my midnight conversation. The little fleet of merchant ships Father owned had hit a streak of bad luck; indeed, since Robert Tucker had set sail in the White Raven three years ago, with the Windfleet, the Stalwart, and the Fortune’s Chance to bear her company, nothing had gone right. Shipments were canceled, crops were poor, revolutions disturbed regular commerce; Father’s ships were sunk in storms, or captured by pirates; many of his warehouses were destroyed, and the clerks disappeared or returned home penniless.

The final blow was a message brought by a weary, footsore man who had set sail as third mate on the Stalwart three years ago. The four ships had been driven apart by a sudden storm. The Stalwart and the Windfleet had been driven up on the shore and destroyed; only a handful of men survived. The Fortune’s Chance was later discovered to have been taken by pirates who found it lost and disabled after the storm. Of the White Raven there was no word, of ship or crew, but it was presumed lost. The captain of the Windfleet had survived the wreck of the two ships, but at the cost of a crushed leg that refused to heal. A year ago the sailor who stood now, shredding his hat with his hands, had been sent by that captain with one other man, to try and work their way home and deliver their messages, and an urgent plea for assistance, since written letters seemed to have gone astray. There had been a dozen men left alive when the pair had set out, but their situation, alone in a strange country, was precarious. The sailor’s companion had died by foul play, and he had heard nothing of the men he had left since shortly after his departure.

I don’t remember the next few weeks, after the sailor’s arrival, too well; nor do I regret that vagueness. I remember only too clearly that Father, who had been young and hearty, in a few days’ time came to look his age, which was past sixty; and poor Grace turned as white as cold wax when she heard the news, and went about the house like a silent nightmare, like the poor pale girls in old ballads who fade away until they are nothing more than grey omens to the living. Hope and I took turns trying to persuade our father and eldest sister to eat, and making sure that the fires in their rooms were well built up.

Father made plans to take what little remained to him and us and retire to the country, where we could make shift to live cheaply. His rapid rise in business wealth and success had been based on his ability to take calculated risks. He had run ventures very near to the line before, and always come about, and so he had refused to believe that he would not come about at the last moment this time too. Consequently, our ruin was complete, for he had kept nothing in reserve. What little he had available to him he used to try and cushion the fall for some of his best men; most of it was sent with the third mate from the Stalwart, to try and find the men he had left behind him and help them out of their difficulties. The man left on his return journey less than a week after his arrival, although Father urged him to stay and rest, and send someone else in his stead. But he was anxious to see himself how his fellow crew members fared, and he would have the best chance of finding them again; he did not say it, but we knew that he was also anxious to leave the sight of us and the ruin he had brought to us, although it was none of his creation or blame.

The house and lands were to be auctioned off; the money resulting would enable us to start again. But start what? Father was a broken man; he was now also labeled jinxed, and no other merchant would have anything to do with him, if he could have brought himself to work for another man. He had done no carpentry but trinkets for his daughters since he had given up shipbuilding for more lucrative business over thirty years ago; and he had no other marketable skills.

It was at this low ebb in our thoughts and plans that Gervain came to visit us; this was about a week after the man from the Stalwart had told his story. The four of us were sitting silent in the parlour after dinner; usually we talked, or Father or myself read aloud while my sisters sewed, but we had little heart for such amusements now. The auction had already been set, for a day late next week; and Father had begun looking for a little house

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  • (5/5)
    This is one of my favorite books. It was one of the first, if not the first fairy tale retelling that I read and I really enjoyed the way the story was twisted. I loved the way they focused on the roses a lot and the way that it felt like a real progression in a fantasy scenario. I would and have recommended this book to almost anyone.
  • (4/5)
    Here's a question for you. Do you enjoy an adaptation or a retelling more or less if you don't remember the details of the original? For me, I don't remember the details of Beauty and the Beast except to say the Disney version was centered around Belle, her sickly woodsman father, the Beast, and the talking tea kettle. I remember it also had singing furniture and, of course, a droopy rose was at the center of the story. McKinley's version has three daughters, Gracie, Hope and Honour. Honour, nicknamed Beauty, is the protagonist of the story and ironically, is not at all beautiful like her sisters. Instead she is homely, unromantic, and scholarly; the bravest and strongest of the bunch. Honour's father has fallen on hard times as a shipping merchant and the family must move to the country. Enter the proximity of an enchanted/haunted forest. We first learn about these mysterious woods when Ger becomes angry with Beauty about being in the woods of Blue Hill. To speed up the telling up the story you know so well: father runs into trouble in the enchanted forest, has a dust up with the Beast, and promises to send a daughter to the Beast to save his own hide. Beauty, being the bravest and most admirable, is the logical choice. Beauty falls in love with Beast despite his appearance and by turns becomes a looker herself. When she promises to marry Beast, the spell is broken. The end.
  • (5/5)
    Beauty's life is good, she lives with her father, her two sisters and her brother in law in a small cottage. However, when her father comes back from a trip, she finds that he has to sacrifice a daughter to the Beast that lives in the enchanted castle. Beauty sacrifices her life for her father's life and stays with the Beast and the mysterious moving furniture, candles and teacups. See my complete review at The Eclectic Review
  • (4/5)
    A very gentle retelling of B&B with the drama reduced to a minimum and the characters all as nice as they can be, which focuses on the interior journey of Beauty. I could have used a bit of neighborly nastiness or some other conflict beyond desire to be with lovely family vs desire to stay with new beau. The Disney version seemed to pluck Beauty's bookish nature from this iteration of the heroine, while maximizing the trouble of many of the previous versions.
  • (4/5)
    I recently reread this book for the first time in probably 20 years. I remembered it fondly, but was unsure if it would hold up after so many years. After all, Robin McKinley wrote Beauty decades before novel-length fairy tale retellings would become popular enough to form their own fantasy subgenre. However, I'm happy to say that even within a much more crowded field, this book is still a gem.
  • (5/5)
    Beauty also has brains and honour, a mix that makes a suitable heroine for this version of Beauty and the Beast. In this version readers are treated to just enough detail and several fun twists (ex. invisible maids). The storyline gently progresses from ignorance and fear through pity and stubbornness until it finally reaches a happy ending. But it's the little things that make this a book I wanted to own. The spice cake, the library ladder that wants so much to please, a young woman who realizes she's grown because she had to lengthen her stirrups... Not your average fairytale.
  • (5/5)
    Amazing read. Beauty is a girl who doesn't believe she is beautiful. When her father goes to the city and back he encounters a castle that he stays in. While there he encounters the Beast of the castle and the Beast tells him that either Beauty's father had to stay forever or one of his daughter's does. The Beast gave him a month to dec ided who is going. Beauty tells her father that she shall go tame the Beast. She soon grows fond of the Beast. A great retelling of the story Beauty and the Beast.
  • (4/5)
    Oh, Robin McKinley, I love you! This story has so much depth and, well, beauty. As in her other books, McKinley crafts a highly visual fantasy world that the reader inhabits right beside the protagonists. I should also add that the aspect of the book I was most impressed with was McKinley's ability to depict the Beast as both completely horrifying and strangely attractive. This line must be a very difficult one to walk, but she manages it. Finally, it's a testament to McKinley's power that, even knowing the tale's ending, I couldn't put this book down. Spellbinding.
  • (5/5)
    A very well written version of Beauty & the Beast
  • (4/5)
    A beautiful retelling. I think I would have appreciated more when I was younger.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed this book, and had the dilemma of wanting to finish it, and yet wanting it to keep going. I found the characters enjoyable, and the small twists that Mckinley puts into the fairy tale enchanting.

  • (3/5)
    I strangely read Rose Daughter before I read this. This was actually very late in my McKinley reading list, as such things go. Most people that I know read this first. As beautiful and touching as this retelling is, it totally pales for me beside both Rose Daughter and Spindle's End. I did really like being able to compare Rose Daughter and Beauty, so I'm glad I read them both and would encourage all McKinley fans (and anybody else in the world since these are some of my very favorite books and I tend to think the world would be a kinder, gentler, more peaceful and all round nicer place to be if everyone read McKinley) to do so. I'd like to read RD and B back to back sometime and really compare.
  • (5/5)
    This particular retelling of the "Beauty and the Beast" story is by far my favorite. I've given away copies of this book and I've read it several times over the years. It's an irresistible tale with a heroine just designed for the young geek girl I was (and still am, deep inside).

    McKinley took apart the basics of the story and added flesh and muscle to the durable bones. The heroine -- Honor -- isn't the typical Very Good Girl of Incredible Beauty, but a nerdy adolescent with brains and opinions and the ability to be wrong. The hero is also drawn with more nuance and depth than we typically get in this story. There are more characters, too. Honor has a family and she had friends. She has a complete life before magic befalls her. She's a person, not a symbol.

    To those familiar with the Disney movie version, some small (and not so small) items will seem familiar. Rumors and stories going around when the movie came out was that the script was originally based on this book, but that Disney -- in typical fashion -- altered the story so much that McKinley disassociated herself from it. I do not know if this is the case, but considering how much was taken whole from her book, I hope she got paid.
  • (2/5)
    Nice retelling of a story about beauty and a beast. Nothing new... A little too ordinary for my taste, I expected that writer would add some twist to the tale.
  • (5/5)
    What a great retelling of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. The author develops and brings the characters to life, something that traditional fairy tales are weak at.
  • (5/5)
    As a fan of fairy tales anyway I dived into this story and was not disappointed. The author takes on the beauty and beast story was very good and I enjoyed the difference in the stories sand felt the characters were well round and developed.I have since order 3 more books by this author.
  • (4/5)
    A pretty straightforward re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, in almost traditional shape, the opening prose is wonderfully captivating, before the more mundane fairy tale takes over.Beauty, born as Honour, along with her sisters also traditionally named, Grace and Hope, lives up to neither of her names, prefering an easy life amoung books with mugs of tea and biscuits. This life her rich merchant and doting father is easily able to provide her, along with balls and dainty social curtesies for her sisters. Until of course the inevitabel crash ahppens, and they are forced to flee in what only feels like abject penury, to a small village in the northern countryside. Rumours of gobins witches and magicians abound, but none are encountered. However the similar stories about the enchanted wood at the back of their house prove to be somewhat more mysterious., and the rest of the tale follows the traditional course.I don't actually know the original form of this fairytale, the Disney version being far too prolific (and feels very much based on this story), and a few other authors having taken various attempts at it, but the basic pattern remains clear to see. In some repsects this is not a showcase of Mckinley's writing, the opening sections certainly are, although even in extremis the characters have life far too easy, but the ending becoems somewhat pedestrian, and few opportuinites were taken to branch out along the interesting diversions created by the plot. It is a short novel, written back in the 70s when todays more expounded tales were few and far between, but this really does have the opportunity to make more of the story than Mckinley has done.I understand, although have yet to read, that the author did have a later more complex attempt called Rose Daughter which may be well worth reading.Enjoyable but mostly canon recounting of a famous fairy tale.
  • (5/5)
    Beauty must sacrifice her own freedom in order to save her father...she ends up trapped in a castle with a beast who wants to marry her! I really enjoyed this story because it was sweet and simple. It was a refreshing change from all the more recent "twist" retellings of the story. Highly recommended to any fan of children's fairy tales.
  • (5/5)
    Ah, revisiting this old friend was lovely - I do not know how long it has been since I last read it. In this retelling, Beauty's name is an irony, as she is the least attractive of three daughters. Her family handles their fall from wealth to near poverty with such a lack of whining that it is difficult not to admire them all. When they relocate to a small town at the edge of a dark wood, the eeriness of the forest invades the cosy family story, and an air of menace enters. When the Beast demands either the father or a daughter in payment for a stolen rose, Beauty of course volunteers, and of course her family cannot stop her. Beauty's growing relationship with the beast is believable, and it is with real urgency the reader awaits her return to him.The very ending is a little bit of a let down, as it happens too quickly, and I don't have time to get used to the sudden release of enchantment before the words stop and the story is over. I would give this to readers looking for atmospheric stories, fairy tale retellings, fantasy stories, or romance stories.
  • (4/5)
    I found this book very enjoyable. I found it quite refreshing that Beauty was not actually beautiful. Instead she was intelligent and faced with the beauty and kindness of her sisters. I thought this was a good reminder that beauty is not the only trait to be valued.
  • (4/5)
    It was a fascinating take on the classic fairy tale. I listened to it on CD (the reader was fantastic, as well) and I found myself continuously expecting something, like with the Disney version of "Beauty and the Beast" and it rarely turned out the way I expected. It was brilliantly done and I enjoyed every second of it. It was traditional in many ways, yet it remained fresh and unique as the novel continued.
  • (4/5)
    A retelling of Beauty and the Beast.Of the handful of Beauty and the Beast adaptations I've read, this one most closely follows the original fairy tale, while also mixing in the bookworm-heroine aspect from the Disney movie version. The beginning, which establishes Beauty's character, as well as that of her family, is a little slow, but it does a good job of showing what she is leaving behind when she agrees to go to the Beast's castle. The end feels anti-climactic compared to other adaptations, but it was still satisfying enough, and didn't drag on longer than necessary.
  • (5/5)
    This book has me wondering what the definition of "retelling" is exactly, but part of my puzzlement is that I've never read the actual tale of "Beauty and the Beast." Anyway, I did enjoy this very, very much. I think one of the marks of a well-written children's or young adult novel is that an adult can happily read it too--books that fit that description are rare, so Beauty was a lovely surprise. Lovely writing, fun story.One of the hallmarks of fairy tales is that they are told in a "serene, anonymous voice," and have "conventional, stock figures" (to quote Philip Pulman, who may be quoting someone else). McKinley decided to throw out those conventions here, and I think that's what made the novel so strong. The story is told in Beauty's first-person point of view, and we get all her ideas and emotions. I also really liked McKinley's world-building--there is an enchanted castle, but otherwise there was very little magic or fantasy or any of the outrageous elements one finds in typical fairy tales.Robin McKinley has come strongly recommended for many years, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading her. Will definitely look for more of her books.Recommended for: readers who like fairy tale retellings that are well written. As much as I enjoyed this now, had I read it when I was 11 or 12, I would have adored and read it over and over and never stopped talking about it.
  • (4/5)
    This is my favorite Robin McKinley book. I can read it over and over!
  • (3/5)
    Not my favorite by Robin McKinley, but a cute book that's definitely worth reading.  
  • (5/5)
    This is one of my all-time favorites. I agree with Sherri that the ending was too fast, but overall it's an enchanting read.
  • (3/5)
    I like fairy-tales, and McKinley does a decent job. I probably would have liked it more if I had read it when I was younger. But it was a fast and enjoyable read (there just wasn't anything earth shattering or especially dark, which is my favorite part of fairy-tales).
  • (5/5)
    This is a really sweet book. I thought is was very well written. I love the way she portrayed the Beast-I fell absolutely in love with him.
  • (4/5)
    Fairy tales tend to be simplistic, but Robin McKinley takes the story of Beauty and the Beast and fleshes it out to make it a lovely read. The book starts with Beauty's family losing their fortune and having to move to the country, something the city family had never contemplated before. They quickly adapt to their new life and find happiness in the simplicity. There is one rule - they must never go into the forest that backs onto their property.The father, on a return trip from the city, gets lost in the forest and is guided to a castle where he is well looked after for the night. When he is leaving the next morning, he plucks a rose from the garden to take to Beauty, whose one wish for a gift was some rose seeds to plant around the house. The Beast is furious that this man has abused his hospitality, and he emerges to tell the father that he must return in one month, either alone or with one of his daughters, to pay the price.So sets in motion the story of how Beauty comes to live at the castle, and eventually fall in love with the Beast. A quick read, but one I will come back to again.
  • (5/5)
    This is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story. McKinley did a wonderful job of describing visual details and emotional pangs, making this a delightful read. I've read several books by this author and this has been my favorite. The story's enchanted world was just a little different than usual and the characters had more depth than in the traditional telling, enhancing the story beyond what Disney was able to bring to it. Everyone who enjoys fantasy even a little would enjoy this book.