Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

This much-loved retelling of the classic French tale Beauty and the Beast elicits the familiar magical charm, but is more believable and complex than the traditional story. In this version, Beauty is not as beautiful as her older sisters, who are both lovely and kind. Here, in fact, Beauty has no confidence in her appearance but takes pride in her own intelligence, her love of learning and books, and her talent in riding. She is the most competent of the three sisters, which proves essential when they are forced to retire to the country because of their father's financial ruin.

The plot follows that of the renowned legend: Beauty selflessly agrees to inhabit the Beast's castle to spare her father's life. Beauty's gradual acceptance of the Beast and the couple's deepening trust and affection are amplified in novel form. Robin McKinley's writing has the flavor of another century, and Beauty heightens the authenticity as a reliable and competent narrator. -

I have read many retellings of Beauty and the Beast. This is one of the better versions. The love story stems from a deep friendship and doesn't seem hurried to me. I love that Beauty is a realist instead of a romantic. She is also self-conscious, which is a little refreshing to find in a heroine. I also found myself fond of this Beast more than others I've encountered in the past.

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