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Beauty - Robin McKinley

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Author: Robin McKinley / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 06 January 2011 / Genre: Children's Traditional Stories / Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers UK / Title: Beauty / ISBN 13: 9781849920728 / ISBN 10: 1849920728 / Alternative EAN: 9780552548632

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      06.04.2012 05:56
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      A lovely story and an interesting retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Definitely a must read.

      Robin Mckinley made her writing debut in 1978 with her book Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Publishers weekly said the book was "a splendid story".

      Excerpt:

      (From Barnes and noble website: http:// www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ beauty-r​obin-mckinley /1102343594? ean=97800 602414​90&itm=1&usr i=robin+mckinley)


      "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 -- Iworked 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"

      The story:

      Beauty whose real name is Honor is a young girl who loves to read books and learn new things, explore new subjects. She does not think herself very pretty and feels inferior next to her beautiful sisters Hope and Grace. After her father, a wealthy merchant, suffers tremendous financial losses when his ships get lost at sea, Beauty, her sisters and her father must make drastic changes to their lifestyle. Along with her fathers ships, Beauty's sister Grace also loses her fiance Robert Tucker who was a captain on one of the ships.

      Beauty and her family decide to sell everything and move to the country side with Hope's fiance, a blacksmith named Ger. There the family set up a decent life for themselves and Beauty most of all learns to be happy with their simple life. One day however Beauty's father goes into the city to handle some business. Upon his return he tells a tale of how he got lost in a snowstorm coming back and stumbled upon a castle in which he took shelter. He told of the castle being enchanted with doors opening by themselves and food appearing out of nowhere as if put there by magic invisible hands. In the morning however when he stopped by the garden outside to pluck a rose for Beauty a dreadfully hideous Beast appeared and told the frightened man that he would spare his life only if he came back to the castle in a months time and brought one of his daughters, who would have to live at the castle with the Beast, though she would not be harmed.

      Upon hearing this story, Beauty volunteers and convinces her family to let her go. When her father tries to talk her out of it Beauty says "Can a Beast not be tamed?"...and so her extraordinary journey begins.

      What I thought:
      I found Beauty to be a wonderfully charming story from beginning to end. The authors words flowed smoothly without any breaks or unnecessary distractions. The characters were engaging, lovable and relatable.

      I feel that the reader can relate to Beauty's misgivings about herself (we all have them), and to her sisters occasional longing for the life of luxury they used to lead. They all went through a lot and it's not hard to relate to them, we all go through financial hardships and we all have to make changes to our lives accordingly.

      One can even relate to the Beast, a character filled with remorse and regret, weighed down by lessons he wished he had learnt earlier. Honestly, I liked the Beast in this movie more than in the orginial story. This Beast had much more depth as a character, the human he once was shines through and it makes the whole story that much better.

      This story was also one of those rare stories which you can see being played out in front of you, the authors words come to life in your mind. I would love it if they made a movie on this book!

      There were no parts in the story where I found myself getting bored or felt that the scene was being dragged out. I have read the book many times over and still enjoy it just as much every single time. It's a good book to read when you just want to relax since there are no particularly serious parts like the original story.

      Many authors who write their own versions of Disney classics either change it too much or not enough but this story was perfectly balanced. In my opinion Robin Mckinley put a lovely twist on a story that was already great.

      (This review is also on Ciao under the same name)

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        30.01.2010 20:48
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        Great retelling

        Beauty is a retelling of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast although a lot of the details have been changed.

        The Beauty in this story isn't actually called that. Her real name is Honour. As a child, she decided that she didn't really like her name and picked her nickname, Beauty, herself and it stuck. Unlike her sisters, she doesn't think that she is actually beautiful and thinks she is the plain sister out of the three. She is also not very girly and likes reading and horses rather than being interested in finding a man to marry.

        When her fathers shipping business has problems, they family are forced to sell nearly everything they own. They put together their money with one of Beauty's sisters' fiancé and move away to the country. Although things are hard to begin with, everyone learns to cope but then their father goes away on a trip to make some more money. He is away for months and months but when he returns, he does so with treasures for everyone and the most beautiful rose for Beauty. As one of the petals falls, it turns into gold and Beauty wants to know why. Her father begins to explain to the family about his trip.

        On the way back home, he got lost in the woods in the middle of a storm and stumbled across a huge castle. It seemed that no one was home but the doors opened themselves and let him in. There, he recovered for the night and set off to get home. As he is leaving the castle though, he sees the amazing garden, full of perfect roses and harmlessly picks one for his daughter. As he does, the owner of the castle, the Beast, roars and demands to know why. The Beast has shown nothing but hospitality and he is repaid with selfishness and greed. The Beast makes a deal that either he can give up his life for picking the rose or his daughter can come to the castle in his place in order to save his life. Beauty agrees to go to the castle in his place but when she gets there, she realises that everything is not as it seems and the Beast really isn't one at all.

        My Opinion
        I'm going through a bit of a phase of trying out different books at the moment and this was one that I picked from recommendations from Amazon. I knew that it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast when I bought it but you never know what someone is going to do to a classic story.

        What I loved about this one was that we got to know about Beauty's family and the reasons behind why she had to go live with the Beast. She showed a lot of courage when she told her father that she would go to the castle to save his life. She is very determined to get what she wants and firmly believes that she is doing the right thing. Some have said that Beauty is too obsessed with how she looks but I don't think this was how it was at all. She doesn't think she is beautiful at all, she thinks she is quite plain and boring but she really doesn't mind. Beauty seems happy enough in her own world of books and learning that she doesn't yearn to be like her sisters. I would have liked it if at the end of the story, she gave up a bit more of a fight when she realises that her looks have changed but I wasn't too opposed to that part.

        The Beast isn't the same as he is in the Disney film at all. The basics to his story are still the same, like the fact that he has a curse put upon him and it will take something spectacular to break it. He tells Beauty's father that he will never harm her so she isn't particularly scared of him at any point. He is very wary about spending time with Beauty at times because of what he is and the things that she believes in. It was so interesting to watch Beast grow and become more human by the day when Beauty makes him do things like turn his own pages of a book and eat things that she does.

        I felt like this version of the story was a lot more magical than I had expected. Unlike in the film where the household items became enchanted too, they were invisible this time and that added a whole lot of mystery. You have no real idea who or what is doing everything around the house apart from when Beauty begins to hear the voices. She knows that something is going on but cant figure out what she has to do.

        The only thing that I didn't like about the story was the fact that from the first time Beast meets Beauty, he asks her to marry him and continues to do so every single day. I understand that time was running out and he needed to get her to fall in love with him but he didn't even give her any time at all to get to know him. This would have annoyed me more than anything else and I would have wanted to spend less time with him instead of more.

        Overall, this is an amazing story that has a lot more depth and wonder than the original. I'm not quite sure what age range this is aimed at but I am 23 and I loved it. I think young adults would also really enjoy this due to the magic throughout. Great book.

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          03.04.2009 01:25
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          If you love 'Beauty and the Beast' you'll probably love this novel

          "Beauty" is a retelling of the story of 'Beauty and the Beast', in first person, from the point of view of Beauty. The storyline is pretty much the same as in the traditional story but some details are changed.

          Beauty is a nickname, her real name is Honour but as a child she decided that she'd rather be called Beauty, and the name stuck. She does not, however, consider herself beautiful. Beauty likes riding horses and reading, and when her father's business fails and one of her sisters marries, the whole family moves out of the town to start a new life in the countryside, and Beauty finds herself very capable at manual labour. Then news comes from town that one of the ships Beauty's father owned may have returned, and he goes out to see if this is true. On the way home he becomes lost, and finds his way to the home of the beast.

          This book does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters of Beauty and the Beast, making them more real. Beauty's sisters are not ugly caricatures here, which I liked, and the magical castle in which the Beast lived was a fascinating place to see described.

          This is probably the best-loved of Robin McKinley's books, the first of her novels to be published, I was recommended it several times before I finally picked it up in a library sale. However, I preferred her more recent novel, "Spindle's End", which I read before "Beauty". Most readers seem to think "Beauty" the better book, but I didn't enjoy it as much. Beauty is an interesting but rather passive heroine, and 'Beauty and the Beast' was never one of my favourite stories - it's basically a romanticisation of Stockholm syndrome! The Beast in "Beauty" is just like the one in the original tale - he holds Beauty hostage in the hope that she will fall in love with him, and I just couldn't see him as a hero. I also found Beauty to be too obsessed with the way she looks, and was disappointed that in the end she does become "beautiful" (which means taller and more mature looking), I would have preferred to see her get over it!

          I think anyone who loves the story of 'Beauty and the Beast' will really enjoy this, but if you always found the plot of the original to be a bit thin, you won't like it so much. This is a book aimed at children, I'd say pre-teens onwards would be best suited to it, but many adults have enjoyed it as well.

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