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"Can a beast not be tamed?"
Beauty - Robin McKinley
Member Name: Tangled07
Beauty - Robin McKinley
Date: 06/04/12, updated on 06/04/12 (59 review reads)
Advantages: Charming story, engaging characters, great flow from start to finish
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".
(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"
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)
Summary: A lovely story and an interesting retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Definitely a must read.