Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Author:  Robin McKinley 
Published:  1978
Length:  247 pages
Source:  Local library
Challenge:  Once Upon a Time IV
Robin McKinley's Website

Personal Enjoyment Factor:4/5

It's a familiar tale for many. A lovely girl accepts a punishment meant for her father, and makes her way to an enchanted castle inhabited by a hideous beast.  Waited on by invisible servants and invited to dine with the beast nightly, she gradually overcomes her fears and a deep friendship blossoms.  When she becomes homesick, the beast allows her to return home for a week, but warns her that if she doesn't come back, he will die.  When his death becomes a very real possibility, her true feelings surface as she desperately tries to save him.

There have been many variations of Beauty and the Beast through the years, and although this seems to be a fairly faithful retelling, the details McKinley adds to embellish the tale so beautifully enrich the story and give it a satisfying depth.  I especially loved that our heroine grows into her beauty.  She is introduced as a hard-working, practical girl who sees herself as anything but beautiful, and her name seems something of  a joke.  She's a bookworm with a love of the classics and a dream of furthering her education in ways unthinkable for a young woman of the time.  Her character is written in such a way that she is selfless without being overly submissive.  Her beauty comes to her gradually without her even realizing it.  I like the way that love changes not only the beast, but Beauty as well.

One would assume a fairy tale retelling would be "enchanting."  While Beauty had its share of magical moments, what struck me most was how "real" it felt.  Almost down-to-earth, despite the miracle-grow roses and generous gifts appearing out of nowhere and the like.  I'm not sure how exactly to describe it, but I felt it was a perfect mood to create for this particular love story.  


  1. I love Beauty. It is so calming and loving. Every time I finish it I think that it was just another perfect retelling! I'm glad to see you enjoyed it as well!

  2. I recently read this one for the first time too and thought it was great. I do think that Disney definitely picked off some ideas from this book!

  3. beauty and the beast is by far my favorite disney movie. i can't believe i haven't read this book yet, but i'm definitely adding it to my tbr.

  4. I loved this version. It's one of my all-time favorite books. I love how real she made it all seem.

  5. Yes, I feel the same way! I liked this one more than her other Beauty retelling Rose Daughter. Both interesting, but this one was just more beautiful and a little more believable for me.

  6. The Fantasy/Science Fiction BotM Group read this not too long ago on Shelfari. Someday I will get to McKinley. Everyone seems to love her.

    I see that you have Game of Thrones on your TBR list. OMG...that is the best book! HBO is doing a series that is going to come out in 2011 as well. I am so excited!

  7. Allie,
    Calming and loving is a good way to describe it!

    I definitely saw some similarities. I love the movie too!

    It's one of my top favorite Disney movies too! The opening song is my favorite.

    That's what struck me the most--how real it felt. I loved the characters!

    I'll have to try Rose Daughter, even though I have heard from others it's not as good. Still worth a try though.

    Yes, I just heard about the HBO series. Now I feel like I have to rush to read the book! I've been putting it off because it is so long and I'm in the middle of two really long books.

  8. I've enjoyed the McKinley books that I've read, Sunshine especially, so I really must get around to this one at some point.

  9. I've enjoyed the McKinley books that I've read, Sunshine especially, so I really must get around to this one at some point.