Robin McKinley: Beauty
Beauty: a retelling of the story of Beauty & the Beast
by Robin McKinley
narrated by Charlotte Parry
(fantasy, fairy tale retelling)
I don’t know how long this book has been on my TBR list. A long time, that’s for sure. And I don’t know why it took me so long to read it, either. I love fairy tale retellings, when they’re done right (as this one was). (This one has definitely bumped Spindle’s End higher up the TBR list.)
Anyway, you should be familiar with the basic plot of this story already. If not, I’m guessing you don’t get out much. But just in case… Beauty has two older sisters. Their father is a merchant (Disney took liberties here) and their mother is dead. An unexpected turn in their fortunes causes the family to move out of the town and into the country, close to an enchanted wood. The father goes back into town on business and asks the daughters what he can bring them back: the two eldest ask for jewels, and Beauty asks for rose seeds. Well, the father gets lost on his return home, and ends up at the Beast’s castle in the enchanted woods. He takes a rose for Beauty, and the Beast demands that the father surrender one of his daughters for the theft of the rose.
This version is the traditional story with very few alterations. (Or at least, very few alterations as I remember the original.) Beauty’s sisters aren’t mean, for one thing. Her brothers in the original have become brothers-in-law in this version. And I don’t remember the family’s fortunes declining in the original the way they do in this version. That kind of thing. However, none of the tweaks to the details matter in terms of the story itself. It all combines to make a very solid, very enjoyable book. Unlike some retellings, however, don’t expect many extra plot points. It is a very good version of Beauty and the Beast, but it is 100% that story. It doesn’t blend in other worlds or other stories or other magics.
The narration on the story was good as well. The Beast perhaps wasn’t read as growly as I would have preferred, but Charlotte, our narrator, did a better job of it than I would. And she was perfect for Beauty.
This is definitely one to pick up. I highly recommend it to anyone, and I think I’ll be adding it to the list of books to gift to my niece for birthdays or Christmas or whatever. (So yes, suitable for all ages.)