Terrouge E-zine Archives
Book Review: Beauty
Featured Book: Beauty Author: Robin McKinley
"Good-bye," I said. My sisters said nothing. I turned and walked back toward the horses; father was already mounted. Greatheart was watching me, and as I turned toward him gave a great bound forwards, and I saw the blacksmith's muscles on Ger's arms stand out as he tried to hold him. Greatheart subsided, sinking back on his hocks, and chewing on his bits till the white foam splashed to the ground. "Oh," I said, turning back to my sisters. "All the stuff in Father's saddle-bags: I hope you'll use it. It's not-I mean, I wish you would," I ended lamely. They both nodded. Grace gave me a ghost of a smile; Hope blinked, and a big tear rolled off her cheek and splashed onto Richard's face. He broke into a thin cry. I still hesitated. "Use all that fine silver on my birthday," I said at last, not having thought of what I wished to say, or how to say it; and turned away hastily."
It all begins when Beauty's father lost his entire shipping business in a series of catastrophes. Before they know it, all of them: Beauty, her father, her two sisters, Grace and Hope, and Hope's fiance Gervain, are off to the northern woods where Ger grew up, the same woods where sorcerers still roam, and magicians are common, which some in the city even believe there are still a few dragons at hiding in the mysterious woods of the north. At once Beauty's pampered life is whisked away, most of her beloved books are sold to pay for the journey, and she has nothing except her family, a few books, and their new cottage, the old abandoned blacksmith ship in the tiny town of Blue Hill.
When another of their father's old ships, previously declared lost at sea, arrives in the harbor at the city, he of course had to go to perhaps get a little money from the sale of the merchandise, and pay back some of his debtors. On his way back, he is caught in a snowstorm, and takes shelter in a mysterious enchanted castle where he spends the night, waited on by invisible servants. In the morning, as he prepares to leave, he remembers his promise to Beauty: that he would try to bring her a rose from the city. Seeing an enormous garden of roses, he picks one for her, not imagining the horror it would bring in to all of their lives. The master of the castle, a hideous beast, demands one of his daughters in payment for the rose he stole. And so Beauty must go, to spend the rest of her life with the monster, to never see her family again, and to tame a beast...
Very soon, Beauty finds her life at the castle to be not as terrible as she had hoped; it is pleasant and luxurious, and she has all day to spend as she pleases. The only drawbacks are her family, left behind in Blue Hill, and the hideous, although extremely polite, Beast, who asks her every night as she finishes her dinner, "Beauty, will you marry me?" And her reply is always, "No, Beast." Soon she finds herself looking past his rough appearance, to actually enjoy his company. And soon, she begins to realize that even more than enjoying his presence, she truly loves him.
Here is the most memorable and the most unlikely love story of all time, retold in McKinley's excellent style: Beauty and the Beast.