Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella EnchantedElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Format: Paper (bought at used book store)
Narrated By: NA
Original Publication Year: 1997
Genre(s): Fantasy, Middle Grade
Series: NA

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I really love the Ella Enchanted movie. What can I say, I like Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy and Queen songs. Come to think of it I also have a somewhat inexplicable love for the Drew Barrymore film Ever After so maybe I have a hitherto unrecognized fascination with the Cinderella tale? If this is true, it is especially strange that it has taken me so long to read this much lauded retelling of the Cinderella story. I wish I hadn’t waited so long but I do have to say it might be a blessing because now I can love both the book AND the movie. I have a feeling if I’d read the book first the movie would have just made me angry.

Why angry? Because the book has so much more spirit and heart then the movie. And it celebrates more elements from the fairy tales we know, blending it into a more realistic story while still managing not to lose any of the magic. The spine of this tale is of a girl finding her strength to be her own person and do the right thing.  At birth Ella is given the "gift" of perfect obedience by clueless fairy Lucinda.  It is kept a secret but when the wrong people find out they turn Ella's life into a misery and show what a danger this curse is, to herself and those she loves.  I LOVED that Ella ends up breaking the curse of unquestioning obedience on her own - her freedom must come from within. The romance with the prince is also done really well being built on friendship and respect.

It’s a great book for any girl to read and makes me wish I had nieces!

What books would you mostly highly recommend for young girl readers both for the enjoyment and the message?

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  1. I agree--this is a lovely one to give to a niece (or other girl who happens to be handy...)

  2. Alas I have 4 nephews - which I shouldn't say alas because they're great, but they probably wouldn't like some of the books I loved when I was that age or books like this that I come across. Good thing a number of my friends have some "handy girls" as you say but most are a bit too young for this. I guess I'll have to rely on my feeble brain to remember it a few years down the road when they all hit the right age:) My one quibble with the book was that the mean stepsisters are, of course, fat and ugly. I wish the physical and inner beauty of the characters hadn't been quite so linked.

  3. It's a great book; I loved it totally as a child. But I loathe the movie, which I did see second.

    1. I totally get that. If I had read the book first I would have wanted to punch the movie in the face! Rather than saying the movie was based on the book, it's probably more truthful to say it stole the general premise of the book. I can imagine how disappointing it must have been for folks who loved the book.

  4. I've made it a new policy to try and see the movie before the book, because there are very few cases I can think of where I would prefer the movie. I HATED the Ella Enchanted movie! I must have read the book thousands of times - I got a signed copy of the book in 4th grade for breaking the school's AR record (I've always been a big reader haha). The book is practically falling apart now! It's still my favourite Gail Carson Levine book, closely followed by The Two Princesses of Bamarre. I'm glad you finally read this!

    1. That sounds like a very smart policy and one I may have to adopt as well. There are maybe some cases where the movie/ TV show is good and enjoyable (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones comes to mind) but the book is almost always more satisfying.

      I also need to pick up The Two Princesses of Bamarre which a number of people have mentioned as one of her best books.