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Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairy tale.  I think because it was the girl - not a princess - who rescued a man trapped by his own foolishness.  In the Disney version it's a prince, in McKinley's later version he is a sorcerer, and you know what? I wouldn't mind reading ten more books based on Beauty and the Beast.  I'm really happy that McKinley wrote two!  The Rose Daughter follows the older idea, as far as the story goes that I'm acquainted with.

The characters we all know.  The father who was once a wealthy merchant that falls on hard times, the three daughters who are all beautiful and excel in a certain area that they are known for.  In McKinley's version one is great with horses, another sews amazingly, and then there is Beauty ~ who tends roses.  Now, roses in and of themselves have a character place in this book because they are crucial to the story.  In Rose Daughter, roses only bloom for love or magic, so they are rare things and it is important that Beauty is good with roses.  The Beast seems to me mostly unchanged in the stories because we have to like him; he almost always has to be sad or lonely or regretful, though he can also be scary and intimidating because of what he is or because of his anger or bitterness or some other cause.  And then there is the magic; the magic of the house is it's own character.  Over at Writing Excuses there was a bit they talked on how giving a thing or a presence the qualities of a character can be tricky, but I felt that the magic of the house - and even magic in general in this story - was a character all it's own.  I found myself loving the same characters all over again because McKinley put that twist, that shine on the story.

The setting is first a very large house in a city and then Rose Cottage ~ named because of the roses, bet you didn't see that coming?  Well it's still a lovely idea.  There was a lot to the little village that I could see, and especially the cottage that just seemed like you knew it.  And then there was the Beast's palace, which was more a character than a setting.

The plot.  We all know the story.  I could probably recite it in my sleep.  However, McKinley wraps the history and the background around the characters so they seem almost swept up in something they cannot control.  I thought that the resolution was amazing.  Then again, I always like the climax of every Beauty and the Beast story...  See - I have a problem!  I'm addicted to Beauty and the Beast.  But I really do like how the climax and resolution were particular to these characters in this setting.  I also liked how the characters were happy to be where they were and the important things were kept central to their person - and here I go off talking about them as if they're real people!

So suffice it to say, I think I should collect novels based on Beauty and the Beast.  I've probably read ten or so novels, but I still like them.

2 thoughts:

Anonymous said...

I didn't understand the concluding part of your article, could you please explain it more?

Cid said...

I like the story of Beauty and the Beast a lot. I own two novels that retell the story and have read several more than that. It's just an observation on my own reading and what I like.

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Grew up traveling to rodeos with my parents. I've gone across the world thanks to my gypsie feet. I feel sometimes like I've done everything & nothing. I've played roller derby, traveled parts of the world, have four degrees. I've done some things most people will never do in their lives & still I want to do more. I want to work with orphans & teenagers again. I'm a Christian. I have a lot of tattoos. I like art therefore I want to be art. I love people. I started writing years ago when I was a kid. I think at the time it was an outlet for me; I found escape in my word & the worlds I created. Eventually I just started to like creating stuff & that's when I started sharing it with other people. Now I think I write every day. I want to do NaNoWrMo this year. I'm also learning how to knit. I think I'm on my way to being an eccentric old woman who runs around the world doing silly cazy things and knitting while she does them. Be on your guard I have knitting needles!

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