Beauty by Robin McKinley

On a trip to my favorite local private library (it’s located a lady’s basement and she has the best books), this retelling of Beauty and the Beast was recommend to me.




Plot: A family prospers in a city far away. I think this happens in Europe. A beautiful young lady and her slightly older merchant husband become parents to three daughters. The two oldest (Grace and Hope) are beautiful and grow even more so as they mature. The youngest (originally called Honor but now named Beauty) grows to be quite ordinary looking and gets pimples which is astonishing since no one in her mother’s family has ever had them.

Years later, the mother dies, leaving her family heartbroken. The merchant’s finances weaken as his ships are lost at sea. Grace’s lover was on one of the ships and she believes and hopes he’s alive. The family moves to a country house where Hope’s husband finds a job and they find a living.

The father travels to the city but loses his way. He stumbles upon a castle where the invisible servants serve him tea. The Beast threatens to keep him there or find a replacement. The merchant comes back home. Beauty offers to take his place. They all need their father. No one need her.

She begins her stay at the castle. The Beast asks her repeatedly, “Will you marry me, Beauty?” She always replies, “No, I will not,” at first with determination, then with growing fondness. She begs to visit her family to which he allows for one week.

Beauty travel back to her country home. She misses her niece and nephew, her sisters, Gervain (Hope’s husband), and her father. They are aghast that she can only stay for a week.

When she finally returns to the castle, it’s in shambles and seems no one is there. She calls for him and doesn’t find him. When she does find him, the Beast is dying. She agrees to marry him since she realizes that she does truly love him.

The Beast transforms. She is in awe. He’s handsome, majestic as a king, and tall. Beauty wonders who he is. He replies that he is the beast and how to curse occurred. “Will you still marry me?”  he asks. “Me? I’m a plain little mouse,” Beauty responds, “You should marry a queen, a lady, or some royal.” As she looks in the mirror, Beauty realizes she has changed: her hair has deepened into auburn and she has grown taller and graceful.

The castle begins to transform as well. With Beauty’s family waiting outside, they venture out to meet them. Finis!

What did I think: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The tale was masterfully spun, making it easy to empathize with Beauty and her troubles and joys. The book is good for a weekend read–to relax and imagine.

Are you going to read it?


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