Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It Was Enchanting to Meet You

Let me share a secret with you: before there was J.K. Rowling there was Gail Carson Levine. Which means, before there was Harry Potter, there was Ella Enchanted. For those of you who have seen that travesty of a movie with the same name from which the only good thing to emerge was Hugh Dancy with his beautiful smile (Anne Hathaway, what were you thinking?), I beg you not to hold it against this fabulous book.
It is a tradition in the land of Frell for a fairy to bestow a gift upon a newborn child. Unfortunately, when Ella is born, she gets a rather unwanted gift from the extremely lackluster fairy Lucinda: the gift of obedience. On first thought, this doesn't seem so bad... No crying as a child or disobeying your parents, but what if someone tells you to cut off your own hand or kill someone. 

When Ella is fifteen she and her mother both become very ill, but while our heroine recovers more every day, her mother sinks deeper into sickness. The Lady Eleanor passes away, and Ella is left to be raised by her absentee trader father and loving cook Mandy. 

Now you should know (if you haven't already guessed) that Ella Enchanted is a retelling of Cinderella. But I promise you've never heard a version of the glass-slippered princess quite like this one. Ella is the kind of girl you want to be best friends with. She's clumsy, obstinate, and a bit of a rebel. She doesn't give in docilely to the horrible curse that attempts to control her life.

I'm sure you're all saying to yourselves that if this is a fairytale there must be a prince, and to that I would say: is there ever a prince! Prince Charmont, Char for short, was ten-year-old heart's idea of the perfect guy, and I have to say, fifteen years later he still makes me more than a little swoony:
You like me. You wouldn't waste time or paper on a being you didn't like. But I think I've loved you since we met at your mother's funeral. I want to be with you forever and beyond, but you write that you are too young to marry or too old or too short or too hungry-- until I crumple your letters in despair, only to smooth them out again for a twelfth reading, hunting for hidden meanings.
See what I mean? Totally swoon-worthy. But that's not all this book has going for it... It has adventure and gnomes and ogres and evil stepsisters (and stepmother) and a curse and foreign policy and a magic book, and, yes, glass slippers.

Ella is an inspiring heroine whose adventures never grow old. I can promise this is one book that will make a proud addition to any bookshelf and is perfect for cold winter nights by the fire or lazy summer days by the pool. And really, who doesn't love a happy ending:
And so, with laughter and love, we lived happily ever after.


  1. This was one of my favorite books in middle school (and still is!) Thanks for redeeming it from that wretched excuse for a movie adaptation. I'd love to see a decent movie made out of it one day...

  2. It really is SO GOOD. I read it more than once a year because I just can't help myself. You should also check out The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Mrs. Levine. It's just as swoon-worthy!