While Beauty Slept

( 14 )

Overview

I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told.

And so begins Elise Dalriss's story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel's tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered?and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago. Her story unveils a labyrinth where secrets connect to an ...

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While Beauty Slept

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Overview

I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told.

And so begins Elise Dalriss's story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel's tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered—and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago. Her story unveils a labyrinth where secrets connect to an inconceivable evil. As only Elise understands all too well, the truth is no fairy tale...

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Blackwell, previously a reporter and romance writer, makes her historical fiction debut with a gripping tale full of romance, secrets, and promises made and broken. This beautiful, original reinterpretation of a classic story is engrossing and often surprising." —-Library Journal Starred Review
Publishers Weekly
11/18/2013
This retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” by debut novelist Blackwell is faithful to the original while offering a fresh interpretation. Though set amid the pomp and pestilence of a fictionalized medieval kingdom, the novel’s characters—a couple dogged by infertility, a young girl resisting overprotection, a family torn apart by jealousy—have a contemporary resonance. Its narrator, Elise Dalriss, is raised on a farm, but feels most at home in the royal castle. Rising quickly through the ranks there, she becomes handmaiden to the queen, allowing her to witness the royal family’s troubles firsthand. Unable to produce an heir, Queen Lenore turns to the king’s aunt, Millicent, who is reputed to have magical powers. The queen bears a healthy girl with Millicent’s help, but not before King Ranolf grows resentful of his aunt’s imperiousness. Millicent is banished from the kingdom, becoming one of many dangers beyond its walls, while Princess Rose grows up sheltered against her aunt’s parting threats. When her parents’ elaborate defenses fail to protect their daughter, it is Elise, her confidante, who must keep Rose alive. Elise’s own tale grounds the novel, and the twists that resolve the women’s stories are both convincing and moving. (Feb.)
Library Journal
★ 12/01/2013
In this retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story as seen through the eyes of Elise, a loyal servant and confidante to the royal family, readers follow Elise as she strives to learn how to be a servant while rising quickly through the ranks, balancing her new life as a friend to the queen with her downstairs friendships with maids and servants. Royal intrigue mingles with fairy tale lore and when the curse falls, as readers know it will, it is unexpected and heartrending. Even if at times the story appears to be following a predictable route, the surprises keep coming, and events dance around one another to form a new path to the climax. VERDICT Blackwell, previously a reporter and romance writer, makes her historical fiction debut with a gripping tale full of romance, secrets, and promises made and broken. This beautiful, original reinterpretation of a classic story is engrossing and often surprising. Recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings or gothic historical fiction.—Katie Lawrence, Chicago
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-25
In her first novel, Blackwell keeps her retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" in the once-upon-a-time past but makes the standard version's reliance on magic subservient to a more psychological/sociological interpretation. When aged Elise overhears her granddaughter telling the popular legend about a sleeping princess brought back to life by a kiss, she feels compelled to tell the real events she witnessed 50 years earlier while a beloved servant of King Ranolf and Queen Lenore: Aware she was the bastard offspring of an unnamed father connected to the castle where her mother once worked as a seamstress, Elise arrived at court as a teenager. Although her quick rise to becoming personal attendant to Queen Lenore made her unpopular with other servants, Elise adored her work and the gentle queen. But all was not as copacetic as it at first seemed. Lenore's inability to bear an heir was creating a political as well as a marital crisis. Ranolf was about to buckle to pressure to name his brutal brother Bowen as successor, when Lenore returned from a journey with Ranolf's great-aunt Millicent and announced her pregnancy. Soon, Millicent and Ranolf were locked in a power struggle over influencing Lenore, and Elise found her own allegiance to the queen compromised. And after Princess Rose was born, stubborn Ranolf banished Millicent, who vowed to destroy Ranolf's kingdom. Whether she possessed any special power was less important than the "distrust and fear" that gradually overtook Ranolf's rule as Rose grew up. Equally devoted to Rose as to her mother, Elise also lived her own life, complete with an early love and a complicated marriage. By the time Rose was 17, Ranolf had won a pyrrhic victory in his war against his enemies, including his brother, and Lenore had drifted under the spell of a religious fanatic. Then the kingdom faced an even greater crisis and Elise was assigned to protect Rose at all costs, including complete isolation. Intelligent escapism that should please Brothers Grimm lovers more than Disney fans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452617893
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/20/2014
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged CD
  • Sales rank: 908,405
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Blackwell works as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Ladies' Home Journal, Parenting, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications. She lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Wanda McCaddon has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audio publishers and has earned more than twenty-five Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine. She has also won a coveted Audie Award, and AudioFile has named her one of recording's Golden Voices.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

4 Star

(3)

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    WOW! Let me tell you. Not at all what I had expected. When I r

    WOW!

    Let me tell you. Not at all what I had expected. When I read the summary of this book on Penguin's website, I loved the fact that the book was written through the lens of historical fiction and retelling it as if it could have really happened. Gone are the fairies, the dragon and evil magic and replaced by something more realistic and dark.

    The story is told from Elise's point of view. A young woman who grew up on a farm, survived the on-slaughter of Pox that claimed almost all of her family and escaped to a small town in hopes of getting a position in the castle. Thanks to her mother's background and previous history of working for the castle, she is welcomed by the woman in charge of the maids. Elise started out as a chamber maid, but her mother's teachings and the ability to read had progressed Elise into eventually becoming the Queen's personal attendant.

    Thought she now lives in a lifestyle that she felt she was born to of lavish and glamor. Only the royal family and it's servants know what's underneath the facade, and the dark secret's inside the castle walls. Especially Elisa, a girl who came from nothing but become the most trusted lady in the castle with both the Queen and her family.

    The sacrifice the Queen had to make in order to bare a child and a heir to the throne. Her journey itself was long and perilous. What was offered as a help from the aunt Millicent had turned into something that had cost the Royal family and it's people far more upon Princess Rose's birth.

    A story filled with suspense, secrets, sacrifice, loyalty, love and devotion. Blackwell takes us on a beautiful yet a dark rendering of Sleeping Beauty that had me savoring every page. The story did not read lightly, it was complex yet gorgeous. I didn't devour it in one sitting, it took me a few days allowing the story to sink in bit by bit, relishing the amazing storytelling.

    I jumped into the story head first. Thinking I knew exactly what was coming and I was rewarded with so much more. I loved Elisa and hated her at the same time. She poured her heart and soul at serving her Queen and eventually becoming Lady-in waiting to Rose. Her devotion to both the Queen and the Princess ran far deeper then her own feelings. She had put aside her own life, her own love in order to serve the Royal family and the result was beyond astronomical in the effect she has had on Rose in the end.

    The ending took me by surprise, once again thinking that I knew exactly what was coming but Elizabeth Blackwell has managed to blow everything out of the water. Ending up with a conclusion that was not what I expected after all. I did like this different take on Sleeping Beauty ending.

    I could keep on talking about this book, but there was just so much in it that I do not want to give away. Thought the pacing was a bit slow sometimes, I took it as an opportunity to fully enjoy the story. If you love a good historical fiction, I would absolutely give this one a shot.

    I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review. Thank you
    Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam for providing me with a physical copy.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 11, 2014

    Out of all the Disney princess movies, Sleeping Beauty, was one

    Out of all the Disney princess movies, Sleeping Beauty, was one of my least favorites. So, I really had no idea what to expect from this book, but I am glad did read it!

    I love the way Elizabeth Blackwell takes a treasured children’s story, and expands on it in such a creative and genius way! Even if you have not read Sleeping Beauty or seen the movie, like me, you will understand this story and appreciate the direction that Elizabeth takes this book.

    With Elise’s point of view, readers gain an insider’s view to the Queen, Maleficent, and even Princess Aurora. The story truly reads as if it is based on an actual historical event, or at least a real place, which is what makes this book so special. Regardless of a “fantasy” place, readers will genuinely love the relationship Elise develops with different palace workers, the Queen, and her own love story, that is weaved in. Overall, a beautiful story and one that will delight readers!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    LOVED LOVED LOVED this book!

    I am, and always have been, a huge fan of the Sleeping Beauty story. This book brought the myth and fantasy to life and made me wonder...Did it really happen??? It's so well written, with surprises, twists, and "aha" moments throughout. You won't want to put it down!

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  • Posted May 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Forget the story of Sleeping Beauty that you've heard all of the

    Forget the story of Sleeping Beauty that you've heard all of these years. The truth, as told by Blackwell, is quite a different tale. Told from the perspective of Elise, a woman who worked as a maid to the royal family and became a lady in waiting after marrying a knight. Elise was more than just a servant; she was a friend and confidant to both the Queen and the beautiful princess Rose. Their story was not a fairy tale but rather a story marked by heartbreak, suffering, and death.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014

     

     

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Lovely

    Beautiful story. Makes you believe in happy endings.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    A very enjoyable read. I thought this was a well written re-ima

    A very enjoyable read. I thought this was a well written re-imagining of what might be behind the Sleeping Beauty myth. I really enjoyed it and hope Elizabeth Blackwell follows it up with another.

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    Posted July 9, 2014

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    Posted March 19, 2014

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    Posted June 12, 2014

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    Posted March 29, 2014

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    Posted July 9, 2014

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    Posted June 12, 2014

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    Posted April 15, 2014

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