While Beauty Slept

While Beauty Slept

4.3 19
by Elizabeth Blackwell, Wanda McCaddon
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

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...

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
Library Journal - Audio
09/15/2014
Blackwell (The House of Secrets) here reimagines the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, telling the story from the perspective of Elise Darliss, a maid who becomes a lady-in-waiting. The queen gives birth to Princess Rose after a long period of childlessness, and her sister-in-law, the evil Millicent, puts a curse on the family, especially Rose. Elise is a participant in and spectator to all of the events in the castle and in the life of the royal family and the only one who knows the true story of the slumbering princess. Retold tales are a popular genre in both fiction and in film, and this well-written version will be appreciated. Wanda McCannon's skillful reading keeps listeners engaged. VERDICT Recommended for fans of historical fiction, fantasy, and fairy tales. ["This beautiful, original reinterpretation of a classic story is engrossing and often surprising," read the starred review of the Amy Einhorn: Putnam hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 1/2/14.]—Mary Knapp, Madison P.L., WI
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452617893
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
02/20/2014
Edition description:
Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Meg Cabot
Elizabeth Blackwell is a story-telling genius. Her mesmerizing writing weaves a spell that will enchant you. While Beauty Slept breathes new life into the fairytale genre with a historical twist that will take your breath away. --Meg Cabot, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries and Heather Wells mystery series
Alma Katsu
Not your grand-mère's Sleeping Beauty: Do you love fairy tales? Elizabeth Blackwell's enchanting While Beauty Slept is like no version of the Sleeping Beauty story that you've read before. Told from the perspective of Elise, a peasant girl who sets out to make her fortune while hiding a secret past, While Beauty Slept is a rich and immensely satisfying reimagining of the classic fairy tale, one that looks at the ageless struggle between love and duty, and asks whether it's possible to be true to both. —Alma Katsu, author of The Taker trilogy
From the Publisher
"Old-fashioned story-telling and historical fiction create a charming alchemy in this clever reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. . . . With its palace intrigue, romance and death, this is no fairy tale but enchanting nonetheless." —People

“Blackwell treats readers to a retelling that makes historical fiction of the fantasy … Following in the inspired footsteps of Gregory Maguire’s fairy-tale twists, this debut novel puts a spellbinding new spin on a classic yarn.” —Booklist 

"Blackwell is faithful to the original while offering a fresh interpretation. . . . [T]he twists that resolve the women's stories are both convincing and moving." —Publishers Weekly

"Unexpected and heartrending . . . 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

“Elizabeth Blackwell is a story-telling genius. Her mesmerizing writing weaves a spell that will enchant you. While Beauty Slept . . . will take your breath away.” —Meg Cabot, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries and Heather Wells mystery series

"Elizabeth Blackwell’s writing is magical in this complex, dark, and sensual retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Imaginative, evocative full of surprises, this is a captivating debut." –M.J. Rose, international bestselling author of Seduction
 

M. J. Rose
Elizabeth Blackwell's writing is magical in this complex, dark, and sensual retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Imaginative, evocative full of surprises, this is a captivating debut. And like all great fairy tales, this one has the kind of happy ending that requires tissues to wipe way the tears. --M.J. Rose, international bestselling author of Seduction

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 won more than twenty-five AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for The Seamstress by Sara Tuvel Bernstein, for which she also earned a coveted Audie Award. AudioFile magazine has also named her one of recording's Golden Voices. Wanda appears regularly on the professional stage in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

While Beauty Slept 4.4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 20 reviews.
MouseyBL More than 1 year ago
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.
sneps More than 1 year ago
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!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Told from an interesting perspective - a woman who spent many years in service in a castle and knows the truth behind the sleeping beauty story and is ready to share the truth.  Elise loses her entire family and returns to her mother's home town and previous place in the castle.  She quickly rises to a great position within the castle and has quite some interesting experiences while trying to mix and mingle amongst the elite. First, I loved how the story was presented - as a story told from a great grandmother to her great granddaughter I loved it.  It allowed for Elise to just tell the story from beginning to end and to give her story purpose and reason.  I also loved the amount of time that her story spanned and although it is set up that she definitely ends up with a family, it doesn't ruin who the family is started with.  Although it didn't end up being quite the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, I loved it just the same.
Justpeachy1 More than 1 year ago
While Beauty Slept has been touted as a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty fairy-tale. It is written by Elizabeth Blackwell and though there are elements of the original tale, this story is so much more than your average re-telling. It has substance, emotion and brings back the original Grimm's fairy-tale feel. It does not rely on a happy ending and is more believable and realistic than the Disney classics most of us grew up with. A wonderfully, refreshing story that will have readers more interested in the maid than the princess! What I liked: Elizabeth Blackwell tells the Sleeping Beauty yarn with a totally different perspective. Elise Darliss is a maid in the king's household. She is devoted to the royal family and eventually becomes the companion to the sleeping princess, but her story is anything but a happily-ever-after tale. This book is dark and edgy. There is everything from witchery to betrayal and the secrets abound. Blackwell has taken the framework of the classic tale and turned it on it's head. I don't even think "re-telling" is the word I would use to describe it. It is more like a re-imagining. It takes the essential details but transforms them into a totally different story. In a few words, I loved it. Blackwell is so expressive. Her details of medieval life were dramatic and stark. She didn't shy away from the uncomfortable details of life on a farm, or life in the castle. There was a definite distinction between those who worked in the castle and those who lived in the castle, but Elise's interactions with the royal family were poignant and felt very realistic. There was back-biting and broken promises and everything you would imagine going on in a royal court, as well as, emotional moments that were as beautiful as they were unexpected. I felt like this was a story about a young woman who was determined to make something of herself. To live a life worth living despite whether or not she got her happy ending. I think we as readers often believe every fairy-tale had a happy ending. Have you read the original Grimm version of the fairy-tales we know and love? They were hardly tales of perfect romance and sappy heroines. They were dark and dangerous in their time and I think Blackwell conveys that same urgency and direness that the Grimm brothers made famous. Just an excellent book in every way. Bottom Line: The publishing industry, as well as, television and movies have been inundated with such an influx of fairy-tale retelling and stories that twist the fabric of the original stories so much they are hardly recognizable. While Beauty Slept is very different. It boils it all down to a coming of age story of a young girl who wanted a better future. But what she found was heart-breakingly real. I loved it from start to finish and you will too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ending was a huge letdown...waste of time reading as the book summary makes it out to be so much more dramatic than it is. Boring is a great word to describe this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story. Makes you believe in happy endings.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty, I appreciated a different approach. But there's no Aurora in this book!
StephWard More than 1 year ago
'While Beauty Slept' is the beautiful and tragic fairy tale reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. The novel follows main character Elise - now an old woman - as she tells her great-granddaughter what really happened behind the story of Sleeping Beauty. Elise should know it well - she was the princess' companion when everything happened. The novel is Elise's story - of her life before and while at court, the lives of several powerful women, and the secrets of the princess herself - and what really happened during that fateful time. I'm rarely at a loss for words while writing a review, but this book has left me completely speechless. Nothing I write will do this novel the justice it deserves, but I'll do my best to share my thoughts and opinions. Where to start? The entire book is magical. I was hooked from the very first line and I didn't quit reading until I had literally read the entire thing - which happened to be all at one time. The cast of characters that we meet in the story is unusual - a haphazard mix of the poor and the incredibly wealthy, a blend of men and women who search for happiness but remain lost, while others find exactly what they were looking for - even if it means not having the life they thought they wanted. Each character in the story - mostly the secondary ones - have distinct personalities and quirks that make them unique. The author wrote about each one in such a personal way that I felt as if I saw them - knew them - even if it wasn't more than an acquaintance. I don't even know how to describe Elise along with the other major characters in the book. Elise is determined to make something out of her life by working as a servant in the castle. She makes her way there and eventually starts moving up the hierarchy. She's humble, smart, and devoted - to her mother and later to the princess and the other women at court she becomes a confident to. Elise matures completely throughout the span of the story - in the beginning of her tale, she is a mere girl, but by the end she is an old woman telling her story to her great-granddaughter. Elise grows and matures in all ways - emotionally, physically, mentally, and any other way possible. I loved watching her character grow and expand throughout the story. The plot of the novel is phenomenal. It's said to be a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, but it's so much more than that. It's a story of love, loss, grief, hope, dark secrets, fate, and friendship - just to name some of the themes that run throughout it's pages. Almost all readers know at least the basics of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, so parts of novel do match up with the story we've known for so long. I liked it when the two synched up because it made me remember the old adage that says in every lie (or legend) is a nugget of truth. Those words are more than appropriate for the story and I think it made the book just a bit easier to believe - that what happened in the story may have really happened. The writing was phenomenal. The author used just enough detail and imagery to make me jump inside her world, but she didn't overdo it. There weren't overdone descriptions or flashy imagery that could mess up a story and the reader's experience. It was written with a simple beauty and a natural flow that carries the reader away on the journey with Elise without even realizing that it happened. The simplicity of the imagery and details only enhanced my reading of the book. It had a perfect balance of the two that kept the readers fully engrossed in the story without overstimulating their senses. As I mentioned above, I absolutely loved every aspect of this book. Every. Single. One. I can't find a bad thing to say about it at all. I got so caught up in the story and was so far into the world the author created, that I had major visceral reactions to situations that happen. I don't normally react so strongly to a book - very rarely do I actually cry or get so mad that I don't want to read anymore. When I come across a novel that can get that kind of gut reaction out of me - I know that it's something amazing. And this one had me on an emotional roller coaster of feelings - I was laughing at times, sobbing during others, and so mad that I almost flung the book across the room and started ranting at the characters. Even after finishing the book, I couldn't get it out of my head. The characters, the story, the world that they lived in - I couldn't stop thinking about them or certain parts of the story line itself. This is one book I know for sure I will be re-reading time and again because of it's magnificent writing style and enchanting story. I can't recommend this book highly enough! Every reader should give it a shot - even if you're not a fairy tale type reader - because the quality of the writing and the story itself will sweep you off your feet. Fans of fantasy, fairy tales, retellings, and historical fiction need to read this book NOW. I swear you won't be disappointed. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
arbjamesAJ More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago