Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

by Robin McKinley

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060753108
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/26/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Robin McKinley's other books include the Newbery Award-winning The Hero and the Crown; Newbery Honor Book The Blue Sword; Sunshine; Spindle's End; Rose Daughter; Deerskin; The Outlaws of Sherwood; and the short story collections The Door in the Hedge; A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories; and, with her husband, the author Peter Dickinson, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits. She lives in England with her husband, three whippets, and over five hundred rosebushes.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I was the youngest of three daughters. Our literal-minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour, but few people except perhaps the minister who had baptized all three of us remembered my given name.

My father still likes to tell the story of how I acquired my odd nickname: I had come to him for further information when I first discovered that our names meant something besides you-come-here. He succeeded in explaining grace and hope, but he had some difficulty trying to make the concept of honour understandable to a five-year-old.

I heard him out, but with an expression of deepeningdisgust; and when he was finished I said: "Huh! I'd rather be Beauty." He laughed; and over the next few weeks told everyone he met this story of his youngest child precocity. I found that my ill-considered opinion became a reality; the name at least was attached to me securely.

All three of us were pretty children, with curly blond hair and blue-grey eyes; and if Grace's hair was the brightest, and Hope's eyes the biggest, well, for the first ten years the difference wasn't too noticeable. Grace, who was seven years older than 1, grew into a beautiful, and profoundly graceful, young girl. Her hair was wavy and fine and luxuriant, and as butter-yellow as it had been when she was a baby (said doting friends of the family), and her eyes were long-lashed and as blue as a clear May, morning after rain (said her doting swains). Hope's hair darkened to a rich chestnut-brown, and her big eyes turned a smoky green. Grace was an inch or two the taller, and her skin was rosy where Hope's was ivory pae; but except for their dramatic colouring my sisters lookedvery much alike. Both were tall and slim, with tiny waists, short straight noses, dimples when they smiled, and small delicate hands and feet.

I was five years younger than Hope, and I don't know what happened to me. As I grew older, my hair turned mousy, neither blond nor brown, and the baby curl fell out until all that was left was a stubborn refusal to cooperate with the curling iron; my eyes turned a muddy hazel. Worse, I didn't grow; I was thin, awkward, and undersized, with big long-fingered hands and huge feet. Worst of all, when I turned thirteen, my skin broke out in spots. There hadn't been a spot in our mother's family for centuries, I was sure. And Grace and Hope went on being innocently and ravishingly lovely, with every eligible young man -- and many more that were neither dying of love for them.

Since I was the baby of the family I was a little spoiled. our mother died less than two years after I was born, and our little sister Mercy died two weeks after her. Although we had a series of highly competent and often affectionate nursemaids and governesses, my sisters felt that they had raised me. By the time it was evident that I was going to let the family down by being plain, I'd been called Beauty for over six years; and while I came to hate the name, I was too proud to ask that it be discarded. I wasn't really very fond of my given name, Honour, either, if it came to that: It sounded sallow and angular to me, as if "honourable" were the best that could be said of me. My sisters were too kind to refer to the increasing inappropriateness of my nickname. It was all the worse that they were as good-hearted as they were beautiful, and their kindness was sincerely meant.

Our father, bless him, didn't seem to notice that there was any egregious, and deplorable, difference between his first two daughters and his youngest. On the contrary, he used to smile at us over the dinner table and say howpleased he was that we were growing into three such dissimilar individuals; that he always felt sorry for families who looked like petals from the same flower. For a while his lack of perception hurt me, and I suspected him of hypocrisy; but in time I came to be grateful for his generous blindness. I could talk to him openly, about my dreams for the future, without fear of his pitying me or doubting my motives.

The only comfort I had in being my sisters' sister was that I was "the clever one." To a certain extent this was damning me with faint praise, in the same category as accepting my given name as an epithet accurately reflecting my limited worth -- it was the best that could be said of me. Our governesses had always remarked on my cleverness in a pitying tone of voice. But at least it was true. My intellectual abilities gave me a release, and an excuse. I shunned company because I preferred books; and the dreams I confided to my father were of becoming a scholar in good earnest, and going to University. It was unheard-of that a woman should do anything of the sort-as several shocked governesses were only too quick to tell me, when I spoke a little too boldly -- but my father nodded and smiled and said, "We'll see." Since I believed my father could do anything -- except of course make me pretty -- Iworked and studied with passionate dedication, lived in hope, and avoided society and mirrors.

Our father was a merchant, one of the wealthiest in the city. He was the son of a shipwright, and had gone to sea as a cabin boy when he was not yet ten years old; but by the time he was forty, he and his ships were known in most of the major ports of the world. When he was forty, too, he married our mother, the Lady Marguerite, who was just seventeen. She came of a fine old family that had nothing but its bloodlines left to live on, and her parents were more than happy to accept my father's suit, with its generous bridal settlements. But it had been a happy marriage, old friends told us girls.

Beauty. Copyright © by Robin McKinley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Beauty 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 286 reviews.
Withinu101 More than 1 year ago
My mother actually recommended this book to me when I was sixteen years old and I loved then and love it now. This is not your typical meet the beautiful protagnist and then she meets ugly beast and in time she learns to love him. This has a different twist to it! Beauty is not at all physically beautiful, her two sisters in which shocking are kind, and loving sisters. Beauty is just "plain jane" and throughout the book she discovers her talents, wit, sense of humor, her own beauty and the love of her life. Great book, for young women who are looking on the inside for something. Wonderful introduction of how to help others as well as discovering yourself!
pinkfairytale More than 1 year ago
This book is simply what the title states : Beauty ! I mean this is Beauty and the Beast no changes made just simply and beautifully retold! If you love Disney's Beauty in the Beast you will love this book. This is a great book for girls of any age who are just looking for a classic fairytale that is longer than 20 pages!
clemmy More than 1 year ago
I have never been a big fan of Disney's interpretation of things, and I found this book very refreshing in that Beauty and the Beast actually have a relationship and a reason to love one another. Beauty is very easily respected because she has reasons for all that she does. She loves to read, and she loves her horse Greatheart. This book is very well-written and enjoyable. It's a love story, but instead of "oh, they fell in love and lived happily ever after," we as readers watch their love develop and grow. Beauty must learn about herself and the Beast's history as she gets used to living in an overly large castle infused with magic who wait at her beck and call (sometimes before) and some who help without Beauty wanting it. At the end, you are convinced that they are truly and perfectly in love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story developed well and had great visual elements and strong characters. However, the ending seemed cut short and rushed after so much building and story-telling it just suddenly came to an end. It felt as if Mckinley wasn't quite sure how to wrap up all the loose ends and so took the shortcut way and everything just magically happened.
Books-Rule_Cats-Do-Too More than 1 year ago
This was such a lovely book until the ending. I felt that it left a lot to be desired. It wrapped up in about five pages, without much detail. Up until then the characters all showed depth and intrigue. I adored the enchanted castle. It was very magical and I couldn¿t help wishing I were Beauty, for I too was falling in love the Beast. When things finished however, there was not enough detail. It didn¿t make much sense, and I was frustrated with the lack of explanation. There is supposedly a sequel or another part at least, to this story, so perhaps I will read that to have my admiration of McKinley restored. I¿d still recommend the book to anyone who either likes McKinley¿s stories or people who enjoy this sort of genre period. Perhaps you¿ll have better luck with its ending then I did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read this book every year since I was 13. The retelling is beautiful. Everytime I read it, I fall in love again. Its a sweet, sincere look at finding love based on the heart rather than looks. Wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've loved this book since I first read it 20 years ago. It's still my favorite version of this classic fairy tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly descriptive and immersive. Beautiful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite retelling.
Reach_for_the_Stars More than 1 year ago
This is a book that I think any girl who watched Disney as a child should read. It brings a different spin to the classic tale but one that makes it more real. I bought it on a whim at college and have had to tape up the spin from frequent use.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think every one should read this book, especially if you like fantasy. I loved it I found it to be a captivating story. It is like, yet unlike the Disney version of the fairy tale. I found it enough different that it wasn't repeating it. A good book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Beauty' is an astounding descriptive literary work. Robin Mckinely has found a way to make the traditional fable of 'Beauty and the Beast' into something so tangable you can smell her roses, feel the fresh air, and empathise with the characters. This book is one in a million!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robin McKinley has weaved a story as beautiful and descriptive as they come. I have read this book three times and recommend it to anyone who liked the Disney version of the story. After reading this, you will fall in love with it. Her adventure scenes are thrilling, and her romance ones moving. You won't be able to but the book down!
twilightlost on LibraryThing 9 hours ago
Fairy tales tend to be simplistic, but Robin McKinley takes the story of Beauty and the Beast and fleshes it out to make it a lovely read. The book starts with Beauty's family losing their fortune and having to move to the country, something the city family had never contemplated before. They quickly adapt to their new life and find happiness in the simplicity. There is one rule - they must never go into the forest that backs onto their property.The father, on a return trip from the city, gets lost in the forest and is guided to a castle where he is well looked after for the night. When he is leaving the next morning, he plucks a rose from the garden to take to Beauty, whose one wish for a gift was some rose seeds to plant around the house. The Beast is furious that this man has abused his hospitality, and he emerges to tell the father that he must return in one month, either alone or with one of his daughters, to pay the price.So sets in motion the story of how Beauty comes to live at the castle, and eventually fall in love with the Beast. A quick read, but one I will come back to again.
apartmentcarpet on LibraryThing 9 hours ago
This is exactly what the cover claims: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. If I had to shelve it in a bookstore, I would probably put it in YA fantasy. Overall, a fun read. Short and easy and not requiring much active thought.
thelorelei on LibraryThing 3 days ago
What can I say? This is one of my all-time favorite books. I first read this book in fifth grade and I still read it at least once a year now in my early twenties. This should be shoved forcibly into the hands of young girls, although I don't see why boys wouldn't enjoy it, as well. The protagonist is intelligent and sensible, qualities that sometimes lack in popular role models. It's impossible not to care deeply about her characters.I believe this was McKinley's first book; in this and in all other since then she has demonstrated a mastery of the English language, with an amazing talent for establishing mood through descriptive language.
ncgraham on LibraryThing 3 days ago
At first glance, this seems a somewhat innocuous read: a gentle, pleasing young adult novel based on a well-known fairytale. Yet I am not at all ashamed, and actually quite proud, to name Beauty among my favorite books.Some have criticized Robin McKinley¿s earliest literary effort simply for sticking too closely to the original. I, however, find this way of looking at fairytale retellings shallow. It is not the cosmetic changes that matter¿although there are a few major ones, including the presentation of our heroine, Honour ¿Beauty¿ Blackman, as a plain but studious young woman¿but the depth of the characterizations and the quality of the world-building.To my mind, the complex verbal interactions between Beauty and the Beast were what made the story unique in the first place. McKinley takes this aspect of the fairytale and runs with it. Both her Beauty and her Beast are real people, with their own virtues, flaws, and insecurities. And this is a romance novel in the best sense, not because it is swoony and dramatic, but because it charts the progress of a relationship that seems¿despite the fantasy setting¿true to life.Moreover, McKinley shows herself to be a master of atmosphere. Every setting, whether it is the grandeur of the Beast¿s palace or the simple comforts of the Hustons¿ country home, comes alive through her gorgeous prose: When spring came I dug up the garden and planted it, and weeded it, and prayed over it, and fidgeted; and almost three years of lying fallow agreed with it, because it produced radishes the size of onions, potatoes the size of melons, and melons the size of small sheep. The herb border ran wild, and the air smelled wonderful; the breezes often stirred the piney, mossy smell of the forest with the sharp smell of hers, mixed in the warm smell of fresh bread from the kitchen, and then flung the result over the meadow like a handful of new gold coins. I pruned the apple trees¿there were also the remains of an old orchard, and a few of the trees were still productive¿and had high hopes of the next winter full of apple jelly.Every time I finish reading, I find myself craving fried potatoes and onions, and pining for the Beast¿s magical library (trust me, the Disney version¿s got nothing on it!).Highly recommended.
lycomayflower on LibraryThing 3 days ago
A pleasant young adult book what does what it says on the tin. The telling is tale-ish, with a lot of action summarized rather than presented in-scene. The book excels at creating a context for the story and giving Beauty and her family personalities. The descriptions of the enchantments surrounding the Beast are also quite well done. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get a little more exploration of why Beauty fell in love with the Beast (I would say the Beast is the least-well-developed character in the story), and the end felt very abrupt, especially since we are given something like 50 pages of (lovely) home life for Beauty before the specter of the Beast even arrives. But overall, I enjoyed this retelling, despite its flaws, and I think it would interest readers of the age group for which it was written (elevenish, I'd say).
the_hag on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Beauty (a marvelous retelling of Beauty and the Beast) is divided into three parts, the first tells of her and her families sumptuous life in the city with her father as the head of household with an 18 room mansion complete with servants. In this part of the novel we are lead to see that they are good, kind and decent people...not the vain, spoiled and irresponsible ones portrayed in the story I was told as a child (I particularly liked this about Beauty). Here we see the traditional bones of the story with a few nice embellishments. The father's fortunes are ruined by the loss of his shipping fleet and his eldest daughter's betrothed is lost at sea with them. The middle daughters love interest saves the day for them and they find themselves set up with him the local blacksmith in the small village of Blue Hill, on the remote edge of a dark wood and their experience adjusting to their new homespun county existence. The second half is retelling of the fathers trip back to the city when his fortunes change some and one of his ships turns up. On his return journey, he of course encounters the Beast and the demand of the father's return in 30 days (or else) is made...with the option, of course, for one of his daughters to return in this stead. This section is a bit tedious for me...the endless going on and on about how horrible it is that Beauty is leaving then (boo, hoo)...it was just a bit too much for me, but overall doesn't detract too much from the story. The final section is of course her experience with the monstrous beast (who is rather civilized, except for his appearance of course) and how they come to live and enjoy one another's company. The ending felt a bit rushed, but overall, it had the traditional happily ever after feel to it...and not even a villain really, just the triumph of the human spirit and goodness over the evil magic spell and they live predictably happily ever after. You know...I knew this would be good...but was worried that since it was written twenty years ago that it would be dated...and how pleased I am to be proven wrong! This is simply a sumptuous retelling of Beauty & the Beast!! Exquisite in detail and a joy to read! Unlike the version I was read as a child, Beauty's sisters are not vain or shallow and this isn't a family glad to be rid of the competition...now this is much richer and more complex and in places heartbreaking! Beauty is not without faults though, the characters are richly drawn, but the dialogue and descriptions are a bit repetitive...over emphasis on the dark and haunted nature of the dark woods and on how plain, smart and hard-working Beauty is...but these are easily forgivable as this was McKinley's first novel and I assume that her work will only get better. I give it a solid A, it sticks to the traditional bones of the story, but give it more heart and soul...filling in the outline with outstanding details that bring the entire family and the back story of how Beauty left them to life complete with many enjoyable quirks.
lina_em on LibraryThing 3 days ago
i loved this retelling of beauty. so quiet.
booksandwine on LibraryThing 3 days ago
As the title states, Beauty is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. It's not really like the disney movie (which I love), but it's not bad. Beauty is the youngest of three. Her two older sisters are babes, and she is ironically quite plain. No matter though, as obviously she gets some animal loving. Anyways, she has to go off to this castle and live with the Beast. They fall in love, no beastiality happens, since this is a YA/kids book, and children just don't go for that stuff. I bet you could probably guess the whole plot from the first page and not be too far off the mark. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys fairy tales and brain candy between heavy tomes.
Danielle.Montgomery on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Robin McKinley has done it again! Her retelling of classic fairy tales is unbelievably sweet and utterly unmatched by anyone else in the industry. Not only are her characters lovable, but she weaves such special details into what readers remember of the original story. This book is a perfect read for children and adults alike!
RivkaBelle on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I loved the build-up to the story. McKinley starts by introducing 'Beauty' (the tongue-in-cheek nickname of Honour, the youngest and plainest of three...moreI loved the build-up to the story. McKinley starts by introducing 'Beauty' (the tongue-in-cheek nickname of Honour, the youngest and plainest of three sisters), and her family, and setting the stage for the beginning of a magical adventure. I loved getting more of the 'background' information in this version (as opposed to Disney's Beauty and the Beast which I've just revisited on DVD not so long ago). And I loved that it was Beauty's choice to go to the Beast - no wavering, no questioning, just a 'random' decision to go. Most of us are familiar with the story, so you know how pretty much how it's going to unfold -- but there are some little twists and variations in this version that I found delightful. And I may or may not have fallen in love with the Beast all over again.
countrylife on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Well imagined and sweet retelling of the old story of Beauty and the Beast. From the seaport city to their new village near the forest, the forest itself and the castle hidden within, the settings were rendered realistically. The Beast and the various members of Beauty's family, even her horse, but especially Beauty, herself, were vividly captured for our eyes. I took nary a note as to names or places or quotations; I just floated along and enjoyed the story itself. And enjoy it I certainly did.
JaneBanks on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, by Robin McKinley, was a Phoenix Award Honor book in 1998 and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. This is one of the most popular retellings, if not the most, of the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast.The adventure begins when Beauty¿s father picks a rose for her, his youngest daughter, from the Beast¿s enchanted garden, and is then threatened by the Beast to return to him or to return bringing his daughter, who will then stay with the Beast. This novel is a rather interesting and nice retelling. The imagery is beautiful, the enchanted castle and gardens and roses leaping to life on the page. The character of Beauty is very realistic: a plain, awkward girl with two beautiful older sisters. In fact, Beauty is only her ironic nickname; her given name is Honour. But Beauty goes by her nickname through the entire novel, maybe even growing into it a little. What I love about this retelling is the emphasis on Beauty¿s wonderful family, and how kind and caring they are. The author managed to have a father give up his daughter, but in a loving believable way. Like the classic and its many versions, this is a tale of an enchanted castle and a girl¿s captivity, a unique romance and a magical transformation. It would appeal to any young adult or girl, especially those who love the tale of Beauty and the Beast, or those who enjoy romance and magic.