Just Ella (Palace Chronicles Series #1)

Just Ella (Palace Chronicles Series #1)

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Just Ella (Palace Chronicles Series #1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

It's a familiar story: In spite of the obstacles put in her way by her wicked stepmother, Ella goes to the ball, sweeps Prince Charming off his feet, and is chosen to be his bride. Now she's comfortably ensconced in the palace, awaiting marriage to the man of her dreams. It's happily ever after time, right?

Wrong! Life for Ella has become an endless round of lessons and restrictions; even worse, Prince Charming turns out to be more like Prince Boring. Why can't she talk with him the way she can with Jed, her earnest young tutor?

Slowly, Ella comes to realize she doesn't want the life she fought so hard to win. But breaking her engagement proves more difficult -- and dangerous -- than escaping her stepmother's tyranny.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416936497
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 03/27/2007
Series: Palace Chronicles Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at HaddixBooks.com.

Read an Excerpt

A long, dull afternoon of needlepoint stretched ahead of me, so I dawdled leaving the dining room. That meant I was alone when I felt a timid tug on my dress.

"Please, miss. I mean, Princess."

It was the child I'd sent for the doctor.

"Me mum, she's the one tending to that lord now, she says he's got a fair to middling chance of making it, and if he pulls through the night, he could live another twenty years. Except nobody knows if he'll ever be really himself again, because he can't move one of his arms and one of his legs, and half his face don't move neither. But" -- the last words came out in a rush -- "me mum says he wouldn't be alive at all if you hadn't sent for help so quick and made sure he could breathe and all."

The child stood back on her heels, looking at me doubtfully, as if afraid I might punish her for speaking.

"Thank you," I said. "I hope somebody else thanked you too, for running for help so quickly. You're really the one who saved Lord Reston's life."

The girl hunched her shoulders modestly.

"That's what me mum says."

I felt the familiar stab of envy, hearing someone talk about a mother who obviously loved her. My own mother had died when I was born, and my father said it hurt to talk about her, so I had very little in the way of even secondhand memories. Certainly Lucille was no substitute for a loving mother. And I'd lost my father, too.

I dragged myself out of self-pity and directed my attention back to the child. Her dirt-colored hair was cut in a ragged circle around her face, and her cheeks and hands were so grubby it was hard to tell how long ago they'd been washed, if ever. And anyhow, her nose was too big and her mouth was too small -- no one could mistake her purpose in life to be providing beauty. But her eyes were lively and quick, and I found myself looking at them and forgetting the rest.

"What's your name, child?" I asked.


"I'm -- well, I guess you know who I am," I said. "How about if we make a deal. If you get a chance, could you let me know tomorrow how Lord Reston is doing? You're the _rst person who's been honest with me. I don't have anything with me now, but I'm sure I can come up with some reward for you."

Mary giggled.

"Oh, that don't matter. I just thought you'd want to know. I heard you ask at the table. Don't that Madame Bisset beat all?"

Mary's pronunciation of "Madame" was actually better and more French sounding than mine. She probably knew more about palace protocol too. I squinted thoughtfully. Mary wasn't more than four or _ve years younger than me. It didn't seem fair that I was now a princess and she would always be a servant, just because I looked a little prettier than her.

"Madame Bisset does beat all," I agreed. "You won't get in trouble for talking to me, will you?"

"Are you kidding?" Mary said. "Not as long as you don't mind."

"All right, then -- ," I started, when someone called from down the corridor, "Princess -- "

"See you tomorrow," I told Mary.

I went off to my needlepoint feeling a little cheerier.

That evening was my time to meet with the prince. We had an hour together just about every other night, depending on his schedule. I saw him at the banquet table every night, of course, but that was often from a distance, because the seating chart always changed. In the beginning, they always placed me with Madame Bisset and my other instructors, so they could correct any horrifying error I made before it attracted too much attention. I could tell someone thought I was learning something, because in the last few days I'd occasionally gotten to sit near people who hadn't heard anything but the castle's of_cial story -- that I was a foreign princess who'd disguised herself as a commoner, because I wanted to win Prince Charming's love on my own merits, not because of my father's vast lands. I thought anyone who believed the castle's of_cial story had to be several logs short of a roaring _re, but nobody asked me.

Now I sat in the prince's vast antechamber, waiting. The protocol of these visits was strictly regimented. Someone -- usually one of my older and therefore more mature ladies-in-waiting -- had to walk me down the hall and make sure there was a chaperon in attendance. My lady-in-waiting would curtsy and discreetly remove herself. Then the door to the prince's bedchambers, a place I'd never seen, would open, and I'd catch my breath and try to make conversation with the prince, the man I was going to marry.

I studied the tapestry on the wall, a dramatic scene of huntsmen killing a wild boar. There were dogs yapping at the boar, blood pouring from his sides, a nobleman with a sword poised above him, ready to deliver the _nal thrust. Women must have stitched this gory scene -- needlepoint wasn't for men. How did that _t with Madame Bisset's notion that women must be protected from all unpleasantness? I dismissed her ideas as too silly to even think about.

Behind me, tonight's chaperon, an ancient retainer of the king's, snuffled. He sounded like he had a bad cold. The candles sputtered in their sconces. The old grand-father clock by the door donged eight times. Not twelve -- not midnight, the hour I had dreaded and run from on the most exciting evening of my entire life...

Remembering the ball, I almost missed the opening door. But then there was the prince, in all his glory: clear blue eyes, high cheekbones, rugged jaw, blond hair precisely the right length because it was cut every fourth day by the royal barber. Tonight the prince was wearing a deep blue waistcoat that exactly matched his eyes and showed off his muscular chest and trim waist. My heart quickened, as always. Dizzily, I thought back to a summer afternoon years ago, before the Step-Evils entered my life, when several of the other girls in the neighborhood and I were wading in the creek behind our house, talking of whom we would marry.

"This is posh," Vena, a gloomy girl none of us really liked, had muttered. "We'll all settle for whoever asks us. We'll just be lucky if we don't get someone like my dad."

Her father was a well-known ne'er-do-well, who spent most of his time in the village tavern.

"Not me," I said. "I won't settle. If the right person doesn't ask, I won't marry at all."

Some of the girls gasped, I remember. What would they have said if I'd vowed to marry a prince?

Now I murmured, "Your Majesty," trying to sound properly digni_ed and feminine and loving. I bent forward and extended my hand for kissing. Charm took it, and the brush of his lips on my skin sent shivers down my spine.

"Princess," he said.

His voice was low and deep, just as you would expect. Perfect, like everything else about him.

He sat down beside me, his left leg a scant inch from my skirt.

"Have you had a good day?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "And you?"

I hesitated. Had he heard about Lord Reston? Would I be violating some etiquette rule by bringing up his condition? I didn't know if Prince Charming realized that Lord Reston was tutoring me, or if Prince Charming even knew who Lord Reston was. No wonder I kept making so many gaffes -- I never thought to ask the important questions until it was too late. Tonight, I decided, the less said the better.

"My day was _ne, Your Majesty," I murmured.

"Good," he said.

The chaperon coughed behind us. The clock ticked. I saw the time on its face: 8:03. And already Prince Charming and I had run out of things to say.

I often wished, during these stiff meetings, that I could skip ahead in my life, past the glorious wedding, to maybe a year from now. Then, after many hours together without a chaperon, I could picture the prince and I cuddling cozily on these cushions instead of sitting stiffly an inch apart. We'd share our deepest thoughts and dreams, forgetting there was a castle or a kingdom or anything outside our love for each other. We'd call each other Charm and El, not "Majesty" and "Princess."

So far I'd called Prince Charming "Charm" only in my mind.

Prince Charming gave me an innocent, adorable smile. He didn't seem to realize that the chaperon made me feel awkward, or that the silence between us was uncomfortable and unnatural.

Charm and I hadn't talked much the night of the ball either, but then, we didn't need to. When we danced, he kept one hand on just the right spot on the small of my back, gently guiding me. His other hand held mine. We looked into each other's eyes, and it seemed like he already knew everything about me. He didn't let me dance with anyone else. He whispered in my ear, "You're the most beautiful girl here."

Hey, I was as susceptible to flattery as the next girl.

Sometimes he still told me I was beautiful, but it wasn't like he was really paying attention.

"What are you thinking about?" I asked.

He jerked his head toward me, jolted by the urgency in my voice.

"The hunt," he said, then looked puzzled. I may have surprised him into telling the truth.

"You went hunting today," I said, trying to coax more out of him. "Did you catch much?"

The word catch sounded odd. Back home we used to talk about catching _sh. That's what I was thinking of. But the deer and wild boars and other animals worthy of royalty's attention weren't "caught." Should I have said "killed"? Were ladies allowed to say that? How could Prince Charming and I ever talk the way I wanted to -- no holds barred, our thoughts as close as our bodies had been at the grand ball -- if we couldn't even use the same words?

The prince smiled indulgently.

"Don't trouble your mind about that," he said. "The kingdom is in _ne shape. Why, we throw away food here at the castle that would be a feast in Suala."

Suala was a neighboring kingdom. We had been at war with Suala for as long as I could remember, so maybe the prince was only showing bravado, the way street urchins brag about the number of maggots in the bread they steal. But still, I wondered....

"Why?" I asked. "Why throw away food when some of your own subjects go hungry each night? Why, I myself know -- "

The prince toyed with a ringlet that had escaped from the ribbon holding my hair in place. He wrapped and unwrapped my long blond curl around his _ngers. I wished my hair had feeling. I wished he were touching my hand instead. I couldn't remember what I was going to say I knew.

The prince chuckled.

"So my princess worries about the poor," he said. "If it pleases you, I'll order that our table scraps be set outside the palace gate each evening."

"It's that easy?" I asked. "Just like that?"

The prince shrugged.

"Why not? It matters not to me."

He smiled and I should have smiled back, given him the gratitude he deserved. But his last words stopped me.

Why didn't his own hungry subjects matter to him? What was wrong with this man?

Copyright © 1999 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Just Ella 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 217 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER! I was 9 when I read this book and I couldn't put it down. This book made me realize that I love to read spinoffs of fairytales. This book makes you feel like your in the book. I reccomend this book to girls 11 yrs and up if you love to read if not 14 years and up. Also another book by Haddix that is well written is Palace of Mirrors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Its mainly about a girl who thinks life will be perfect once she marries Prince Charming. WRONG! Ella is a great character who shows that you dont need magic to make your happily ever after.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read a long time back. Reread it a few times definitly a favorite. I'm 24 now and still like this retelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I luved this book! I reccomend it to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ella from ella enchanted( except she doesnt have a fairy godmother) is engaged to prince charming. She realizes that his love is a show and tells him that she doesnt want to merry him. He reveals his true self and puts her in jail untill she comes to her sences about the subject. She digs her way out wih the help of her servant friend and reunites with her tutor who is helping the sick from the war. She realizes who she realy loves... This is a great book! I couldnt put it down! Very well written! I hope Mrs. Haddix writes a sequal! And soon! Oh and i there is one please inform me and title your review to bella123! Thanks, Reader :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good. It is about ella a poor girl who goes to a ball and dances with the prince. She ends up becoming the princess but learns she dosnt like that kind of life. This is a great spin on the origional cinderella story. Also by haddix i reccomend double identity and uprising. (Pardon my spelling) :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this princess cinderalla remix! I just didnt like the ending. Well i liked ut i just eish it was longer!!!!! Really good overall!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was really interesting at first and the main plot was simply marvolous. What would happen to cinderella if the happy ever after was a hoax? I thought the first hundread pages were very good but the end didnt capture me at all. No real feelings were shared with the prince , ella, and sorry-i-forgot-his-name ellas tutor u might say i guess. The end i found was very tedious waiting for something to happen when she escaped (spolier) and i ended just skipping pages with the same old event. I thought this was okay-but-good-as-well but i wouldnt stop u from buying the book except for SOME BORING PARTS i dont regret reading just ella.
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MissPrint More than 1 year ago
When Ella attends the royal ball and wins the affections of Prince Charming, it should be a dream come true. All of the other pining girls in the kingdom of Fridesia certainly think so. When Ella is whisked to the palace for her engagement, it should be the perfect happy ending. But life in the palace isn't what Ella imagined. Instead of being welcomed and accepted Ella is subjected to countless lessons on etiquette and manners, genealogy and protocol. Ella is told how to dress, how to behave and where to go at all times. No matter what she does, it seems that Ella is wrong or committing some grievous faux pas. All of that might be bearable with Prince Charming beside her. But after their whirlwind romance at the ball, Ella is beginning to realize that Prince Charming's beautiful face isn't hiding inner depths. In fact, it isn't hiding much at all. Ella got herself to the ball and into the palace. She'll have to trust her instincts and ingenuity again to get herself out in Just Ella (1999) by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Just Ella is the first book in Haddix's Palace Chronicles series which continues with Palace of Mirrors and Palace of Lies. Just Ella is an original retelling of Cinderella that considers what might come after the typical happily ever after ending of the fairy tale. While Ella though marrying Prince Charming would be her dream come true she finds it hard to reconcile the luxury and rigidity of palace life with the common sense she developed while working as a servant for her step-mother and step-sisters. Although Ella is a teenaged character (and getting ready to marry) her narrative reads much younger making Just Ella a book with crossover potential for middle grade and young adult readers. Colloquialisms in the dialog and Ella's modern sensibilities also led this story a fractured fairy tale vibe as the original fairy tale is bent and twisted to a more modern atmosphere and tone. Just Ella is not always a ground-breaking story--the plot and themes here will be immediately recognizable by any fans of "anti-princess" tales--but Ella has her own charms as she struggles to make her own happy ending. Worth a look for any fairy tale readers and especially fans of retellings. Possible Pairings: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp, A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The only problem i noticed was the ending. It left me with so many questions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the authors twist on Cinderella ( also known as Ashpuddle). Please enjoy this amazing book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If u have read all of the books this is ufor u: Palace of mirrors is the BEST!!!!!!!! Better than Just Ella trust me!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing was good but the ending needed a little help and the story was not well devolped
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cinderella's after story is not this:She married and became a qwean. There were some secrets. First Prince Charmings a frod. Now Ella will tell it all. When meet Ella you know shs differntt. You will love this heart warming story. In Ella's words. This is not good for kids that are 6 years olds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For christians and nonchristians but really BEST BOOK EVA
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Ellas character she is such a fighter and believes in many of the same values of me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Really really liked it and as soon as i finished it i went and told all my friends they just had to read it. ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
? { )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I get to met the author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago