Here is the second of this series,
For years the only version of Beauty and the Beast I would read was Robin McKinley’s. Upon discovering it as a teen her retelling instantly became my favorite book. As several of my friends (as well as nieces and nephews!) would tell you *this* was the book I recommended more than any other for many years.
For me this book introduced me to the idea of alternate realities. Reading a story in the early industrial revolution was so *different* than anything else I had come across. It opened the whole new world of what is now called paranormal literature to me. Because if this story, with it’s clear elements of fantasy and magic, could be set then, in a time which seemed far more real and recent than traditional fairy tales, certainly there could be stories set in the now with these elements (as opposed to the more science fiction bent of, say, A Wrinkle in Time). These days with Harry Potter and Twilight the idea doesn’t seem radical at all, but to me, in the late seventies the idea was breathtakingly new.
I still haven’t picked up her revised version, I cherish the original one so much I’m not sure how I’d handle any changes! One day soon, perhaps, I’ll take a chance. But until then I think I’ll dig out my old battered copy, the one with the woman in a yellow dress on the cover, giving the book a slightly free spirited/psychedelic tone and utterly perfect.
Since Beauty came out several other authors have tackled the rewritten fair tale, from Mercedes Lackey with her 500 Kingdoms, to Jessica Day George stories, including Princess of the Midnight Ball.