Title: Ella Enchanted
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fiction – Retelling
Publication Date: September 1st 1998
Publisher: Scholastic Books
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“It is helpful to know the proper way to behave, so one can decide whether or not to be proper.”
At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read. Gail Carson Levine’s examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor. Excerpt from Goodreads
I feel like this is a confession that I will regret making. I was a fan of the movie *hides* This is my first time reading Ella Enchanted and now I understand why everyone hates the film!
Ella Enchantedis what every great middle-grade novel should be. Great adventures, obstacles to over-come, engaging characters and a little magic. This book pulled all of these things well. Ella Enchanted is a retelling of the beloved fairy tale Cinderella, which is a personal favorite of mine. This is a much more modern adaption of the tale, there is no insta-love here. The book is a very short and fast read – I enjoyed every minute of it. I’d been meaning to read a book by Gail Carson Levine for awhile now and it looks like this was the perfect place to pick to discover her writing. I’m 100% going to be reading more of her work.
I adored the character of Ella. Yes, she had a curse on her where she had to obey whatever anyone said to her. Obviously this could ruin someone’s life or get them killed but she rebelled against it as hard as she could. It even caused her pain resisting the requests that were harmful to her. She wasn’t the best at keeping her secret about the curse, even if she never directly came out and said it. It was pretty obviously to anyone who was demanding. Still, she tried her hardest to have her own ideas, her own independence and her own life really. She was kind but believable and she could be immature – like every girl her age should be from time to time.
I loved the her love interest Prince Char – he was genuinely interested in everything she had to say and found her to be the most amazing person he had ever met. He was friends with her for a long time first before confessing his feelings and he was 100% dedicated to her. He was basically a sweetheart.
Yes, Ella and Char were a little young to be talking about marriage but we aren’t talking about modern times here – they were just at the right age in a different century. They did feel like very young characters but they were young characters so I appreciated that they didn’t try to make them act like they were 25 or something . They talked exactly how you might suspect someone of their age doing so. It was completely endearing and adorable.
Loved all the side characters, even Lucinda was fun to me. I loved that most of the characters evolved through the story and some did not. Great storytelling.
I will quickly address the movie that was based off this book. I saw the movie that stars Anne Hathaway many moons ago and really enjoyed it. It was really cheesy, not that well-done and all-around silly. However, there was something charming about it – maybe because I really liked the lead actors but the movie was comforting and safe to me and I loved that about it. You could just let your brain shut down and watch something mindless. Is this worth a watch if you’ve grown up on the book? NO, so much NO. Yes, I enjoyed the film and still do. However, I never grew up with the book and after reading it, I now know why fans are so harsh on the film. The film has almost nothing to do with the story. The characters are 100% different – they tried to modernize it and they added in new plots that aren’t nearly as good as the ones in the original series. Basically, avoid the film.
Obviously, I highly recommend this to a younger audience or for someone like me, who is young at heart!