Beauty and the Beast
Written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and Marie-Michelle Joy
Illustrated by Walter Crane
This rendition of the classic fairy tale is based on the original eighteenth century version. No Disney elements are found here. This original version was written and distributed widely in France to protest the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose or refuse a mate. The original version was a full length novel written for adults, which was later shortened.
At the beginning of the tale, the reader meets a wealthy merchant who has six sons and six daughters. They live sumptuously and prosperously. Suddenly, disaster strikes. The merchant loses his home and possessions in a fire, and pirates sack his shipping business. The distraught family retreats to a poor life in a forest cottage, which is their only remaining possession. All his daughters complain with the exception of the youngest named Beauty who is determined to make their meager life a happy one. Then one day she asks her father for a favor. She longs to see one beautiful rose. The merchant sets off to find one and his journey takes him to a mysterious castle. He is left alone but treated lavishly. Suddenly an ugly beast appears. He promises to let the traveler return home if he will return with one of his daughters to live with him in the castle. The merchant reluctantly agrees.
Beauty feels responsible for her father’s plight and volunteers to return with him to the castle of the Beast where they find unexpected surprises and treasures. When it comes time for the merchant to return home, both he and his daughter are distraught. Strange dreams bring about strange occurrences. What will happen to Beauty and the Beast? Remember, I told you that this is not a classic Disney fairytale.
The illustrations are the original nineteenth century drawings by Walter Crane. They are extraordinarily detailed and magnificently colored. The reader will think herself transported to a museum. They add to the flavor of an authentic French period piece. As an adult, I enjoyed this rendition of the classic tale. I believe that tweens and teens will find this “grown-up” rendition of Beauty and the Beast a most appealing one. Available in kindle and paperback versions.
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