Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Tiger’s Bride by Angela Carter

Project: Fairy Tale hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader

projectfairytalebutton2Banner created and designed by Alisa @ Picture Me Reading

Aside from The Courtship of Mr. Lyon, this is another Beauty and the Beast short story retelling by Angela Carter under The Bloody Chamber novel. A warning, though, this is not intended for younger readers.

Tiger's Bride01The story begins with the main character narrating her journey from Russia to Italy (North to South). Coming from the North, she is expecting that the South would be warmer, but then, winter comes with them, so they have to endure the cold again. As they do so, the main character watches her father play a game of cards with the Beast.

Eventually, her father loses everything to the Beast up to the point of even betting his own daughter in the gamble that ended with him losing her to the Beast as well. The father is left empty-handed while the main character is asked to live in the Beast’s estate.

The Beast, as the girl observed, is clothed like a man and wears a mask faced like a man as well. The main character notices that the Beast attempts to act human despite the awkwardness it shows while trying to avoid staying down on all fours. Moving on, the main character is frightened of what the Beast might do to her, as she recalls the peculiar stories about half-men-half-beast her nursemaid would tell her about. Upon entering the Beast’s home, everything’s a mess. She sees frames with portraits faced on the wall instead of the other way around. The horses live in the living room, and the windows and doors are broken, too.

Later on, the Beast summons the girl, and the valet explains that the Beast’s only wish is to see her naked. If this happens, the girl is free to go. Unfortunately, the girl declines the offer, also bravely telling the Beast that it’s up to him how much he’d give her in exchange of her nakedness. The Beast feels ashamed and she is led to a windowless room that resembles a prison cell. Afterwards, the valet gives her a diamond earring, but she throws it into the corner.

Tiger's Bride02Then the valet invites the girl to go for a ride, so the three of them ride horses around the vicinity. When they take rest, the girl still doesn’t want to expose her body to the Beast; thus, the valet dares her to see the Beast naked instead. The Beast obliges and exposes himself as a tiger. Afterwards, the girl shows the top portion of her body. The Beast immediately leaves together with the valet to hunt. Upon returning home, the girl sees her father through the mirror that his fortunes are back. And marking his word, the Beast lets the girl go. The girl ponders and realizes that she doesn’t want to leave, so she once again strips naked and goes to the Beast’s room. The story ends with the Beast licking off the skin of the girl that soon replaces into fur.

Tiger's Bride03

Okay, before I start, I would like to say that this is just a rough summary of the story to give you guys an idea what it is about. To be honest, I don’t think my summary would do justice to what the complex story really intends to convey, since I haven’t been able to include all the details that might have been crucial to the story. Therefore, it’s still better to read the original one than solely base your understanding on my summary.

I can confidently say that The Tiger’s Bride is the most complicated, darkest, mature retelling of Beauty and the Beast I’ve ever read. Admittedly, I had a bit of a hard time comprehending the story that after reading it, I had to do a little research online and read a longer version of the summary to confirm my understanding of the story.

Moving on, Angela Carter pretty much veers away from the original Beauty and the Beast tale in that she chooses to create something of her own while she utilizes a wide range of symbolism throughout the story to portray the dark reality of humanity. But of course, she still retains the rose, the girl, the Beast and his castle/home.

Angela Carter evidently gives emphasis on the dehumanization of women in the society we often choose to ignore. This is shown when the main character’s father sold her like an object to the Beast when he loses in the gambling, also referring her to a pearl of great value. This situation doesn’t just happen in books as the reality offer us a darker truth where women are treated as objects and are sold in ordinary transactions or for the purpose of satisfying one’s sexual desire.

Moreover, the main character has just entered the stage of adulthood that the idea of being naked in front of the Beast and imagining having (pardon my word here) sex with him give her the shudders. The white rose tainted with her blood which she gives to her father before she leaves symbolizes purity and virginity that will soon be destroyed by lust and she hates her father for what happens.

However, as the story progresses, she soon realizes that to be strong and to break the stereotypical society, she needs to face her vulnerability and weakness. Therefore, she slowly exposes her body to the Beast, revealing everything she’s afraid of. I guess this act strengthened her individualism more and with the help of the Beast, both of them begin to accept their new own stronger selves with equality.

At a glance, this story might seem a bit boring to some, but overall, if we choose to look at it in a different light and discuss and analyze it deeper, The Tiger’s Bride will surely offer us a unique story relevant to our lives as well as to the society.

**Illustrations created by Joanna Barnum on DeviantART**


The Courtship of Mr. Lyon by Angela Carter

Project: Fairy Tale hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader

projectfairytalebutton2Banner created and designed by Alisa @ Picture Me Reading

Aside from the three (3) novel retellings of Beauty and the Beast I chose for Project: Fairy Tale, I also included two short story retellings by Angela Carter, as recommended by Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books. For now, I’ll be discussing The Courtship of Mr. Lyon first. This short story is part of Angela Carter’s novel, The Bloody Chamber.

To give you a brief background, the story begins with Beauty staring out the window anxiously waiting for her father to come home. Then the scene shifts to her father who gets stuck on the middle of the snow far from home, who couldn’t even contact Beauty of his situation. He just comes from the meeting with his lawyers with regards to his lost fortune. He also feels dismayed that he couldn’t get a single white rose for his daughter’s request.

Mr. Lyon01And then he stumbles upon an enchanted house with no servants but a King Charles spaniel dog who accompanies him throughout his stay. After his needs are provided, he soon leaves for home. On his way out, he sees a single white rose and when he plucks it, a creature with the head of a lion appears. The father explains and shows a picture of Beauty to the Beast. The Beast agrees to let the father go, but asks to bring Beauty to his home for dinner.

Everything goes well, but the Beast’s stature still frightens Beauty, so he decides to help her by gaining their fortune back. The Beast lets the father go to London in exchange for leaving Beauty behind to stay with him.

Mr. Lyon02As Beauty spends her time in Beast’s house, she slowly begins to enjoy the Beast’s company, conversing with him like she’s known him for a long time. And every night as their talk ends, the Beast would walk up to Beauty and kiss her hand.

The time comes when Beauty receives a call from her father, telling her the good news that their fortune is back. The Beast agrees to let Beauty go, accepting her promise that she’ll be back before winter is over. So Beauty leaves and since then, begins to live her life in luxury once again. She sends the Beast some white roses, but more often, she enjoys her current state of living.

Mr. Lyon03Then one day, the King Charles spaniel visits her but looking far from what it did before and then she suddenly remembers her promise as spring comes, so she immediately leaves for Beast’s place. Upon arriving, she finds the Beast on the bed, on the verge of death. Beauty, then, confesses her feelings for the Beast and kisses his paws. When her tears fall on his face, the Beast transforms to a man, still resembling the face of a lion. And they live happily ever after.

Mr. Lyon04

There you have it. Fascinating, isn’t it? I included some pictures to better illustrate the story. It’s a bit different, but Angela Carter retains the basic elements found in the original tale. I love how Carter incorporates the story to the modern setting and it just flows naturally until the end. Even the setting gives out a dark feel to it – with the snow and everything.

Aside from the modern setting, one can also observe that only Beauty and her father are mentioned as a family. Their fortune is also lost, but no details are mentioned on how and why they lost it. Moreover, as compared to the other retellings, as well as to the original tale, the Beast in the short story is given a vivid description of his appearance. In this case, he is likened to a lion. I believe Angela Carter decides to do this in order for us to better understand the frightened feeling of Beauty towards the Beast. If you’ve read the story, there’s a part where Beauty paralleled herself in the situation as the lamb.

If I’m not mistaken, symbolism is also vastly used in the story as well. For one, the lamb itself perfectly depicts Beauty’s appearance we clearly know that the lamb’s fleece is as white as snow. At the beginning, Beauty is also described as someone with the skin as white as snow. Moreover, the season not only shows changes in weather, but in the story, it symbolizes a change of life, too. As winter changes to spring, so has Mr. Lyon’s life changed and perhaps Beauty’s life as well. I also mentioned Beauty because despite the fact that she’s a good person, she clearly wouldn’t accept to let go of her past life of luxury. This is evident in the part where after learning that their fortunes have returned, Beauty is more willing to be indulged in it than spend time with the Beast.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this story even though it’s just short. It’s nice to read something different once in a while for a change. If this will be made into a novel, I’d definitely be buying it. I’m eager to know the story behind Mr. Lyon’s transformation into a beast and how enchantment is involved, since it’s not explained well in the story.

**Illustrations created by Hazel Fisher on DeviantART**

Belle by Cameron Dokey

Project: Fairy Tale hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader

projectfairytalebutton2Banner created and designed by Alisa @ Picture Me Reading

After reading Beauty and Rose Daughter (both books written) by Robin McKinley, I moved on to another Beauty and the Beast retelling entitled Belle by Cameron Dokey. Here’s the summary from the back cover of the book:

Belle coverBelle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters’ awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one’s true love.

During a fierce storm, Belle’s father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwood — and encounters a terrifying and lonely Beast. Now Belle must carve the Heartwood to save her father, and learn to see not with the eyes of her mind, but with the eyes of her heart.

Both Beauty and Rose Daughter impressed me so much that I had high expectations for this one, hoping it’ll be as good as the other two books. Unfortunately, though, I guess I expected too much. With that said, perhaps you’ve already figured it out that I didn’t very much enjoy this book.

To start off, Belle is merely a part of the Once Upon A Time series of retold tales written by various authors. So if you guys happen to be looking for fairy tale retellings, you might try looking into the titles under this series. I believe the books are catered to younger readers.

Now, moving on to the story, the book begins with the definition of beauty. In Annabelle’s (Belle for short) case, beauty and Beauty are entirely two different things. Emphasizing on Beauty (take note of the capital B), Belle doesn’t want to be just beauty, but Beauty instead, like her sisters. She further elaborates that the ordinariness beauty brings will not make her stand out and be Beautiful. She even compares the process of how they’re named in relation to the time they were born to their beauty – her sisters being named as Celestial Heavens and April Dawn, whereas she was just named Annabelle Evangeline, born on an ordinary day at an ordinary time, named after her grandmothers.

The beginning of the story already gives out a negative impression on me since what Belle only does is rant and complain about her name and physical appearance. As the story progresses, it worsens and somehow, I feel like I want to slap her and make some sense out of her.

What’s more disappointing is that there’s no character development in the main characters. I am impressed, however, at the fact that Belle’s sisters have changed to be better and adapted well when they moved to the country. But as for Belle and the Beast, their relationship isn’t able to develop well enough and although the Beast is also portrayed as the kind and gentle creature, Belle couldn’t see that and she doesn’t seem to allow any room for growth and improvement. Her insecurity and low self-esteem cloud her potential to be a dynamic character like Beauty from Robin McKinley’s books; therefore, making the story a bit shallow, lacking substance and depth.

Belle also shows to be immature in terms of her way of thinking and how she reacts to certain situations. As much as she becomes confused with her feelings, I am also confused by her personality. She will do or say one thing and then she’ll contradict herself after. I also find it weird that relationships are possible without having to see each other face to face when conversing. But I guess this is also Cameron Dokey’s way of retelling the story about love through symbolism – in this case, to be able to see the other through the eyes of the heart.

Overall, Belle is a short and easy read as compared to McKinley’s books. I enjoy reading the inspiring story behind the legendary Heartwood Tree, and truthfully speaking, I feel that it’s better than Belle’s story in general. Yes, I won’t deny that true love is defined in the book, but the way it’s represented seems problematic. The ending is also a bit rushed and I don’t know, somehow, the essence of real beauty and virtue over appearance – the real message intended by the original tale of Beauty and the Beast to its readers – cannot be found here. I’m just disappointed that the book leaves me unsatisfied in the end.

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

Project: Fairy Tale hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader

projectfairytalebutton2Banner created and designed by Alisa @ Picture Me Reading

Another Beauty and the Beast retelling by the same author as Beauty. Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

Rose Daughter coverTwenty years ago, Robin McKinley dazzled readers with the power of her novel Beauty. Now this extraordinarily gifted novelist returns to the story of Beauty and the Beast, with a fresh perspective, ingenuity, and mature insight. With Rose Daughter, she presents her finest and most deeply felt work, a compelling, richly imagined, and haunting exploration of the transformative power of love.

It’s kind of surprising to see that an author would write two retellings of the same fairy tale. In Robin McKinley’s case, she wrote two Beauty and the Beast retellings. It’s quite unimaginable. One would surely doubt how the books could stand out as their own and how diverse the plot would be written. Having read the two books now, I can definitely say that Robin McKinley succeeds in delivering two unique retellings of Beauty and the Beast.

Robin McKinley first wrote Beauty around more or less twenty years before she wrote Rose Daughter. And no, Rose Daughter is not a sequel nor has any connections to Beauty. It is completely a whole new different story she started from scratch. Unbelievable, right? But it’s true and this proves how creative and talented Robin McKinley is.

I must say, Rose Daughter takes on a different light for a Beauty and the Beast retelling. The basic storyline is there, but the author crafts the details of the story out of her own. As the title suggests, aside from our main characters, Beauty and Beast, the rose becomes a crucial part of the book as well. The story centers on it in such a way that readers may take the flower as the key to bind all characters together, weaving yet another beautiful retelling about Beauty and the Beast.

Just like in Beauty, Robin McKinley does not hold back in giving us the story in a very detailed form. I guess this will, in return, help the readers understand the complexity the book offers. Indeed, in comparison to Beauty, Rose Daughter provides a much complicated, darker story than Beauty. Unlike in the other book where magic is used for good, this book shows us how magic can be used for evil as well. Even the Beast’s castle doesn’t project a welcoming feeling to its visitors. While I was reading through the castle’s description, it does look kind of scary and I wouldn’t want to live there in solitude for the rest of my life. It’s only the glasshouse where Beast’s roses are planted that seems to be Beauty’s safe haven.

I find the names of the characters quite peculiar, yet they still do, in fact, suit their personalities. And I’m amazed by how the townspeople become significant in shaping the lives of Beauty and her family. Coming from the city, it is inevitable that people will not be used to a life in country. In Beauty’s family’s case, a lot of effort is made before they begin to appreciate that kind of lifestyle and I’m glad that they embrace it with open arms. They eventually get used to it and become friends with some of the townspeople. It is also through the townspeople that some stories are learnt about magic, sorcerers, and the tale behind the Rose Cottage. As the story progresses, readers will see how tales can change over time by oral tradition as evident in the differences in Mrs. Words-Without-End and Jack Trueword’s versions.

I have to admit, before I began reading this book, I was kind of hoping that Beauty’s sisters would not possess a villainous personality and it was a sigh of relief when they’re not portrayed as that. In fact, I slowly come to admire the sisters’ relationship with one another as they have shown to have a strong bond and sisterly love toward each other. As for Beauty, her passion is portrayed in a form of being a green thumb. She’s not the bookworm Beauty we know from Beauty and her skills for gardening prove that the author incorporates her knowledge of it to the book. Moving on, Beast’s portrayal makes him likable throughout the story. His gentlemanliness, kindness, and sweetness certainly paid off at the end.

For who could ever love a beast? This book vividly defines the deeper meaning behind this worth-pondering question. The twist at the end of the book will definitely surprise the readers that at the end of the day, it will leave them reflecting about the importance in Beauty’s choice which will affect her life in general. Lessons can undoubtedly be learned from this book. For those of you who have read the book, what would you do if you were in Beauty’s shoes? The answer may be easy to some, but I guess the decision will become harder when we are presented with the situation in reality.

To end this post and in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I would like to share one beautiful quote from the book: “Roses are for love. Not silly sweethearts’ love but the love that makes you and keeps you whole, love that gets you through the worst your life’ll give you and that pours out of you when you’re given the best instead…

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Project: Fairy Tale hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader

projectfairytalebutton2Banner created and designed by Alisa @ Picture Me Reading

Tin @ Rabbitin’s review of Beauty convinced me enough to add the book on my reading list and when Alison @ The Cheap Reader announced Project: Fairy Tale, I took this opportunity to choose Beauty and the Beast and immediately grab a copy of Beauty. Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

Beauty coverA strange imprisonment…

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

Robin McKinley’s beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast.

Doesn’t the book cover look amazing? Both the title and the cover illustration project a common theme, giving us an idea of what the story would be all about. I seldom read fairy tale retellings before and I think Beastly was the only retelling of Beauty and the Beast that I had read. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking the book. But in this case, Beauty did not disappoint me.

As the title suggests, Beauty is the main character of the story. She’s actually named Honour, but after having a hard time understanding the meaning of her name as a child, she remarks that she’d rather be Beauty and so, since then, the name sticks. What I noticed from their names is that they are all named after virtues, with her sisters being named as Grace and Hope.

In comparison to the original tale, Beauty stayed true to it, but Robin McKinley adds more characters and gives it a little twist. I’m impressed by the way the author describes the settings, especially the part where she portrays the castle and the scene in the countryside where Beauty and her family reside. Readers will get a glimpse of how the castle looks like and also have a chance to be familiarized with the lifestyle of the countryside people and how differently they live from the city. Moreover, one can also see that they recognize the things that cannot be explained by reason – tales that involve magic and enchantments. I, for one, understand that it is not unusual for those to happen as I also hear childhood stories from my dad that unexplainable things happen in his hometown in the province, as well as from my cousins.

Moving on, the complexity in Beauty’s characterization makes the story more enjoyable to read – bringing depth into it. As ordinary and plain as she may describe herself, I still don’t think of Beauty as that. She holds something more beyond it and I admire her for that. And true enough, as she grows older, she definitely proves to become what she is named for. The interest she’s shown towards books and reading adds to my impression of her as someone who values knowledge more than anything. She prefers reading over socializing. It is known for a fact that the inferiority in the role of women is prominent before wherein their work are limited to childbearing, sewing, and other household chores whereas men are considered as the breadwinner of the family. In Beauty’s case, she becomes the opposite of it. Unlike her sisters who are graceful and ladylike, Beauty, on the other hand, is capable of doing jobs intended for men. She tends her own horse, Greatheart, helps Ger in his work, and dreams of studying in a University. With this said, she unknowingly begins to break the norm and somehow makes a change in the order of the society.

I would also like to point out something I observed while reading this book as well as the original tale. If one would try to notice, the Beast isn’t described in detail. No specific appearance is portrayed or described, just something hideous and ugly; thus, I guess this leads to people having different notions about the Beast, giving him different portrayals based on one’s imagination. However, I come to admire the fact that the Beast’s characterization is likable in terms of his personality. I love the way Beauty and Beast’s friendship slowly develops as time passes.

Add to that, I’m glad the book doesn’t just focus on Beauty and Beast’s relationship. All characters take on a significant role in the story and I can’t help but become invested in each one of them. For one, it’s nice to see that Beauty’s sisters are not the kind I’ve read about from the original tale. It’s surprising to see that they are good and love and treat Beauty well. In short, they’re all worth rooting for to a happy ending.

This enchanting story will definitely pull you right into the fantasy world of Beauty and Beast. I’m so immersed in this book as I devour page after page like I am transported in it, eager to be lost in that world. The book is written in a very-detailed descriptive narration to give readers a vivid picture of the story. It’s like Robin McKinley doesn’t want us to miss out on anything, letting us become witnesses of this wonderful story.

Overall, despite the fact that Beauty is similar to Beaumont’s version and stayed true to it, Robin McKinley is able to keep me interested up until the end. Regardless of the simplicity of the storyline, at the end of the day, Beauty will undoubtedly remind us of our childhood dreams where magic exists and where we become princes and princesses ourselves.