BOOK REVIEW: While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell
Genre: Fairy-tale, Historical
I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. Those of humble birth suffer their heartbreaks and celebrate their triumphs unnoticed by the bards, leaving no trace in the fables of their time….
And so begins Elise Dalriss’s story
When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a tale about a beautiful princess awakened by a handsome prince, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered – and she is the only one left who knows the truth of what happened so many years ago.
As the memories start to unfold, Elise is plunged back in to the magnificent world behind the opulent palace walls. Fleeing a hardscrabble existence and personal tragedy, she builds a new life for herself as a servant to the royal family and quickly rises within the castle hierarchy. As Elise proves herself a loyal confidante, she is drawn into the lives of an extraordinary cast of women: a beautiful queen who wakes each morning with tears on her pillow, an elderly spinster who in heartache shuts herself away, a princess who yearns to be free, and the ambitious and frightening sister who cannot accept the fact that she will never rule. Elise has guarded their secrets – and her own – for a lifetime. While Beauty Slept is her story.
Fairytales retold are an all-time favorite genre of mine. There have been so, so many YA books in the genre, but While Beauty Slept is the first I’ve found that seems specifically geared towards a more mature crowd (not bodice-rippers or anything, y’all, just a higher reading level than one would find in a YA novel). It takes a much more realistic approach, assuming that most fairy tales stem from an actual event that is elaborated upon as it is retold through generations.
I thought it really was a unique approach, and the story was appropriately relevant to it’s older audience. Emotions of very real-feeling people mingle with political intrigue to create a twisting, strange story that feels real and fairy-tale-ish all at the same time. Sorry, I know that’s not a real word, but it’s all good, right? While Beauty Slept seemed to me to be more in keeping with the very first, morbid fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm Brothers. It definitely is not the perfect ending of a Disney movie, but it’s a good story, and well worth reading.
If you have a penchant for the old fairy-tales, definitely give this book a read!
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars