Beauties and Beasts
My fascination with Beauty and the Beast began many years ago – when my age was still measured in single digits - and I remember sitting in front of our black and white TV (groan) and watching in amazement as the story of La belle et le Bête unfolded in French, with English subtitles. Thinking back now, it was so awful, but at the time I was absolutely captivated. After that, I started reading as many fairy tales as I could get my hands on, courtesy of a very helpful librarian, and I have never looked back. But, for all my reading, Beauty and the Beast remains my favorite.
It never ceases to amaze me how many different versions of one story there can be. The original tale was by French writer Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740 and the first English version was written in 1757. Since then the various books, TV shows and movies are almost too numerous to mention. Did you know Susan Sarandon was in a film version for Shelley Duval’s ‘Faerie Tale Theatre’? (This video series is wonderful to watch if you can find it anywhere.) Anyone remember the TV series that ran from 1987 – 1989 starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman? It’s worth watching just for the 80’s hairstyles and costumes. Then we have every little girl’s favorite – the Disney version - which came to theatres in 1991, and which remains the go-to version for most people. Now we have Beastly, which arrived in theatres just a few weeks ago. Seen it yet?
Of course as much as I enjoy the movie versions, I still prefer to get my B & B fix from a book. The only problem is deciding which written interpretation I want to read at the time. ‘Valiant: a modern tale of faerie’, by Holly Black is definitely a little different, and the beast isn’t quite what you are expecting, but then again, Beauty is a modern day run away. Then there’s ‘Beast’, by Donna Jo Napoli - this one is written from the Beast’s point of view. We have’ The Fire Rose’ by Mercedes Lackey, part of her Elementals series. In this one, there is an orphaned and penniless Beauty – Rose in this case – with lots of magic involved and even a touch of lycanthropy. How about ‘Ice’ by Sara Beth Durst? I just finished reading that one a short while ago and it was definitely fun to read, although the descriptions of the arctic cold made me feel a bit chilly!
Then we come to my personal favorite, ‘Beauty: A retelling of Beauty and the Beast’ by Robin McKinley. This version is probably one that is closest to the original and I love every minute of it. My copy is an old hardcover that I found on the book sale cart at the library, and it is very well loved. If the truth be told, I probably read it every year. There is just something about a girl who is willing to give up everything to help save her family and the reward for her selflessness is ‘Happily Ever After’. What’s not to love about that? There are so many more I can’t remember them all.
Oh and of course, we mustn’t forget ‘Beastly’ by Alex Flinn. What with all the hype and publicity for the new movie, I hope some of you went out and read the book it was based on. You didn’t? Well if you would like to hop over to The Paperback Princesses at www.allaboutyabooks.blogspot.com you can enter our little giveaway to win a movie-tie-in copy of ‘Beastly’.