A Retelling Of The Story Of Beauty And The Beast. Robin Mckinley
McKinley's novel-length retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" incorporates no shift in viewpoint, no special perspective (Freudian or whatever), no witty embroidery or extra dimension of any sort. It's simply a filling out of the story, with a few alterations: Beauty's sisters, who have romances of their own, are loving and good, and Beauty herself is misnamed, being plain as a child and only realizing her beauty after coming to love the beast. Most limiting, McKinley doesn't seem to have done any speculating about Beauty's (or anyone's) motivation, but contents herself with providing background detail, elaborating on the descriptions of the enchanted castle, getting the plot from here to there via reasonably diverting sequences of events, etc. But she does accomplish all of this with some success. Those little incidentals detailing how things come to pass do keep the story flowing pleasantly even for readers already acquainted with its outline. If McKinley doesn't bring Beauty and her family to memorable life, she does give them separate personalities, situations to respond to, and a stage on which to interact. And her choice of a tale for such treatment couldn't be more fortunate; it's a natural for girls who have outgrown fairy tales but not the sort of romance that this one embodies.