At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.
One of my friends has been on a mega fairy tale kick lately, and she sent Ella Enchanted my way last week when it was on sale. I think I read this way back when I was young, but I didn’t remember this story at all.
Cinderella has never been my favorite fairy tale–maybe it’s just not dark enough? You know I like a good, dark villain (like Maleficent). Ella Enchanted kicks up the classic story up a notch. It combines Sleeping Beauty‘s fairy gift with Ella’s obedience to show us that it isn’t always just the thought that counts.
After getting stuck this past week, it was nice to go back to some kidlit and relax my brain a bit. Ella Enchanted is such a sweet story–an easy read for an adult, but there are definitely some deep themes here: friendship, honesty, secrets, manners, even learning foreign languages. Fairy tales were not only written for children, after all. It isn’t a new book by any means, but if you have kids (or even if you don’t), for sure pick it up from your library or book store for your next bedtime rotation.