Review: The Beauty and the Beast

Title: The Beauty and the Beast
Author: Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Published: 1740
Page Count: 204
Rating: 3/5

There once was a wealthy merchant man with six children. Three sons and three daughters. All of his daughters are beautiful but the youngest, Beauty, is the most beautiful of all. When the merchant loses his wealth, him and his children go to live in a farmhouse. Some time later, the merchant hears that one of his ships arrived back at the port and he sets out to check on it. His daughters ask for dresses and jewels and his sons ask for weapons to hunt with. But his youngest daughter, Beauty, asks for a single rose.

When the merchant arrives at the port he learns that his ship was taken to pay his debts. He gets lost on his way home due to a storm and finds a palace to stay in. He is invited in by an unknown figure and sees that the table is set with food and drink and he accepts the gifts and stays the night there. When the merchant is to leave in the morning, he sees a rose garden and finds one for his daughter Beauty, when a “Beast” comes out and accuses him of stealing and tells him the price is his death. After begging for his life, the Beast allows the merchant to take the rose to his daughter if the merchant will return or send one of his daughters to return. He accepts and the Beast sends him home with with wonderful gifts. After he is home, and tells his family of the Beast, Beauty agrees to go.

Beauty is now mistress of the castle and the Beast is her servant. She receives wonderful clothing and food and they enjoy conversations together. Every night at dinner, the Beast asks Beauty to marry him and she refuses him every time. Beauty begins to have dreams of a prince, who asks her why she refuses the Beast. She says she only loves him as a friend.

Beauty becomes homesick and the Beast allows her to go home only if she will return in one week. The Beast gives her a mirror and a ring before she sets off on her journey. The mirror will show her everything that is happening at the castle and if she turns the ring on her finger three times she will be returned to the castle in an instant. Her sisters beg her to stay and Beauty agrees but begins to feel guilty for lying to the Beast. She uses the mirror to see the Beast and finds him half-dead from the heartbreak. Beauty immediately rushes to his side by turning the ring three times. When Beauty arrives she tells him that she loves him and begins to cry. When her turns touch him, he transforms back into the prince from her dreams. The Beast tells her of the curse that a fairy turned him into a Beast because he would not provide shelter for her and the only way to break the curse was by finding true love. Beauty and the Beast marry and live happily ever after.

When I started reading this book, I knew it was not going to be like the Disney version. This is the original story that was published in 1740. I really enjoyed the first five chapters but after that I lost interest. Starting at chapter six is the story of the Beast. The writing was harder to read and essentially I just lost interest in the story. I was hoping that the original Beauty and the Beast would still have the characters of Lumiere or Cogsworth. Those characters are what I love so much about the Disney version. Also this edition of the book with the interactive elements makes the reading a lot of fun. The illustrations are gorgeous and while I may not have loved the entire story, I’m glad to have this copy on my shelves. I’m also glad that I’ve read the original and can say that if I were to read it again, I would just read the first half.

3 thoughts on “Review: The Beauty and the Beast

  1. It’s always interesting to pick up an older book like that one and see how storytelling was different back then. My wife read an abridged version of this in preparation for the Beauty and the Beast live action remake. The original story is interesting, and it was kind of neat how they tried to work in some of those elements into the remake. On the whole, though, I’d say that the animated classic is, by far, the best telling of Beauty and the Beast. And a big part of that is, as you said, because of Cogsworth and Lumiere.

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