So many of you have recommended Melanie Dickerson's fairy tale retellings to me over the past few years, and I have several of her books on my to-read list. When the price for the e-book version of Dickerson's version of "Beauty and the Beast" dropped recently, I decided to give it a try. And I read the whole thing in only three days, which necessitated a couple of extra battery rechargings for my phone.
So, yes, I definitely enjoyed this book! The Beast, Lord Ranulf le Wyse, reminded me a lot of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, but with a less lurid past. And the Beauty, Annabel, was a sweet blend of curious and patient. She learned a good lesson about the importance of honest, and he learned not to expect others to judge him by his appearances. I liked both of them a great deal, and if I should find this book in paperback at some point, I might just buy a copy. (I infinitely prefer reading real books over battery-dependent e-books, and if I really like a book and know I will want to re-read it in years to come, I want that book on my physical bookshelves.)
I'm reading some Hemingway and Fitzgerald short stories right now too, for the high school lit class I'm teaching our niece, who is in ninth grade. And I know I've said before, here and elsewhere, that while I absolutely love the way both those gentlemen write, I don't always love the stories they tell. I bring this up, because The Merchant's Daughter was exactly the opposite for me -- the story and characters grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go, but Dickerson's writing itself was pedestrian. And that's okay -- I'm certainly no Hemingway or Fitzgerald myself. I would have liked some more subtlety in the emotional changes within both characters, but my taste is not everyone's taste.
If I have one real quibble, it's that Lord le Wyse had an almost historically impossible grasp of God's love and forgiveness, the way that his grace extends to sinners. The story is set in 1352, 165 years before the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and while the parish priest holds the kinds of views I would expect in the pre-Reformation era, le Wyse is impossibly enlightened and Reformed in his understanding of Scriptures. Dickerson talks in her Author's Note at the end about the research she did into Medieval England's judicial system and societal customs -- it's my opinion she would have done well to research Medieval theology as well.
Particularly Good Bits:
Her servant status could almost be a blessing. This thought surprised her. She'd felt abandoned by God, but maybe He had actually been taking care of her by sending her here.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for repeated assaults against a woman's virtue, talk of women tempting men, and some discussion of feeling desire for others. Nothing really risqué, as my mother would say, but also not appropriate for children.
This is my first book read and reviewed for Heidi Pekarek's Adventure of Reading Challenge!