Author: Elizabeth Blackwell
Publisher: Putnam / Amy Einhorn
Publication Date: February 20, 2014
Number of Pages: 421
How I Got It: from publisher
PR Release: Elizabeth Blackwell's While Beauty Slept revisits the Sleeping Beauty story, spinning a dark and compelling tale of palace intrigue, black magic, and treachery. Putting her own twist on the childhood classic, Blackwell crafts a deeply textured story of power and empowerment, creating an unforgettable heroine whose own journey to wisdom plays out against heartache, love and betrayal. "I am not the sort of person about whom strories are told." And so begins Elise Dalriss's story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel's tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess wo slumbered--and she is the only one left who know what actually happened so many years ago. Told with many years' hindsight by the now elderly Elise, While Beauty Slept has the narrative power of a stroy that has been passed down fo centuries but is now finally told with the truth.
My review: I was so excited to read this book. Bracing for the second snowstorm in two weeks, I stocked up on supplies and we all planned on just hunkering down at home. I snuggled up and read the best retelling of Sleeping Beauty I could ever imagine. I'm not a fan of sweeping, sighing romances and too often fairy tale retellings are too sappy for me. The main character of While Beauty Slept is not the princess but instead a village girl who leaves her childhood farm to work in the castle. Beginning as a chambermaid and rising through the castle caste system to become the closest person to the royal family, Elise Dalriss is constantly questioning everyone's motives. This story has everything a great fairy tale should have: a castle, doting townspeople, and a loving king and queen, but also: twin sisters practicing herbal medicine and dark arts, womanizing knights, and betrayals. I compare this book to Mists of Avalon with an upstairs/downstairs theme because Elise is a servant but in direct contact with the royal family. 55 years ago, Disney adapted Grimm's Sleeping Beauty for the big screen and this year Maleficent releases in May. Blackwell's timing for this release is perfect. I read this book in paperback version and I suggest reading it in the same format if possible because this book begs you to cuddle up with it at night for a grown up bedtime story.
** I received this book in exchange for an honest review **