As a kid, I devoured every book in the mythology/folklore/fairy tale section of our school library and public library. I was utterly fascinated that no matter what culture about which you read, you always came back to the same types of instructive or amusing narratives. (Note: yes, I discovered you can actually major in college in this subject. It’s called International Affairs, and I have two degrees in it.) When I discovered a whole world of fictional chapter books on retold fairy tales (think Robin McKinley and the like), I was over the moon. But by far, my favorite was Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.
I have read this book no less than 20 times in my life I’m sure, but in re-reading it for my book club pick this month, it occurred to me that it’s the first time that I have read it post-marriage. I love it just as incredibly as I loved it the first 19 times I read it, for entirely the same reasons. It’s the feeling that you have in greeting an old friend whom you know so well. It might not have held up perfectly well to our scrutiny as adults, but it didn’t make it any less delightful.
How many times do we watch/read/hear the Cinderella story, especially in the western media? Re-told in so many versions, the most recent of which is (amusingly) Disney retelling their own cartoon. We are inspired by the story of characters who overcome all odds, then thumb their noses at the people who kept them there.
But what I love best about Ella Enchanted is that it is NOT a story in which the only strife the character experiences is that placed upon her. Continue reading