Other Lemonade and Lit posts: Introduction, Week One: Booked, Week Two: Booked Discussion, Week Three: Beauty, Week Four: Sexuality in Booked, Week Five: Beauty Discussion, Week Six: The Last Thing I Remember, Week Seven: Klavan Discussion.
Lemonade and Lit:
An Adult-Teen Read Along, Week 3
This post is a little late due to some internet problems I’ve had this weekend (sorry!), but I’m still happy to be able to post Gina Dalfonzo’s introduction to our second book of our summer Adult-Teen Read Along. I hope you guys will forgive me if I postpone our lemonade recipe until next weekend. Otherwise, Enjoy!
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley.
Robin McKinley is a popular and award-winning fantasy author. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast was her first novel, published in 1978. It also happens to be one of my favorite novels. McKinley skillfully weaves new and fresh elements into an old and beloved story.
That story has been retold over and over again, in literature, theater, movies, and TV. Just in recent years, it’s been made into a TV series on the CW; adapted by Christian YA novelist Melanie Dickerson (The Merchant’s Daughter); and used as a storyline on ABC’s Once Upon a Time. It’s also reflected in a host of other stories, such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Nutcracker, Cyrano de Bergerac, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Clearly, there’s something about the idea of the beautiful girl and the ugly beast that strikes a chord in our imaginations. Perhaps in a world too often distracted by appearances, this story in which appearances truly don’t matter gives us all a little hope.
1. Names play an important role in the story. McKinley uses them to simultaneously pay homage to the original fairytale, and to provide her own twist on it. What significance does the name “Beauty” end up having in this version?
2. This version of the story makes Beauty a voracious reader, much as the Disney film would do 13 years later. The story in Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book also mentions that Beauty likes to read. Why might Beauty be presented as a book-loving heroine? What does this add to the story?
3. Most versions of the story portray Beauty’s sisters as selfish, greedy, and unkind. McKinley takes an entirely different route. Why do you think she might have done this, and how does that choice affect the story?
And be sure to leave us a few of your thoughts in the comments! We look forward to discussing the book after the 4th, and we’d love to include your comments or questions!