Dear, Internet. I have a confession. Two, actually. The first is that I’m heartily ashamed that it’s taken me so long to read Ella Enchanted. Well. Not really ashamed. But I am disappointed that I didn’t get to experience this book when I was younger, because I would have latched onto it like a monkey latches onto the last banana on the banana tree POOR HUNGRY MONKEY.
My second confession is way more embarrassing but I’m going to share it anyway because WHY NOT. As I read this book, I was enjoying the hell out of it, but I got to a certain point and thought, “Hmm, this is starting to get really similar to Cinderella…what’s that about?” and then, about a chapter from the end, I realized it was really similar to Cinderella because this book is A RETELLING OF CINDERELLA.
I almost didn’t share that because it makes me sound really dumb but then I remembered that there’s plenty of evidence of me being dumb all over the internet (not even counting Facebook), so why not?
Anyway, Ella Enchanted, as I mentioned, is Gail Carson Levine’s (Newbery Award winning) take on Cinderella and I have to say, I much prefer her version. Take everything you hated about the Anne Hathaway movie (did you hate it? I never saw it but I remember people hating it) and shove it out of your brain, because this book is just A ROLLICKING GOOD TIME, full of magic and fairies and trolls and giants and a centaur named Apple. COME ON.
Ella is the daughter of a terrible man and a really awesome woman. Her mother unfortunately dies early on in the novel, leaving her father open to marry the most awful woman he can find, a woman who comes with two awful daughters (though I found Olive to be strangely hilarious). The cleverer of the daughters soon uncovers Ella’s curse and so sets out to make her life as difficult as she possibly can.
For you see, when Ella was born, a well-meaning but not-so-clever fairy named Lucinda gave her what was supposed to be a gift, the gift of obedience. I’m sure there are many parents out there who have wished this for their children more than once, but you see, Ella literally can’t disobey if someone gives her a direct order, whether that order is to jump on one foot or to jump off of the roof. So you can see why this might be problematic.
Ella is a delight, a heroine who doesn’t wait around for saving, instead embarking upon a grand journey of her own, and her suitor, Char (get it…LIKE CHARMING) adores her for all the things that make her unique, her wit, her bravery, her thirst for knowledge. Pick this one up for a quick, fun read and, even better, give it to the kids in your life. And maybe explain the thing about Cinderella beforehand.