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Ella Enchanted (1998)

Ella Enchanted (1998)
4.34 of 5 Votes: 14
0590920685 (ISBN13: 9780590920681)
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Ella Enchanted (1998)
Ella Enchanted (1998)

About book: Feminists often denounce traditional fairy tales because they perpetuate the ideals of a patriarchal society by encouraging girls to behave like proper princesses and wait for charming princes to take charge and save the day. In response to these traditional fairy tales, many authors have tried to reclaim the realm of fairy tales for girls. These retellings feature active protagonists who are not scared of taking charge and do not need princes to save them. One example of this new fairy tale genre is the 1998 children’s novel "Ella Enchanted" by Gail Carson Levine, which takes an untraditional approach to retelling the story of Cinderella. The novel addresses several specific feminist issues, specifically negotiating and fighting the burden of obedience, the importance of female friendships and, of course, learning to save yourself.The story is set in an imaginary, medieval-esque kingdom called Frell. A roaming fairy named Lucinda gives Ella the gift/curse of obedience at Ella’s birth. As a result, Ella has to do everything she is told, no matter what harm it might cause to herself or others. (In the novel, the severity of Ella’s curse in constantly underscored with passages explaining how little control Ella has over her own life: “If someone told me to hop on one foot for a day and a half, I’d have to do it. And hopping on one foot wasn’t the worst order I could be given. If you commanded me to cut off my own head, I’d have to do it.") As the plot moves forward Ella is compelled to leave home to try and find Lucinda and ask her to lift the curse. Along the way she also falls in love with Prince Char. For varying reasons, depending on the version, Lucinda refuses to lift the curse. Further difficulties arise as Ella continues her quest.That's the main body of the story. The Cinderella element is relevant mainly to the last quarter of the novel where actual elements from that story (the slipper, the ball) appear in the story, although the evil step-sisters and fairy godmother are present throughout the narrative. There are several reasons that I love this novel and recommend it to everyone. The first is that it's an imaginative retelling of Cinderella which makes the story exciting for readers familiar with the original version without making it too abtruse for readers who have never heard of Cinderella. Also, the book is full of great role models for girls. All of the female characters are strong, self-aware women--things seen far too rarely in the fairy tale genre. The novel is narrated in Ella's voice. This makes it easy to see how strong Ella is as a character (especially at the end of the novel). The other great thing about this book is that it all seems authentic, never over the top or under-written. In addition to creating immensely likable main characters, Levine creates a compelling world within the pages of "Ella Enchanted" vivid with details ranging from Elvish and Gnomish languages to customs at a Giant's wedding. The story is an immensely entertaining page-turner that will (even better) leave readers feeling satisfied when they reach the final scene where Levine ties everything together, artfully blending empowerment with a happy-ever-after ending fit for a traditional fairy tale. Excerpted from a scholarly article I wrote about Ella Enchanted as a book and movie. You can read the full article here:

Unicorns. Fairies. Castles. Most of all, Prince Charming.Ella Enchanted made me want to revert back to being a little girl, where it's easy to believe that happily ever afters do exist. And yes, it reminded me that, despite my bitter self now, I at one point, believed in happily ever afters.Who doesn't know Ella? I sure caught the craze when this was a movie with Anne Hathaway as Ella. The movie was spectacular, and the book was just as good.Ella was bestowed the gift of obedience. Well, to the fairy who dared to give it, it was a gift. But to the other end who received it, it was definitely a curse. Ella made me laugh. But she also made my heart break. I could not imagine myself doing everything someone ordered me to do. Even the simple task of following parents seemed Herculean, when your heart had no desire to do it. But Ella had to do every blasted thing. Whether, she liked it or not, she had to obey. She could try delaying tactics, but in the end, the curse will always get the best of her.But despite the crazed obedience, Ella was still a girl. Charming. Humorous. Intellectual. Unselfish. Patient. And courageous. And a prince could not help but notice her.Prince Char, after having friendship with Ella, proposes. But Ella could not risk being the Prince's downfall. Once enemies knew of her affliction, one could not help but to take advantage. So Ella tricked the prince into thinking she had married another.But true love could not be stopped.As the town was to hold series of balls, where rumor has it, the prince would choose a bride, Ella could not help but rush off, and maybe see the prince once more. She poses as Lela, and again, she has caught the eye of the prince.But just as Cinderella did, Ella had to leave, as soon as the prince found her true identity.Ella could not even consider harming the prince, despite all the love she had in her heart for him. The prince orders her to marry him, but with the thought of his imminent danger, she manages to fight of the curse with an extreme amount of disobedience. Well, of course, now that she's no threat to the prince anymore, evidently, they could now have their happily ever after.This book makes me want to believe in happily ever afters once more. Maybe I will, but I would rather wait for it to come, and see for myself ♥
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Ruchama Feuerman
One of the reviewers on GR said, (sort of): "Don't look for hidden meaning or depth,just read it for what it is, a cute fairy tale." But re-reading this book, what I loved most were the witty letters exchanged between Ella and Prince Char, which captured the excitement and thrill of an old-fashioned courtship, the peeling off of mental layers, the wonderful exchange of inquiring (and kind) minds. And when that kiss finally comes, it's obvious that it celebrates this wonderful intimacy between them, instead of a kiss used to create intimacy -- what we usually get in our modern times. Are there any adult equivalent novels, minus the ogres and fairies? Maybe Jane Eyre.
Cait Grace
I was nervous to read this because it's like everyone's Childhood Favourite Book. GAH! No pressure! I'm 21. So maybe a little over the age range? But I always believe a good book can be appreciated by ANYONE. And I'm right! This is a good book and I had a great time...but I don't call it a favourite. I'm sure I would've been absolutely cuddling it when I was 12.I really liked the 2nd half. The first half? Not so much. I found it a little telling-ish and not showing-ish. That bugs me. The style isn't my favourite (even though it's 1st person) and I was just SO FRUSTRATED with all the bullying Ella went through. But hellooooo that is the point of the story. I'm not marking it lower for me being frustrated! I'm just saying how I felt. I also felt old and kind of detatched and the passages where they spoke in gobbly-gook in ogre language just had me wondering if the author slapped the keyboard for the phrases or if there was rhyme and reason. (I'm joking. I'm sure there was actually a pattern behind that language. I just...didn't see it.)It's a fairy-tale retelling of CinderELLA. Obviously. The beginning feels quite different, but by the end, we roll in the pumpkin and the prince (whose name is "Charm" I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, AUTHOR. I DO). This part was all a bit predictable, but, 'scuse me, but I got all into the smushy romance and shipped Charm and Ella very hard. THEY WERE SO CUTE AND DOOMED FOR SADNESS AND FAILURE. I always get onboard with a doomed couple. :')I also felt the antagonist was wrapped up very very easily. There was barely a climax! I realise it's a fairy tale but COME ON. No ogre attack? not, I don't know...a stepsister setting Ella's dress on fire or something? (Gawsh, Cait, your psychopath is showing.) But everything seemed to wither into this perfect bow and there was literally nothing stopping the happily ever after. (view spoiler)[ Like even the psychotic fairy godmother was just like "omigosh I have been doing bad things! I'll stop! I'll stop!" and she wasn't even secretly Maleficent-like or anything. And I was SUPER disappointed in Mandy. She did nothing. Basically NOTHING the whole book except be a surrogate mother. If you were a fairy with the ability to do magic, don't you think you'd at least work for yourself instead of being a kitchen slave???. (hide spoiler)]
Kat Kennedy
Ella Enchanted is like a koala. A big, soft, cute koala.And if you mess with it, it'll use it's big, sharp, not-so-cute claws to tear your face off.Seriously.It's just a cute little fairy tale for teenage girls about a silly little world. Accept it for what it is. Leave it at that. Don't delve any futher. Don't consider it from a feminine perspective, don't rationalize it from a historical stand-point, don't try to analyze is for hidden metaphors or literary value.Just read, rinse, repeat and move on. do NOT want a face full of this!ETA: I have just seen the movie for Ella Enchanted. Trust Disney to f*#$ everything up! Cary Elwis, what have they done to you!
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