This was a sweet retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a French-speaking coastal town. What sets this version apart from other B&TB versions that I’ve read is the musings on beauty and ugliness from Belle, who believes that she is not beautiful. Her two sisters are Beauties, with a capital ‘B’, the kind of mythic beauty like Venus or Helen of Troy.
Disney-fed fans of Beauty and the Beast may not recognize the humbler origins of this story. The name ‘Belle’ may be one of a few similarities to the watered-down version. Belle’s father is a merchant whose ships get lost in a storm. Consequentially, they must all move to the country and start over.
Belle’s sisters are relatively equal, each having their strengths of personality and their weaknesses. Dokey humanizes Celeste and April in this version and we come to care about all three girls struggles with love and enduring the shift from city life to country life.
One charming element that sets this story apart is the Heartwood Tree, a tree that legend says was formed from the blood and bones of a tragedy. Want to find out more? Check the book out and read it for yourself, then come back and let me know what you think of it.