We all know the tale of Sleeping Beauty, the princess who was cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die unless awoken by love’s true kiss. In 2014, the tale we have come to know has been challenged. In Maleficent we are faced with a question what about Maleficent’s side of things? What if she was truly the wronged party? And now in While Beauty Slept we are challenged once again.
The book begins with an elderly woman listening to her granddaughter tell the tale of Sleeping Beauty and how she is sick and tired of hearing the ‘all lived happily ever after’ version of things. The true story wasn’t so romantic and the woman would know since she took care of the real Sleeping Beauty. Her granddaughter asks her to tell her the real story and she relents.
The elderly woman turns out to be Elise, she grew up on a farm with her family. Her father always seemed to hate her and her mother finally tells her why when she is fourteen years old. Her father isn’t her father. Her mother had already had her when they met, she had gotten pregnant while she was a chambermaid in the castle. A few years later, Elise and her family are befallen by the pox. Her mother and two of her brothers don’t survive, but she does. Once recovered she goes to the palace and claims a place working in the household and eventually she becomes the queen’s personal maid.
Queen Lenore is troubled, her and her husband have been trying to have a baby but to no avail. Due to the bareness of the queen, the line of succession is in doubt and the king has to name his brother Prince Bowen his heir. Just before he is named, the queen announces that she is pregnant. She gives birth to a daughter – Rose – and the kingdom seems to be happy. That is until the king’s aunt – Millicent – tries to take a more hands on approach with the baby. The king and queen won’t stand for it and kick her out of the palace. She comes back and places a ‘curse’ on the castle, threatening Rose’s life. A hunt for the woman comes up with nothing and the royal family is left in peace, until Prince Bowen declares war on his brother.
Going into this book, I already knew that this wasn’t going to be the Sleeping Beauty that I grew up with when I was a kid, and I’ll admit that after the awesomeness that was Maleficent I had high hopes for this book. I should have known that the movie couldn’t have been topped. Don’t get me wrong, the book was good, it took away all the magic that was in the original fairy tale and replaced it with ordinary circumstances. But Elise was a very dry character; her only interesting moments are when she falls in love with Marcus – a shoemaker from the village outside the palace – and when she gets married to Dorian. Otherwise she is very dedicated to her duty as the queen’s maid and then as the queen’s lady in waiting.
Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Very well written novel, just wished that some scenes had been cut. I wasn’t an overly huge fan of Marcus’s. I preferred Dorian instead, and the way the ‘sleep’ scene was turned into an epidemic of the pox is a scene that will forever haunt my dreams. *shudder*
Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!