Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Robin McKinley’s Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast is effectively written in the first person, allowing the reader to share readily in Beauty’s feelings. The novel is an adaptation or retelling of the 1757 story “Beauty and the Beast” by Madame Le Prince de Beaumont.

Beauty’s given name at her baptism was Honour. At the age of five, however, not understanding the word “honour,” she told her father that she would rather be Beauty. Thus, Beauty is the name by which she is called throughout the story. Her oldest sister, Grace, is beautiful, tall, and blond and has blue eyes. Hope, her other sister, is beautiful, tall, and slender with chestnut-brown hair and large green eyes. Both sisters are kind-hearted and have small, delicate hands and feet. At twelve, Beauty has mousy hair, muddy hazel eyes, is small of stature with big hands and huge feet, and has a skin problem. Beauty is known as “the clever one” and likes to read and study.

Their father, Mr. Huston, is one of the wealthiest merchants in the city. At nineteen, Grace becomes engaged to Robert Tucker, Father’s most promising young sea captain, while Gervain Woodhouse, an iron worker in Father’s shipyard, is in love with Hope. Father’s ships meet with disasters, however, and there is no word about the fate of Robert Tucker. Father soon loses his fortune.

The family is aided by Gervain, who asks for Hope’s hand. He does not like the city and has found a small house with a forge and a shop near his home village, where he will work as a blacksmith. Gervain proposes that the family move with...

(The entire section is 667 words.)