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What's the story?
When Ella was an hour old, the fairy Lucinda "blessed" her with obedience. Whenever Ella is told to do something, she must do it, including promising never to reveal her terrible secret. After her mother dies, Ella is sent to finishing school with her nasty stepsisters, Hattie and Olive. Hattie soon discovers the curse and takes advantage of Ella. Running away, Ella finds Lucinda and begs her to lift the curse, but the fairy refuses. Ella must go home and resign herself to a life of drudgery. Her friend, Prince Charmont, is in love with her, but Ella knows she can never marry him -- her curse would put him in grave danger. When he commands her to marry him, she struggles not to obey, cries out "No"-and breaks the curse! At last the liberated Ella and her beloved prince can truly live happily ever after.
Is it any good?
ELLA ENCHANTED is a rich and imaginative retelling of the Cinderella story as a young adult novel. At last readers get a reasonable explanation for Cinderella's meek behavior. Poor Ella isn't a doormat; she is literally cursed with obedience. But she is a strong and intelligent role model -- instead of taking her misfortune sitting down, she marches off to rid herself of the troublesome curse.
Learning her worries and dreams gives readers a reason to root for her. Prince Charmant becomes more than a name as we read the letters he and Ella write to each other. A cast of fantastic and familiar fairy-tale figures includes the foolish fairy who bestows gifts nobody wants, a wise fairy godmother who refuses to use magic for anything important, and a gnome toddler with a baby beard. Author Gail Carson Levine casts a spell and manages to remake a classic tale into something completely new.
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