Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Review: Lavishly Illustrated with Interactive Elements Edition of Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve

I've read several versions of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale before, from several re-tellings to the version in a fairy tale book I own. But I don't know if I've ever read the original story by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. So when I heard the next lavishly illustrated classic by Minalima was going to be Beauty and the Beast, I had to buy it.It's absolutely gorgeous, and it was a nice read to get ready for the live-action Beauty and the Beast film.

I was surprised, as I read, to find that much of the original Beauty and the Beast tale is different than the Disney version. I don't know why I was surprised because most of Disney's adaptations are rather different than the original tale. Some elements remain intact to the story I grew up knowing, such as Beauty going to stay with the Beast and her love breaking his enchantment. But the elements I loved the most about the story, unfortunately, did not appear in the original tale.

Beauty was kind of a boring character. She didn't have the ferocity and independence that Belle embodies in the Disney film. She kind of just let's things happen instead of being the one to make them happen. She doesn't even love books like Belle, which was super disappointing. The Beast is fine, but the reason he is a beast was drastically different and frustrating. Instead of being vain and being turned into a beast to learn a lesson, he's turned into a beast because he refuses to marry a fairy! And the whole reason Beauty breaks the spell is because another fairy (who is apparently good) made it all happen. She orchestrated the whole thing, which loses the effect that Beauty's love is a deep choice. In addition, we learn that Beauty is also a long lost princess, which takes away from the idea that she's a peasant, or for the most part an ordinary girl, who became a princess.

The rose is only present in that Beauty's only request to her father is to bring her back a rose. It's not an enchanted rose that slowly wilts to doom the Beast. The servants aren't moving objects, instead their monkeys? What?! There is, of course, no Gaston, so their isn't any exterior conflict. The biggest conflict is that Beauty misses her family (who is actually not her family and all of them are terrible people).

It felt like everything I adored about the story I knew were gone. An ordinary girl learning to love a beast, the surprise that someone could love him, and the prince learning not to be conceited. I have to admit I think I like the Disney version better. The first half of the original tale was decent with a lot of wonderful elements, but the latter half was just a disappointment.

The illustrations, however, are gorgeous as ever. I think Minalima did a great job with this adaptation. There are reoccurring golden elements woven throughout. They incorporated roses and thorn patterns throughout as well. The book just seemed to shine with the magic of fairy tales. My only issues was that they clearly used Disney for inspiration with most of the illustrations. The Beast looks pretty similar to the Beast in the animated film instead of matching the descriptions of him in the story. (He has an elephant trunk apparently! Which I want to see that in an illustration!) But I can forgive them because the illustrations of the Beast were absolutely fantastic and my favorite part.

Overall, Minalima did a wonderful job lavishly illustrating the original Beauty and the Beast tale. I've loved all three of their classic adaptations so far because they take their time and really do a great job. I look forward to more adaptations by them, and I will treasure the ones I have so far.

Have you read the original Beauty and the Beast story? What is your favorite version of Beauty and the Beast?

~All images are my own. I bought Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and chose to review it of my own freewill. All opinions are my own. And yes, I did listen to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack while I wrote this review!~

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