Well, I made it back into the land of wifi safely, and returned to find a couple more followers and likes on posts. Thanks, y’all! I appreciate it greatly. Now, on to business; shortly before the trip, I discovered Gail Carson Levine and therefore ended up reading Ella while I was away. Yes, I’m aware that I’m quite a few years behind the curve on this one, but still, I loved it. Her writing style, her world-building, her romance…*sigh*. To borrow a phrase from my Italian-spouting friend, belissima!
The plot revolves around the daughter of a wealthy merchant who was cursed by a ditzy fairy at birth. Her curse? To be completely obedient. The problem? Ella is a rebel. The bigger problem? It doesn’t matter who gives the orders (whether it be an ogre or a stepmother or stepsister or a handsome prince), she has to follow them. Regardless of the cost.
First of all, I really like Levine’s voice and style. I actually read Fairest (one of her later books) first, and the voice was consistently great through both books. Very relatable, funny, and altogether quite charming. Also, she immerses you in the world she’s put together; her descriptions are so natural and interesting that they pull you into the story so deeply you don’t even notice the break in the action. I would love to be able to steal that style and that level of writing ease.
As for the characters, again, they were great. You feel so sympathetic for Ella’s plight. I think everyone has had some situation where they had no choice, but to do as they were told, whether they like it or not–a job, jury duty, eating your vegetables. Whatever. We all know what it’s like in moderation, but having to do it all the time? With every order, no matter how ridiculous? *shudders* I also loved Charmont. Typically, in this type of book, the heroes can be rather flat and supremely unattractive, but Prince Charmont was very sweet, quite intelligent, and likeable (If a little too perfect for the average teenage boy. But I intend to ignore that bit and hold onto the fantasy of such a creature for a while.) And, on a side note, his name is French for “Charming.” Therefore, Prince Charming has made his way into this Cinderella adaption. Sneaky, sneaky, Levine…
The plot was also good. Since this was in essence a retelling of a classic, you could somewhat safely predict a happily ever after, but until the end, you weren’t entirely sure how it would go down. Throughout the plot, there were only a few points that I was iffy about, one being that Ella didn’t seem inclined to even try to elude her step-family’s orders as she did earlier in the book, and two, the whole reason for Ella’s father losing his fortune. I have some difficulty believing that a merchant as rich and influential as he apparently was would be so foolhardy as to get himself in that sort of trouble. Still, neither point was hugely distracting, and the end was quite satisfying, so they’re sort of moot points. All in all, good story. Great story, in fact.