I love Beauty and the Beast. It has been my favorite Disney movie since it came out in 1991 (God, I am old). Robin Mckinley’s Beauty has had a place on my favorites shelf for almost the same amount of time. I have read it at least once a year since I was twelve years old. There is also a Mercer Mayer picture book of Beauty and the Beast with illustrations that I am still obsessed with. Any version of Beauty and the Beast is going to get my attention.
I also love Jennifer Donnelly. Revolution is one of my favorite books of all time and I am constantly recommending it. I have read everything that she has published (I am pretty confident about saying that) and have been consistently impressed with her writing. It just works for me.
These two things together and the internal hype that they caused is probably what lead me to be disappointed with this book. This is a retelling of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Well, not really a retelling. Same characters and setting but it takes a sharp turn in the narrative.
I didn’t think the in medias res aspect of the novel worked. The book starts the morning after Belle runs away after getting yelled at by the Beast for being in the West Wing. The author assumes that everyone knows what is going on. And maybe they do. But I needed more time to get to know THIS Belle and starting in the middle of things made me feel as if
Beast was almost completely overlooked. While his plight was a lynchpin of the new plot, Beast himself was almost completely absent from the narrative. Since the entire premise of Beauty and the Beast is that over a year of having dinner with the Beast Belle starts to see the inner person and fall in love with that. Belle cannot fall in love convincingly is she is never with the Beast. I don’t care how much the objects in the castle talk him up it is not going to happen
I never connected with any of the characters. Maybe because this is a known story the author never felt the need to describe or develop them the way that they normally are. I wanted more depth to this book. I wanted to come away from this book feeling as if I had a deeper appreciation of the characters and the story. Maybe it was the choice of the third person that caused some of the problems? I think that first person would have gotten us much closer to the heart of who Belle was and if it had been alternated with Beast’s POV the intimacy of that perspective would have helped with the distance that I felt from him.
This isn’t a terrible book. Especially if you haven’t worked yourself up into a ball of excitement like I did. The writing is still decent and it is a unique take on the story. My biggest gripe is that I should have lost my mind over my love for this book and I didn’t. Sad trombones.
An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.
But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.
This deluxe hardcover novel expands upon the beautiful story and world seen in the new Walt Disney Studios' film, Beauty and the Beast.