Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1998 Honor - Ella Enchanted


I saw the movie made of this fine Newbery-recognized book several years ago. At the time I was unaware that it was a book, much less a Newbery book, until my daughter told me, who was very knowlegeable about such things. That intrigued me, and I've sort of had it in the back of my mind to read it and see how it compared next to the movie. The question, as it always is, is how do you potray the workings of the mind of the character to an audience who can only see what is played out in fron of them? Add to it that this book is told in the first person, and you will see how hard that might be.

Ella has been enchanted since the day she was born by a mischevous fairy who gave her the "gift" of obedience. So everything that Ella is told to do, she must obey. But obey orders not only from her parents, but anyone else also. Thankfully, she is also under the compulsion to not tell anyone about her gift, lest she let it slip and let some random person have power over her. Meanwhile Ella and her confidant, the cook are trying to think up ways to break the spell.

The major conflict is set up early in the book- the mother dies, the rather cold-hearted father remarries, and one of her boorish stepsisters realizes Ella's little problem and takes advantage of it.

Yes, this is a Cinderella tale, but with enough plot turns and extras to make it an interesting read.

Ella is forced to do some unpleasant things, and because we see into her thoughts, the reader can understand her anquish and robot-like need to comply with orders. Most of what I remember from the movie is Anne Hathaway getting a blank, dumb look on her face as she quickly complies with any orders, so we know she isn't doing it on her own volition. I understand that, but it shows me that, indeed, "The book is better."

In spite of Ella's handicap of obedience, she is a strong female character, and I would recommemd it to girls looking for that sort of heroine.

I bought this book at Goodwill for $1.49.


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