Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review and Giveaway: While Beauty Slept

While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Publication Date: 11/04/2014 (Reprint)
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Fairy-Tale
Pages: 464
ISBN-10: 0425273849
ISBN-13: 978-0425273845

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Elizabeth Blackwell on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, While Beauty Slept, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.


“Elizabeth Blackwell is a story-telling genius. Her mesmerizing writing weaves a spell that will enchant you. While Beauty Slept breathes new life into the fairytale genre with a historical twist that will take your breath away.” —Meg Cabot, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries and Heather Wells mystery series

I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. Those of humble birth suffer their heartbreaks and celebrate their triumphs unnoticed by the bards, leaving no trace in the fables of their time…
And so begins Elise Dalriss’s story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel’s tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered—and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago.
As the memories start to unfold, Elise is plunged back into the magnificent world behind the palace walls she left behind more than a half century ago, a labyrinth where the secrets of her real father and the mysterious fate of her mother connect to an inconceivable evil. Elise has guarded these secrets for a lifetime. As only Elise understands all too well, the truth is no fairy tale.


While Beauty Slept has been touted as a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty fairy-tale. It is written by Elizabeth Blackwell and though there are elements of the original tale, this story is so much more than your average re-telling. It has substance, emotion and brings back the original Grimm's fairy-tale feel. It does not rely on a happy ending and is more believable and realistic than the Disney classics most of us grew up with. A wonderfully, refreshing story that will have readers more interested in the maid than the princess!

What I liked:

Elizabeth Blackwell tells the Sleeping Beauty yarn with a totally different perspective. Elise Darliss is a maid in the king's household. She is devoted to the royal family and eventually becomes the companion to the sleeping princess, but her story is anything but a happily-ever-after tale. This book is dark and edgy. There is everything from witchery to betrayal and the secrets abound. Blackwell has taken the framework of the classic tale and turned it on it's head. I don't even think "re-telling" is the word I would use to describe it. It is more like a re-imagining. It takes the essential details but transforms them into a totally different story. In a few words, I loved it.

Blackwell is so expressive. Her details of medieval life were dramatic and stark. She didn't shy away from the uncomfortable details of life on a farm, or life in the castle. There was a definite distinction between those who worked in the castle and those who lived in the castle, but Elise's interactions with the royal family were poignant and felt very realistic. There was back-biting and broken promises and everything you would imagine going on in a royal court, as well as, emotional moments that were as beautiful as they were unexpected. 

I felt like this was a story about a young woman who was determined to make something of herself. To live a life worth living despite whether or not she got her happy ending. I think we as readers often believe every fairy-tale had a happy ending. Have you read the original Grimm version of the fairy-tales we know and love? They were hardly tales of perfect romance and sappy heroines. They were dark and dangerous in their time and I think Blackwell conveys that same urgency and direness that the Grimm brothers made famous. Just an excellent book in every way.

Bottom Line:

The publishing industry, as well as, television and movies have been inundated with such an influx of fairy-tale retelling and stories that twist the fabric of the original stories so much they are hardly recognizable. While Beauty Slept is very different. It boils it all down to a coming of age story of a young girl who wanted a better future. But what she found was heart-breakingly real. I loved it from start to finish and you will too!

While Beauty Slept is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Blackwell is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street JournalLadies’ Home JournalParenting, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 18th.

1. Please leave a comment. What's your favorite fairy-tale and why?

2. Please fill out the FORM.


Charlotte said...

I have been thinking about your question and I have decided that I really do not have a favorite one. They were all good to have someone read them to me growing up.

Nancy Luebke said...

I'm torn between Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. They both have happy ever after endings which I like.


Probably Sleeping Beauty, because I like the Seven Dwarfs.

Amy C said...

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite.

bigreadersite said...

I have been meaning to read this book for a while.

holdenj said...

One of my favorites is Snow White and Rose Red. Thanks for the info and great review, this looks really good!

lag123 said...

Cinderella. I love the rags to riches theme and the happy ever after.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Kimberly said...

Cinderella...I always loved the idea of being swept away by prince charming and becoming a princess! :)

Karen B said...

Cinderella. What little girl back in the 40s didn't dream of a prince and glass slippers!

traveler said...

Cinderella. Lovely and thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Debbie K said...

Beauty and the Beast probably...because who doesn't love the thought of true love being able to transform a person?

Marcy x said...

i did not read fairy tales as a child, but i did read myths and legends. the NOrse Myths were my favorite - Thor Among the Giants, Beowolf, The Black Swan were some of my favorites. they were all pretty dark because the heros had to make moral decisions and these decisions would usually affect lots of people not just their own happiness

Bonnie said...

I loved Cinderella. I thought I could empathize with her being a middle child. :)

Chrisbails said...

I am a girly girl and for sure is Cinderella. I believe that every girl deserves her own Prince.

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite fairy tale has always been Sleeping Beauty, because he has to wake her up by kissing her. I think that is so sweet. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Texas Book Lover said...

I love Beauty and the Beast, I love theme of loving someone for more than their outside beauty theme!

KAS said...

Hello, my name is Kara, and I am a new subscriber to the blog...I'm no big fan of fairy tales, but if forced to choose, I'd pick Cinderella. The fallen nobility motif is appealing to me on some level; also, I like that it ends with vindication of an inner truth. Thanks for what looks like a delightful blog, including this feature and giveaway! Cheers, Kara S

Ericka Cooper said...

My favorite fairy tales are the original ones and retold ones that keep to the darkness in the original stories. I particularly like Beauty and the Beast, but I like the monsters lying in wait to devour and destroy the innocents and not so innocent. Some of it is such a metaphor for the real world, but it also works as a metaphor for mental and physical health. Anyone who has been there will know immediately whereof I speak.

bn100 said...

Cinderella for the singing

jmcgaugh said...

I've always loved Beauty and the Beast, with it's them of loving someone for who they are, not what they look like.