Excerpt: ‘That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift. When I cried inconsolably through my first hour of life, my tears were her inspiration. Shaking her head sympathetically at Mother, the fairy touched my nose. “My gift is obedience. Ella will always be obedient. Now stop crying, child.” I stopped.’
Thus begins Gail Carson Levine’s enjoyable story of Ella of Frell. Ella is blessed with the gift of obedience. This gift is more of a curse, as she can have no will of her own. Ella has to obey an order – any order – be it to hop on one foot all day, or even to chop off her own head. But Ella grows up with a mind of her own, and a great sense of humour. She is determined to find the fairy who bestowed this gift on her, to beg her to take it back.
The action moves from Ella’s comfortable home, to the fashionable finishing school from where she runs away, across a land peopled with ogres, giants, elves and other exotic creatures. She helps her friend, Prince Char, tame the ogres, and continues on her quest, leaving the prince in love with her.
Her quest for Lucinda is unsuccessful. She is back home, doomed to obey a scheming step- mother and her stupid, ugly step- sisters. She loves prince Char too, but cannot marry him, as her gift of obedience would put Char and the whole realm of Frell in danger. She MUST refuse him. How Ella breaks the curse by her own strength of will, and saves not only herself, but also Prince Char, forms the heart-warming, romantic climax of the story.
Gail Carson Levine recreates the familiar Cinderella story in a novel, fascinating manner with all the original story’s trappings. Ella has a fairy- godmother. There is a pumpkin carriage, a royal ball, and a glass slipper that will fit only her foot. But Ella is no victim of circumstances. She sets out to change her destiny and does so, to the delight of the readers. The book is best suited for readers of 11 and above.
Ella Enchanted was Gail Carson Levine’s first book for children. It became the 1998 Newbery Honour Book and won numerous other awards. Gail grew up in New York City. She wanted to be a painter. She turned to writing after illustrating books for children. Her ‘Dave at Night’ is an award-winning book for young adults. She has written many other books like Two Princesses of Bamarre, and the Princess Tales for young people.
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Published by: Harper Trophy (Harper Collins) (First published in 1997)
Price: Rs 214/-