Monday, September 26, 2011

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella of Frell has never really known her father.  She and her mother are best friends living a happy life with their Cook, Mandy, for company.  But Ella is not your typical girl.  She was given the gift of obedience as a baby from a fairy who never gives good gifts, even when she has the best of intentions.  This gift means Ella must obey any and all orders - whether it be to sweep the floor, hop like a rabbit, or cut off her own head!
After Ella's mother dies, Ella must deal with her grief alone - for not only is her mother gone, but her father is sending her to finishing school with the two most horrid girls in the world - Hattie and Olive.  She wishes she could stay in Frell, enjoying the menagerie and her new friend Prince Charmont, but her father, who knows nothing of her curse, has ordered her to go.
But Ella is not one to shy from adventure, or to bend the rules of her obedience charm.  Ogres, elves, stepsisters, and possible true love wait in her future.  If only she could find the fairy who gave her the curse in the first place...

My thoughts -
At first, it was hard not to compare this book to the movie, which I've seen about ten times.  I still watch it every so often with my sisters to laugh and relive childhood memories, as silly as the movie is.  I wanted the book to be different but...the same.  Same characters, same order of events, same climax and turnout.

I got something completely different, and was at first surprised by this.  I wasn't sure how much I liked it - it lacked the action and intensity I was expecting.
But I soon got over this and found myself in a fluffy, light, floating fairy-tale that involves more silly magic and character development than action.  And then I was hit with the climax - and I went to my sister, who had already read the book, laughing and giggling and bursting about the story with her, while she tried to get me to stop hugging her with joy... ;)

In any case, I was so happy, by the end, to find how different and how much better this was from the movie, which I don't know if I'll ever watch again.  How could they have ruined such a beautiful story?!

Character notes -
I really loved all these characters.  They were three-dimensional and full of life and so different from each other.  I admired Ella (even though I thought she cried a lot), despised Hattie, and said, "Poar Olive" every once in a while to get a good laugh.  (Yes, I meant "poar".)

Prince Char, where to begin?  He started as a boy, and grew into a man, lovable, tender, and loving.  He lived up to my standards and definitely deserved this story's heroine!

Story notes -
Like I said before, I wasn't too happy with the lack of action and suspense...but it was hard to stay disappointed.  I found myself enjoying the story just as much as I'd been hoping, just in a different way.  It focused on Ella and how she came to be a woman, so whether this involved taming ogres or sewing for finishing school, it became an adventure.  A few of the scenes weren't as well written or executed as the others, but the turnout of those scenes always made up for it.

My favorite scenes involved the love letters.  Love letters always add the most touching and tender side to a story.  I'm so glad this story had many!!

Summing it up -
Lively - like skipping by a lake in the cool spring breeze.  I'm so glad to have gotten to know Ella, her friends, and even her enemies.  I want to read more of Levine's novels now!

Nothing for the parents - 11+

Read my other reviews!


  1. I read this book in elementary school and I loved it! I have since read it at least 5 more times, and it never fails to make me smile. I liked the movie too, but in a very different way. I wish they had made it more like the book.

    Great review.


  2. Aw, this sounds like a total heart-warmer! I really need to get around to reading it soon. I've liked the other Gail Carson Levine books I've read, but Ella Enchanted seems like it will be the best of the bunch.

  3. Ella is one of my top five faves. I read it in one day in the 7th grade and then bought my own copy a few years later so that I could read it again and again.

    I don't think the movie ruined a good story. It was just different. I loved both the movie and the book for different reasons.

  4. I've never watched the movie, but it sounds familiar. Very familiar. But your review was very well done! You summed it up really well. I want to look into the movie, now! ;-)

  5. Vyki @ On The ShelfSeptember 9, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    I have seen the movie and I really enjoyed it. I didn't find out until recently that it was also a book. I really have to read the book now and after you review, it'll get pushed up on my TBR :-)

  6. This sounds like a very adorable, sweet read. I actually haven't seen the movie - I know, was living under a rock?! I'm going to have to fix that soon! I'm really in love with the cover - it's so old-school and cute! :) I'm going to add this to my TBR, too, thanks to you! Fantastic review, really enjoyed how you broke things up into segments!

  7. Thanks Katie! :) Enjoy both the book and movie!

  8. Glad you liked the movie and will be reading the book! It was adorable and I'm actually getting ready to dive into it again... ;)

  9. Hahahahaha personally, you're not missing out on much by not having seen the movie... But it is a really good laughter-inducing movie if you're interested in one of those. haha ;)
    The book, however, is adorable, and highly recommended! :D