Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just Ella (The Palace Chronicles)

Title: Just Ella

Series: The Palace Chronicles (Book #1)

Year: 2001

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Summary: "Princess, nobody can stop those rumors. People would rather believe in fairy godmothers...than think that you took charge of your own destiny."

Like every commoner in the land, Ella dreams of going to the ball and marrying Prince Charming. But after she is chosen to marry the prince, life with the royal family is not the "happily ever after" that Ella imagined. Pitiless and cold, the royals try to mold her into their vision of a princess. Ella's life becomes a meaningless schedule of protocol, which she fears she will never grasp. And Prince Charming's beautiful face hides a vacant soul.

Even as her life turns to misery, the stories persist that Ella's fairy godmother sent her to the ball: How else could the poor girl wear a beautiful gown, arrive in a coach, and dance in those glass slippers? But there is no fairy godmother to help Ella escape the deadening life of the castle. Can she do it on her own?

Margaret Peterson Haddix's reconstruction of the Cinderella legend without the magic -- how a commoner could have married the prince -- is a story as richly fascinating as the classic tale. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Ella Brown
~ Madame Bisset
~ Prince Charming
~ Jed Reston

Review: Just Ella is a popular retelling of the fairy tale everyone loves: Cinderella. I was pretty excited when I discovered it and added to my growing list of Cinderella stories to read. The plot sounded really good -- after the ball, Cinderella discovers that "happily ever after" may not be all that it's cracked up to be. What could be more interesting?

But reading this book, I found myself quickly disappointed. Ella does nothing but complain in the palace, and though you can hardly blame her (she suffers through hours of needlepoint, boring conversations, and iron corsets, for cat's sake!), it quickly got on my nerves. She was only fifteen years old, but alternated between acting like a five year old and an old grump. The life of the royal court was greatly exaggerated for the sake of the fairy tale, but at times (in those rare instances when luck finally won out), it grew to be humorous. Most of the characters were really shallow, and it was hard to connect with them. I got irritated with some of the plot twists, as characters were doing things out of character, in a sense. 

I've seen other reviews of this book that say this story would have been more satisfactory if the author had given more of a decided ending. Haddix continues a bit of Ella's story in the second book of the Palace Chronicles, Palace of Mirrors (which I read a few years ago). I didn't even know it was part of a series, as both books tend to stand alone, save for a few mentions of Ella in the second. On the whole, while I found the ideas very interesting, I wasn't very impressed with either of the books.

Advisory: There were quite a few crude and "adult" comments that I was greatly displeased over, and for that, I don't think I could recommend the book for readers under 14. I'm 20 and I was disgusted reading them.

For romance -- there is one kiss when Ella "falls in love" with the prince, and she thinks about cuddling a lot, but I didn't notice anything other than that.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Just Ella on Amazon!

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I loved the idea of this book, and I like how it retold the actual fairy tale, but beyond that, I was really disappointed in it when I read it. I loved the cover though, the one you have here. Can't say as much for the cover that it changed to, since that one felt way too modern for the story.


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