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While Beauty Slept Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews

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Length: 433 pages
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this magical reimagining of the fifteenth-century fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty’s story is told from the perspective of Elise Darliss, a poor farm girl who finds a place in the castle as a maid. Thanks to a strong work ethic and her rare ability to read and write, she eventually earns the position of private maid to the queen herself. The queen is kind, and Elise comes to know her well, and when the legendary princess is born, she befriends her, too. The rest of the tale is famously well-known, but Blackwell treats readers to a retelling that makes historical fiction of the fantasy. And, while she relates what really happened at the castle, we also get to see Elise bloom as she grows from farm girl to respectable lady. The story is dark and enchanting, if a little contrived at times, and Blackwell’s rendering of the medieval setting is rich and detailed. Following in the inspired footsteps of Gregory Maguire’s fairy-tale twists, this debut novel puts a spellbinding new spin on a classic yarn. --Cortney Ophoff


"Blackwell, previously a reporter and romance writer, makes her historical fiction debut with a gripping tale full of romance, secrets, and promises made and broken. This beautiful, original reinterpretation of a classic story is engrossing and often surprising." ---Library Journal Starred Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 1274 KB
  • Print Length: 433 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0399166238
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (February 20, 2014)
  • Publication Date: February 20, 2014
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,522 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
My review: I was so excited to read this book. Bracing for the second snowstorm in two weeks, I stocked up on supplies and we all planned on just hunkering down at home. I snuggled up and read the best retelling of Sleeping Beauty I could ever imagine. I'm not a fan of sweeping, sighing romances and too often fairy tale retellings are too sappy for me. The main character of While Beauty Slept is not the princess but instead a village girl who leaves her childhood farm to work in the castle. Beginning as a chambermaid and rising through the castle caste system to become the closest person to the royal family, Elise Dalriss is constantly questioning everyone's motives. This story has everything a great fairy tale should have: a castle, doting townspeople, and a loving king and queen, but also: twin sisters practicing herbal medicine and dark arts, womanizing knights, and betrayals. I compare this book to Mists of Avalon with an upstairs/downstairs theme because Elise is a servant but in direct contact with the royal family. 55 years ago, Disney adapted Grimm's Sleeping Beauty for the big screen and this year Maleficent releases in May. Blackwell's timing for this release is perfect. I read this book in paperback version and I suggest reading it in the same format if possible because this book begs you to cuddle up with it at night for a grown up bedtime story.

** I received this book in exchange for an honest review **
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Format: Paperback
'While Beauty Slept' is the beautiful and tragic fairy tale reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. The novel follows main character Elise - now an old woman - as she tells her great-granddaughter what really happened behind the story of Sleeping Beauty. Elise should know it well - she was the princess' companion when everything happened. The novel is Elise's story - of her life before and while at court, the lives of several powerful women, and the secrets of the princess herself - and what really happened during that fateful time.

I'm rarely at a loss for words while writing a review, but this book has left me completely speechless. Nothing I write will do this novel the justice it deserves, but I'll do my best to share my thoughts and opinions. Where to start? The entire book is magical. I was hooked from the very first line and I didn't quit reading until I had literally read the entire thing - which happened to be all at one time. The cast of characters that we meet in the story is unusual - a haphazard mix of the poor and the incredibly wealthy, a blend of men and women who search for happiness but remain lost, while others find exactly what they were looking for - even if it means not having the life they thought they wanted. Each character in the story - mostly the secondary ones - have distinct personalities and quirks that make them unique. The author wrote about each one in such a personal way that I felt as if I saw them - knew them - even if it wasn't more than an acquaintance. I don't even know how to describe Elise along with the other major characters in the book. Elise is determined to make something out of her life by working as a servant in the castle. She makes her way there and eventually starts moving up the hierarchy.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I've said time and time again that I have a special fondness for fairy tale retellings. I've been fascinated with The Brothers Grimm since I was a teenager and, having grown up on Disney cartoons and musicals, it's no surprise that I leap for anything that looks to have even a hint of an association with fairy tales. That's, unfortunately, led to some pretty gnarly reads (Ninja Cinderella, anyone?) but I'm happy to say that WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT was just nearly perfect. So nearly perfect that I may have shed a tear when it came to an end.

Let me give you an example of how engrossing this book was. The hardcover edition has 432 pages. Last night, I curled up in bed having read 70ish of those pages throughout the day. I thought... how in the world will I put this book down? And that was the last thought outside of the story I can remember having. I closed the book at 1am with a tear and a sigh and I woke up this morning completely engrossed in the story, still. The book may have finished last night at 1am, but my imagination is still blooming. That, my friends, is what I love about a good book.

Now, WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT is not perfect - don't get me wrong. There were some issues I struggled with, such as the cheesy way the narrator continued over, and over, and over again to foreshadow some great tragedy ahead. I also struggled a bit with the ending as everything seemed to tie up very neatly for a story that had been so convoluted. Also, by the end of the book, I wasn't sure who exactly the story was being narrated to and why and I had to revisit the beginning to get a sense of that (although I'm still not really sure).
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is the version of Sleeping Beauty I want my daughters to read!

Since entering adulthood, it has been my strong conviction that much of what ails American culture in particular but perhaps on a more global scale are Disney movies. The idea that good always conquers over evil, and that the princess always gets her handsome perfect prince in the end is ludicrous. But we grow up with those notions. Cautionary folk tales have been morphed into unrealistic brainwashing fairy tales.

Thank God for authors like Elizabeth Blackwell who have the good grace and wonderful creative ability to weave a more complex tale more reflective of real life.

Now that is not to say that I don’t enjoy some escapist reading on occasion—I do. But Blackwell’s revisioning of this classic fairy tale story is refreshing and refreshingly honest. From page one through to the very last page, Blackwell kept me eager to read the next line. Most apparently Blackwell borrows from Sleeping Beauty but there are also elements of Cinderella. Blackwell skillfully tells her story through the eyes of Elise a servant of the royal household, instead of through the princess. This device allows Blackwell to add dimension and depth to the story, allowing the reader to see the royals as people instead of heroes or idols and allows regular people to have heroic moments.

There is pain and suffering in this tale—Blackwell sugarcoats nothing. But there is also a tremendous amount of hope and redemption here that reflects a life worth living even without the guarantee of a happy ending.

While Beauty Slept is a superb modern interpretations of the classics and a welcome addition to my library. For the Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland lovers, this should be an absolute hit.
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