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Becoming Beauty Paperback – November 11, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Bella has one goal in life—to marry a wealthy man and live the rest of her days in luxury. That's easier said than done, especially since her father isn't rich and her sister, Cassie, is considered the beauty of the family. Bella's desire for the finer things in life comes with a hefty price tag when her father is imprisoned by a beast of man while obtaining a sizable jewel for her. Once her father escapes and returns home, Cassie and her brother, Aaron, decide that Bella must pay the price for her selfishness and return to serve their father's less-than-gracious host. The teen finds herself playing housemaid to a man she dubs "Beast" and his friend/servant, Jack. Readers may think they know what happens next, but this time Beast is not the victim of a spell, but a broken heart, and Bella finds remnants of a mysterious woman who used to live in the house, and begins to experience this woman's memories. This retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" has some flaws. The writing is overdone and flowery in some places, and the Beast comes off less as someone to save and more like someone to avoid. An additional purchase where fairy-tale reimaginings have a strong audience.—Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH
From the Back Cover
Self-centered Bella focuses her attention on beautiful dresses and fabulous balls rather than helping her family earn a living. And her siblings have had enough! To pay off their father's debt, they send Bella to a far-off manor where the owner is more like a beast than a man.
As their personalities clash, Bella comes to realize there's more to the Beast than she could ever have dreamed--if only she can look beneath the surface. And then there's Jack, the kind servant who helps Bella adjust to her new life, someone Bella could easily fall in love with. But pursuing love may cost Bella her dreams of wealth and beauty. And that's a price she's not willing to pay.
Top customer reviews
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I liked the twist of the novel to show that Belle had flaws, and appreciated that he siblings kicked her out. The author paints a beautiful transformation for Belle and just when I started to like her she acts rashly, kisses Jack, and boom-- I don't like her again. Both of the men where so kind and I felt she did t deserve either one. Her outburst in Rose's room was childish and immature. Sure, slam a door or break a mirror, but to shred every dress along with the bedding and curtains was too extreme in my opinion. Belle's moods and intelligence shifted too conveniently to be genuine and I no longer was invested in her future happiness.
I feel that the author did an excellent job crafting and exploring the feelings of her protagonist. As the reader, I enjoyed learning about who Bella really was along with her own realization of her growth. I believe that is what Boucher excelled with, the growth of her character into exactly what the title promised--Becoming Beauty. I love books that teach you something about yourself with the character's evolution, and this book did that.
As the novel progressed, Boucher's writing did. She mostly definitely has a way with language, able to say the most beautiful things in the simplest way. And this novel was a quick read, a style of book I like. I prefer not to be bogged down by superfluous writing.
There where a few things that I wished wasn't so convenient. And I really wished Boucher had developed the relationship between the Jack and Bella a bit more. They had moments. But it wasn't convincing enough for me. I was rooting for him, because as the story progressed, the real truth of everyone's feelings only lent the story to turn out a certain way. And I knew that it would, and I wasn't let down. I only wished there was just a little bit more. Not saying that I wasn't satisfied . . . kind of like when your favorite tv shows ends after the first season and you wish it hadn't. But still, the enjoyment of the novel was in the beauty of the language. And I did love those few gripping scenes that caught my breath.
So in the beginning . . . I was not in love with the protagonist right away at all. She is such a spoiled brat. That being said, it was hard to bond with her. And I felt her character a little flaky. She wants riches and jewels, and yet because of her selfish nature, I found it hard to even believe her compassion for her fathers plight--which she caused!
The novel was a bit slow going at first. It did not dive into tension right away. I wondered where we were going in the first chapter. I didn't quite grasp the condition the family was in and was blindsided by how poor they actually seemed on the second chapter. The whole thing just didn't seem realistic to me. A few more clarifying details could have helped or maybe a bit more character depth.
Finally in chapter four I saw the real Bella. "I sighed, thinking longingly of the glittering jewels and rich fabrics that lent distinction and refinement to my features. Without them, I was ordinary." Truly, she thought she was just an ordinary girl because of being over shadowed by her sisters beauty. I wish I had understood that from the beginning, instead of thinking she was just a selfish brat.
Along with this new revelation, the story picked up. Maybe it was Bella getting her hands dirty, because we had hit some action and tension. What is the beef with her hairy master anyway? I found him intriguing. Who doesn't like a fixer-upper?
One third of the way through, the story is moving along. Bella is having mysterious dreams, which I really loved this aspect. (I also wished it could have brought a supernatural element between the connection of the two girls. But alas that might be for fan fiction.) I also feel like I may have misjudged Bella's character. Her heart is softening towards the beast.
And so jumping to what bugged me. Why the first scene in the first chapter? It doesn't seem to fit with Bella's character at all or the novel's feel. And as the novel continued, that is the main thing that bothered me, the ballroom scene. The book could have well enough started with the second scene. I kept thinking we would return to this other world that was introduced in the first chapter and this mysterious Mr. Mason. It really bothered me. It wasn't needed for her depth of character. It actually only confused me because I couldn't make the Bella in the rest of the novel fit into the introductory mold. I wondered if the author wrote it at the very beginning or very end of her novel writing and just shoved it on.
I would have started the novel from, "I slid my feet from my beaded slippers and rubbed them to restore circulation." The rest of the story flowed seamlessly from there and we saw plentifully into Bella's personality to render the opening scene unnecessary. So I guess that was only my major irritant.
So ending on a happy note. I loved the beasts physical transformation. Hair cut scene--awesome. I loved how Bella "manipulated" him into his transformation. I loved Bella's "everything" transformation and the fact that she took to her every day mundane tasks. I love that Jack was such a loyal friend and only wanted Bella's happiness. (The only thing lacking was depth in Jack :( )
This was a clean read. I think even I would be fine with my ten year old reading it.
Oh and one final thing, and you will have to tell me if you do the same thing. Every time I read the beast's voice, I read it in the beast's voice from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. It kind of killed me, and at the same time I liked it. But that is exactly how I pictured him. The soft, gruffy, but trying to be calm voice. Especially every time Lumiere tried to calm him down.
Well done, Boucher. Well done. I look forward to another.
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