Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review: Bella at Midnight

Stanley, Diane. Bella at Midnight. New York: Harper Collins, 2006.

Isabel, though she does not know it, is the daughter of a knight. Her mother died giving birth to her. Her father couldn't stand the sight of her. Reared by peasants, Bella, as she is called, has a happy childhood. She has a brother and a sister and her dearest friend is Prince Julian. Bella and Julian separate under bad circumstances. Bella is summoned home by her natural father when he remarries. Unwanted and ill used, Bella finds little comfort in the home of her birth. When she learns of a plot to murder Julian, she knows she must act. Disguised first as a boy, then as a lady of the court, Bella warns Julian of the plot. Her warning is not enough. Julian's brother refuses to halt the attack on the country of Brutanna. Bella must and does avert a tragedy. After much worry and wondering, they all live happily ever after.

What I thought: I found it difficult to become engaged in this story. For one thing, each chapter was told from a different character's perspective. I'm sure the author did this for a reason, but wouldn't a first person or third person narrative have made much more sense? From the title, I assumed that this was another Beauty and the Beast story. The beauty is often called Belle or Bella, as bella means beautiful in Italian. This was more of a Cinderella story with a beautiful dress, glass slippers, a godmother, an unwanted stepdaughter, and a prince.

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