If I had to choose only one book to be able to read for the rest of my life (which would be a very, very hard choice) Ella Enchanted would definitely be in the top five. After all, I have already read it approximately 5-7 times since I bought it in the fifth grade and it has yet to grow old.
Now, you might’ve heard of this title already from the movie version starring Anne Hathaway. If you haven’t, then you’ve been spared because the book is a thousand times better than the movie. And, yes, I generally find that books are better than the movie, but this movie adaptation is seriously horrendous. The first five minutes follow the book exactly, but after that it all goes down hill.
My desire to suddenly re-read it came when I read the Grimm brother’s version of Cinderella because Ella Enchanted is a retelling of that fairy tale except with slight differences.
When Ella was a baby she was given the gift of obedience by a fairy, Lucinda, who didn’t know any better. She spends her whole life having to obey any command given to her, even if it means killing herself. When her mother dies, she meets the prince formally for the first time. They become friends, but shortly after Ella is sent away to finishing school where she has to endure Hattie and Olive, two spoiled girls who quickly figure out that she has to do what she’s told and use it to their advantage. What’s even worse, Ella’s father marries Hattie and Olive’s mother and she becomes a servant in her own home.
Through all this she is offered a way out: while away vising a neighboring kingdom the prince writes to Ella, telling her that he loves her. The only problem: her curse could put his life and the kingdom at risk. Instead, she forges a letter from her stepsister, Hattie, that says Ella ran off to marry a rich man. On the prince’s return a year later, the royal court holds three balls so he can find a wife. Ella is determined to go, to see him for the last time before giving him up for good. But when she’s discovered, will she be able to break the curse and live happily ever after or will her curse destroy the kingdom?
What I love about this book is that it follows the general telling of Cinderella, but brings in new elements, such as the curse, that make it more interesting. The characters are also very well written. No matter how many times I read this book I always fall in love with the prince and despise the stepsisters. It’s easy to connect with Ella in her journey to living happily ever after.