Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper
Beauty’s mother was absent during her childhood. In their castle rooms her aunts would whisper about the scandal. Beauty’s father was rarely home, usually off on some crusade or another. When he was home, he paid more attention to his visiting women than he ever did to Beauty. By the time she was fifteen, though, Beauty learned that her mother was a Faery. Also, she learned there was a curse on herself. On her sixteenth birthday she was to prick herself on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep.
When her father decided to remarry, Beauty knew it was time to leave the castle. But she kept dithering, holding off until her birthday. On that day, the curse struck, but she was able to avoid it in an unusual fashion. Before she had realized what had happened, she found herself in the late twentieth century.
The world was nothing like she imagined it could be. It was bleak and desolate, run by an entity called Fidipur. She wasn’t supposed to have accompanied a filming team, so had to hide in one member’s apartment. Bill, a dwarf size man, kept her with him. She wasn’t supposed to leave the apartment. Yet finally when she was overwhelmed with the solitude and sameness of her surroundings she snuck out. Beauty discovered the “outside world” was as stark as the apartment and that all magic, beauty and joy appear to have disappeared over the centuries. Even the magic garment she owned didn’t work.
Don’t try to guess where Beauty will lead the reader next. Usually you get into a book and have a general idea of where it’s going, approximately what could happen next. Beauty defies all generalities or guessing. I thought I knew where Tepper was going only to have her make the tale take a sharp unexpected turn. Then I would get it again, only to be switched back one more time.
As usual, Tepper’s writing kept me pulled into the book. But I found it unsettling. It is difficult to stay with the about changes. The author has a definite statement she is trying to make in Beauty, but she adds in other ideas as well and waters them down so much that even the main focus of the environmental issues is blunted. I had to chuckle at the way Tepper is able to pull Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and the Frog Prince into the novel. But on the whole, I’d recommend some of her other novels above this one.
Notice: Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations