A very tepid retelling of a classic.
Listen, one thing you need to know about me as a person is that I LOVE fairy tale retellings. I love any version of a fairy tale that is skewed toward adults. Always have, always will.
That being said, this one didn’t speak to me very much.
Rose Sinclair’s father has fallen on hard times via gambling and is jailed. In order to pay off his debt and help him be free, Rose sells everything in her family’s precious bookshop and goes to see Henry Covington, the most local Baron, begging for a job taking care of the finances of his estate. Henry has heard of her fathers’ reputation and refuses her, offering only to let her work in his estate as a maid. She accepts, as she has no other option, and does her best to do her job, even as the rest of the house staff bully her.
Of course, the two are forced into a small space together and come to realize more about each other’s true personalities, but the story never really feels like it has any stakes. It’s not a bad book by any means, just entirely uneventful. There was angst to Beauty and the Beast, and even though it was a movie/tale for children that you knew would turn out okay, there were still things in it that gave the characters drive. Henry is a bit of a wet blanket and you can smell the villain characters a mile away. My real issue was that in the original (Disney) portrayal of Beauty and the Beast, Beast is intense and aggressive and you can see why people stay away. In this version, Henry is kinda just short-tempered and grumpy. He has an immediate pull to Rose, so there doesn’t feel like enough of a payoff when they get to know one another. Again it wasn’t bad per se, just a bit generic for my taste. If I see ‘fairy tale retelling’ I’m expecting at least a little magical realism in the story, but sadly this one was lacking magic entirely.
Title: Beauty and the Baron
Author: Joanna Barker
Three Descriptors: Retelling, quick build, wholesome