Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rose Daughter

McKinley, Robin. 1997. Rose Daughter.

Her earliest memory was of waking from the dream. It was also her only clear memory of her mother.

Rose Daughter is Robin McKinley's retelling of her retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Under no circumstances confuse it with her first retelling of Beauty and the Beast; the one simply titled Beauty. I read Beauty a few years ago back in my pre-blogging days. I remember being charmed with it. It was a beautiful story, a beautiful retelling. Though there is an author's note explaining why the author felt the need to go back and tell this tale twice, part of me (okay, all of me) wishes that she hadn't. Beauty is everything Rose Daughter isn't. It's magical. It's beautiful. It works. Rose Daughter is boring, boring, very boring.

What has changed between the two books? Well, an emphasis on gardening and on roses specifically. All this Beauty ever does is garden, garden, talk about gardening, talk about pruning, and get excited about blooms or get frustrated when there are no blooms. There is also an emphasis on cats. Cats, cats, everywhere. This Beauty seems to have a way of entrancing cats and other animals like bats and spiders and hedgehogs. It's just very odd. Odd for a book to have a chapter on her finding a bat and giving it a place to live and talking about bat poop. A lot about bat poop. More than I wanted to know.

Everything that was beautiful and touching and magical about the first book, the first Beauty, is gone and replaced by hundreds of pages of her pruning and talking about fertilizer and making new cuttings.

I suppose there may very well be garden enthusiasts out there who can't get enough of fictional heroines working in the dirt and making pretty flowers bloom. But I'm so not one of them. The book was dreadfully dull. The small details that made me fall in love with Beauty and the Beast were just not here in Rose Daughter.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


The Bookworm 3:54 PM  

oh no...bat poop? sorry this one was dull.
I've read books like that before to...where I find myself wondering 'what the heck?'

Tricia 4:31 PM  

This is the only McKinley I've read, and I liked it! I guess it only bodes well for me when I read Beauty.

Debi 4:38 PM  

Well crap. I have this one a challenge list. Though the cats and bat poop probably wouldn't bother me. The pruning probably would. Maybe I'll have to make a substitution.

Becky 4:49 PM  

Reading is subjective, so Debi you could end up loving this one. I can't really predict that. I loved the other one so much, that this one was just a big disappointment.

Ana S. 4:55 PM  

It's too bad this one was such a disappointment...I have it on my wishlist, since I loved Beauty and really liked Deerskin. I'm not much into gardening, father is, maybe I should recommend it to him :P

RR2 5:16 PM  

I was planning on reading Rose Daughter and Beauty. I suppose I'll skip Rose Daughter now and just read beauty!

Unknown 5:29 PM  

I read Beauty and Rose Daughter around the same time some years ago and I loved Rose Daughter so much more than Beauty! I've read several of McKinley's books and I gotta say Rose Daughter is one of my favourite. Oh, and I don't like gardening. LOL

Becky 6:00 PM  

I think it might be one of those time and place things. I just wasn't in the 'time and place' to enjoy this one much. But it's most likely me. McKinley's other books have always been enjoyable. And chances are this one is just as enjoyable, but not this time around for me.

Kim L 10:00 PM  

becky, I have the exact same opinion as you. Loved Beauty, never even managed to finish Rose Daughter because it bored me to death. McKinley is an uneven writer, I either love or hate her books. No in between.

Rhinoa 7:20 AM  

I am looking forward to reading Beauty but won't rush out and get this one if I love it so thanks for the warning. It's interesting she has written two takes on the same tale. Hopefully you will enjoy more of her writing at a later date.

Paige Y. 4:37 PM  

I agree -- Beauty was what really turned me on to the story of Beauty and the Beast. I was excited when Rose Daughter came out and then massively disappointed by it. I liked all of the other McKinley books I've read, just not Rose Daughter.

mariel 2:07 AM  

Ah shame. Though I do find it rather strange that someone would want to write two books based on the same story. I have been wanting to read Spindle's End and Beauty for a while now, and didn't even know this book existed. I'm curious now, but then again, don't really want to waste my time...especially when there's so many other books to read! hmm.

Jeane 10:11 AM  

I felt the same way about Rose Daughter. I didn't like it nearly as well as Beauty, and even after the author's explanation, really don't understand why she wrote two books about the same story. It just doesn't make sense to me, especially when the second one wasn't (in my opinion) an improvement upon the first.

Emily 11:39 AM  

I read Beauty and Rose Daughter back to back. I wondered if I wasn't as enchanted with Rose Daughter because I had just read her other version of the same story. I enjoyed the new elements in Rose Daughter, but I agree that it didn't have the magic of Beauty.

Elizabeth 3:06 PM  

It seems to me like McKinley might have a tendancy to latch onto one characteristic/habit/skill from her heroines and then go into it in much more detail than neccessary. Her constant talk about baking and cinnamon rolls in Sunshine really bothered me, and Deerskin focus a lot on dogs (though that I enjoyed). I've read Beauty, but I barely remember it to say if there was a similar situation there.

Anonymous,  8:03 AM  

Well....I read Rose Daughter before Beauty, and I confess that I absolutly love Rose Daughter. I never 'felt' Beauty- seemed too distant- but Rose Daughter just swept me away. I read it in one day, and the next day I read it again. I never 'felt' Spindles End either.

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