We’re All A Little Beastly: A Review of ‘Becoming Beauty’ by Sarah E. Boucher

“All of us are somewhat beastly, you know.” ~Jack, Becoming Beauty

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(Click the picture or here to buy).

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Claws. Long, filthy, and dangerously sharp.
They’re the first thing Bella sees after what’s been the worst day of her life. If Bella were the quintessential Beauty–gorgeous, kindhearted, and self-sacrificing–she might have a chance at transforming this monster into a man, but she’s never been the toad-kissing kind. Obsessed with landing a wealthy nobleman and escaping her humdrum life, Bella will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. Which is precisely what landed her here, at the mercy of the Beast.

In this imaginative retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Bella’s sense of entitlement strains both her family’s finances and patience. As punishment for her selfishness, she’s sent into the Beast’s service where she must choose whether to follow the path she’s always dreamed of–or risk it all for something even greater.

About Sarah E. Boucher (also from Amazon):
Sarah E. Boucher spends her days instilling young children with the same love of literature she has known since childhood. After hours, she pens her own stories and nurses an unhealthy obsession for handbags, high heels, baking, and British television. Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young University, who currently lives and teaches in Ogden, Utah. Becoming Beauty is her first novel.
You can connect with Sarah on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
My Review:
I give Becoming Beauty by Sarah E. Boucher 4 out of 5 stars.
It’s a fresh take on the traditional Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, with all of the characters being “somewhat beastly” in nature.  It’s about transformation, but Boucher touches on something deeper and I think very important: transformation should never come at the cost of who you really are.  Although the characters go through many positive changes throughout the story, they retain the characteristics that, well, make them who they are.  I love that concept!  I also really appreciated the choice Bella faces in the story – it’s a choice I wholeheartedly identify with (minus the fairy-tale characters and setting), and I think many other readers will as well.
From the first sentence, Boucher draws us into Bella’s personality, point of view, and surroundings.  I fully expected Bella to really annoy me, but as self-centered and manipulative as she was, she’s an endearing character because she owns who she is, and I found myself identifying with her instead.  And I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed the description and vocabulary in a book quite this much:  it’s not over the top, but does paint a concise picture of the characters and their settings and emotions.
Being a fairytale retelling, I was expecting a sinister plot element or character (and to be honest, I totally had one in the back of my mind), but it never came.  (Seriously. What is wrong with me?! Ha).  I also wanted to get to know Bella’s family a little bit better, discover more of their beastliness.
Becoming Beauty is a quick read, and I recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairytale retelling.  I’d also recommend it to fans of Jane Austen, because to me it had the feel of a Jane Austen novel, though perhaps more introspective.  In other words, if you like Once Upon a Time and Emma, I think you’ll really like Becoming Beauty.
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(A super attractive book selfie with Becoming Beauty, for your viewing pleasure).

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2 thoughts on “We’re All A Little Beastly: A Review of ‘Becoming Beauty’ by Sarah E. Boucher

  1. It sounds like this re-telling changes the conception of who the Beauty of the story is. Isn’t the point that she’s supposed to be someone with simple needs and desires, who loves her father above all else (#elektracomplex), and will sacrifice herself for the good of the family?

    I’m all for a fairy tale re-telling, but I don’t like when a character is completely changed for the sake of a story. And I feel that the Beauty of Beauty and the Beast is, possibly, one of the most fleshed out characters we have in fairy tale literature. At the very least, she is supposed to act as a foil to her sisters, who are selfish and vain.

    & it’s not ridiculous to expect dark danger to be lurking within a fairy tale adaptation – I would agree, that is expected. I think it’s one of the things we love about fairy tales – it touches on the dark aspects. Sometimes, without even a happy ending (like when Sleeping Beauty and her children are eaten by the Prince’s stepmother, whom he doesn’t know is an ogre #perceptive).

    I do like the point you make, that even if you need to change, that shouldn’t mean your core, the essence of who you are, should change.

    How do you feel about the fact that Beauty’s character has been so changed, however? I would love to hear your opinion on that aspect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really enjoyed Boucher’s twist on the traditional Beauty. I find flawed protagonists more compelling than perfectly moral main characters as a rule, though. The Beauty in the traditional tale is perhaps more of what we aspire to be as people, but I found Bella in ‘Becoming Beauty’ to be more relatable as a character. Additionally, a self-serving Bella contributes to the “we’re all a little beastly” theme Boucher weaves throughout the plot. Given your preference not to see a character restructured for the sake of the plot (something I don’t take issue with and actually find quite creative in this instance), however, there’s a good possibility you won’t like this retelling. (Different strokes for different folks, and all that jazz).

      Thanks for reading and thinking and commenting! 🙂

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