|Author||Gail Carson Levine|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback) and Audiobook|
Ella Enchanted is a Newbery Honor book written by Gail Carson Levine and published in 1997. The story is a retelling of Cinderella featuring various mythical creatures including fairies, elves, ogres, gnomes, and giants.
At birth, Eleanor (Ella) of Frell was visited by the well-meaning but misguided fairy Lucinda. Lucinda gave her the "gift" of obedience, which turns out to be a curse because Ella now MUST obey any order given to her.
When she is nearly fifteen, her mother, Lady Eleanor, dies. At the funeral, she meets and befriends Prince Charmont (Char). It's not too long after their friendship begins however, that her father sends her to finishing school with the snotty daughters of the wealthy Dame Olga: Hattie and Olive. Before she leaves, Mandy, her cook and fairy godmother, gives Ella her mother's necklace and a magic book. Ella can read a story and when she closes the book another story appears. Mandy writes letters to Ella, which Ella read through the book, and she finds entries from Char's journal as well. Hattie realizes Ella always does what she is told, but she does not exactly know why. She orders Ella to give her Lady Eleanor's necklace. Ella must obey. She starts to take advantage of it, but Ella takes comfort in her new friend Areida.
When Ella learns that her father is attending a giant's wedding where fairies may be present, she runs away in the hope of finding Lucinda at the wedding and asking to have the curse lifted. But, on the way to the wedding after staying with a group of generous elves, she is captured by ogres who eat her pony and order her not to run away. However, when they are about to eat her, she uses her knowledge of their hypnotic language to charm them to sleep, and she is soon saved by Char and his knights.
Ella finds Lucinda and tries to persuade her to lift the curse, but Lucinda doesn't understand. Instead, Lucinda wills Ella to be happy about her "gift". Suddenly, Ella is perfectly happy to do everything that she is told to do. Mandy, Ella's fairy god-mother, soon realizes that it's just another order, and reverses it. Ella returns to the manor with her father, who, after failing to find a rich husband for Ella, decides to marry Dame Olga in order to pay off his debts. Ella meets Prince Char again at the wedding. While exploring the old castle together during the wedding reception, they find glass slippers hidden in a garden and Char gives them to Ella; they also dance together and slide down the staircase banister, something they had talked about before. A few days later he leaves the country for a year on a diplomacy mission to Ayortha, but they write to each other frequently.
After Ella's father leaves to continue his trading business, Dame Olga makes Ella a slave in her own house due to the fact that Ella's father was secretly poor. Meanwhile, Ella and Char fall in love via their letters. Char asks if she is too young to marry, and she, initially believing this to be a joke, responds in each letter in a different way, avoiding answering the question directly. Frustrated, Char finally writes of his love for her, but Ella realizes that since she is under the curse, marrying him would put him and the country in danger: for example, she could be ordered to kill him and she wouldn't be able to do anything about it. To prevent this, she tricks him into believing she has eloped with another man.
Char, heartbroken, eventually returns to Kyrria and attends the three-night homecoming ball in his honor. Ella, who still loves him, is overcome with the desire to see him again, and decides to go in disguise. With the help of Mandy and Lucinda — who, after having a taste of her own medicine, has reformed — and wearing the glass slippers and a mask, she goes to the balls under the name "Lela". On the third night of the ball, when she is dancing with Char, a jealous Hattie snatches off her mask and Ella flees, losing a glass slipper on the way. She runs to the manor, where she and Mandy plan to run away and make their living as cooks, but Char and his knights arrive before they can leave. Char, still in love, tells her to marry him, but she fights an inner battle trying to defy the order, wishing to protect Char and the kingdom from the dangers of her curse. She succeeds, screaming she won't marry him, breaking the curse. Free from the spell, she accepts Char's hand in marriage because she wants to, and they live happily ever after.
Common Sense Media, a family-based reviewing site, rated the book with four stars out of five, suggesting it for readers over 11 due to some minor, violent themes. With regard to the main character Ella, they state, "[S]he is a strong and intelligent role model -- instead of taking her misfortune sitting down, she marches off to rid herself of the troublesome curse."
On April 9, 2004, an American movie loosely based on the novel was released. It was directed by Tommy O'Haver and starred Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy as Ella and Char, respectively. The film received mostly mixed reviews. Levine stated that the flim is "so different from the book that it's hard to compare them," noting the addition of new characters such as Sir Edgar and Heston, and suggested "regarding the movie as a separate creative act".
- Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present. Association for Library Service to Children. Accessed on June 29, 2010.
- "Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - Book Review". commonsensemedia.com. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "Gail Carson Levine". Kidsreads.com. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
- Gail Carson Levine's official website