Ella Enchanted, written by Gail Carson Levine, is an enjoyable novel for all ages. For this reason I include it as one of my favorite novels. Whenever I need a light, quick, amusing read, I turn to Ella Enchanted.
Levine based this novel on the Cinderella story. The main character, Ella, was cursed with obedience at birth. Despite this curse she remains rebellious and spends the book trying figure out how to break the curse. She learned early in life the danger of telling anyone about the curse.
Following the Cinderella layout, Ella’s mom dies when she is young. As per the fairytale, Ella then ends up with a horrible stepmother and two horrible stepsisters. Discovering that Ella’s extreme obedience, they immediately put her to work as a maid. Ella’s father is a traveling salesman and refuses to come home and help his daughter. Just like the fairytale, the royal family holds a ball, which Ella cannot resist attending.
Likes and Dislikes
While this book has witty conversation, the only character with any depth is Ella. Told from her point of view, the reader sees Ella grow from childhood dreams to maturity and selflessness. Ella’s struggle with forced obedience makes her relatable and interesting. On the other hand, the other characters were more stereotypes of a person then actual people. The stepmother and stepsisters show the stereotype of selfish, greedy people. Ella’s father embodies the stereotypical absentee dad, not cruel, but uncaring. While the prince is the stereotypical good prince, with concern for his family and kingdom. I think this book would have been even more amazing if we could have known the prince better, or if the step-family had more backstory then just extreme greed.
I did enjoy that at the funeral of her mom, Ella meets the Prince, Char. This relationship develops throughout the story with meetings and letters. I like that they have time to get to know each other. It makes the romance in the story more realistic and less like lust at first sight. I also like that throughout the whole book, Ella’s main drive is to figure out how to get rid of her obedience curse. She wants to make choices for herself and be independent.
Lighthearted and fun, Gail Carson Levine engages readers from the beginning until the end of Ella Enchanted. It is an enjoyable read at anytime and with anyone. I would recommend this book to anyone, including as a fun story to read out loud to children. Let me know what you think of this book.