About pages in, I was convinced the author had far too many ideas for her own good, and no idea of how to weave them together into a cohesive story. I ended up enjoying the hell out of Beauty, so much so that I considered giving it five stars. Not bad for a book which initially struck me as trying too hard and failing. So what is Beauty about?
|Published (Last):||9 January 2015|
|PDF File Size:||13.44 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||17.49 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Pages: Beauty is the daughter of a noble, a father with a wonderful estate but little in the way of attention for his daughter. Her mother is dead or gone, and no one will talk about her except negatively. She was raised largely by an array of herb-named aunts and the local priest, and has heard the rumors and whispers about being cursed long before she knew that being cursed was something bad.
There is something bright and burning in her chest, but it has little impact on her life. Until, that is, she discovers a letter from her mother: her mother was from Faery, returned to Faery, and she was cursed by a fairy godmother to prick her finger and fall into an enchanted sleep. Indeed, the eponymous hero escapes her sleeping fate through a well-handled ambiguity and Beauty quickly wanders far afield, turning into a grab bag of fractured fairy tales, stories of Faery, good versus evil polemic, time-travel, and futuristic dystopia.
Some of these stories are engrossing and excellent, some are frustrating and shallow, and some are little but thinly veiled excuses for Tepper to rant. Taken as a whole, they form a novel that is deeply flawed but still worth reading. The fractured fairy tales are the best part of the book.
Apart from the Sleeping Beauty motif that forms the stage for the story, there are retellings of Cinderella and Snow White, a frog prince, and a passing mention of Rapunzel, plus doubtless many other allusions that went past me unnoticed. Beauty brings a practical empathy to the stories and a wry amusement when she recognizes them along with the reader having learned them during her time in the twentieth century.
Tepper adds a nice layer of reality while still preserving the details of the stories. The best is the treatment of Snow White, featuring a collection of Basque dwarf miners and an unspeakably beautiful Snow White with slightly less brains than the average cabbage.
Less successful is the time travel dystopian plot. Immediately after the opening sequence, Beauty is taken to a future where the world is covered with high-density apartments, the environment has been destroyed by relentless population pressure, and people are fed with tasteless processed algae.
This scene, the subsequent escape to the twentieth century, and the events that follow are mostly an excuse for Tepper to rant about the evils of pro-life fanatics, religion, population growth, horror, slasher movies, and porn, using a dystopian scenario that feels like it escaped from the s or s.
The eye-rolling induced by sweeping proclamations about porn leading to rape and snuff films interferes somewhat with reading the novel. This vision of a catastrophic future thankfully fades into a background motivation for Beauty and the book is better for it. Time travel is otherwise used as an excuse to let Beauty write with the same assumptions as the reader, providing a more sympathetic but less unique narrator for the rest of the book, and to tie the main thesis of the story to the history of Faery.
Faery is the other major subplot of the book. Beauty spends time there, trying to get to know her mother and come to terms with that side of her heritage. Beauty herself is, through her "curse," a guardian of sorts of the concept of beauty, which Tepper approaches from a pastoral, romantic perspective and links to the beauty of the environment, simple love, imaginative stories, and a Heaven-like abstract rightness.
Against beauty stands the Dark One, Satan in essence, who creates a hell full of pornographers and horror movie producers Tepper really is a little obsessed and who attempts to capture and destroy Beauty through the story. Faery could have provided that, as sympathetic but disobedient former allies of the Holy One who now pay a tiend to Hell, but they end up as mostly superficial dupes.
As a novel, Beauty is all over the place, and I think it suffers from attempting too much at once. I wish Tepper had stuck to the after-the-fact loquacious journal style of the excellent opening chapters the journal headings remain, but the style shifts more and more to real-time first-person as the story goes along , had trimmed much of the polemic, and had dropped one or two major themes.
Still, Beauty herself is a compelling character and held my interest through the entire story. I was afraid that the outraged good versus evil dualism was going to drown the ending of the book, but right at the end Tepper returns to the fractured fairy tale style that she does best and salvages a satisfying ending. Rating: 6 out of 10 Reviewed:
Sheri S. Tepper
Vorisar The best is the treatment of Snow White, featuring a collection of Basque dwarf bfauty and an unspeakably beautiful Snow White with slightly less brains than the average cabbage. Sheri S. Tepper — Wikipedia Words bubble up in me like water. The familiar elements react to make a very original whole. I kept reading because it was such a train wreck, a sick sense of fasciation held my interest. I would recommend it, but warn the reader not to expect breathless excitement or complete coherence: Buried beautj all those stepdaughters, Grandmama would have been unlikely to find a second husband, especially since there was nothing left of either her dowry or her dower.
BEAUTY SHERI TEPPER PDF