Bryony And Roses
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
Bryony and her sisters have come down in the world. Their merchant father died trying to reclaim his fortune and left them to eke out a living in a village far from their home in the city.
But when Bryony is caught in a snowstorm and takes refuge in an abandoned manor, she stumbles into a house full of dark enchantments. Is the Beast that lives there her captor, or a fellow prisoner? Is the house her enemy or her ally? And why are roses blooming out of season in the courtyard?
Armed only with gardening shears and her wits, Bryony must untangle the secrets of the house before she—or the Beast—are swallowed by them.
From the author of "The Seventh Bride" comes a new retelling of Beauty & the Beast, with gardeners, clockwork bees, and roses.
A delightful, lush, and satisfyingly feminist take on the Beauty and the Beast
There’s something of a “comfort food” dynamic to fairy tale re-tellings. Whether they provide a straightforward take on the original, fleshed out into the depth of the modern novel format, or they add an original interpretive twist in terms of characters or settings, or they actively subvert the underlying themes and messages of the original, there will be that central framework that organizes the reader’s understanding and expectations.
Bryony and Roses is a relatively straightforward version of Beauty and the Beast, notable for the non-nonsense likeability of the protagonist and the agency she is allowed, as well as for avoiding the all-too-common B&B theme of a woman humanizing (literally) a man through her unconditional love. This version is more of a quest/mystery/adventure tale, with the heroine prevailing against magical forces for the sake of justice (with a bit of love on the side).
The story discards the theme of the father who promises to hand his daughter over to the Beast to save his own life and instead has Bryony make her own choices and fulfill her own promises. The Beast may be existentially terrifying but he is never anything less than kind, generous, and respectful to Bryony. It is his true self that inspires her heroism, not any misty promise of transformative reward. The menace is provided by the sinister(?) manor house in which the Beast is clearly more of a prisoner than Bryony herself is.
The mysteries behind the Beast’s situation and plight are masterfully hinted at and unveiled as Bryony works to establish her own place (and plant her own garden--an act I deeply appreciate as a gardener) within the enchanted manor. I confess that the protagonist’s no-nonsense personality and her central identity as a gardener led me to visualize the author herself in the role (or at least to visualize her blog avatar), which added to the enjoyment.
Overall a delightful, lush, and satisfyingly feminist take on the Beauty and the Beast story.