Being that today marks the launch party for Beauty and the Beast, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to discuss the ways I based it on the original fairytale. The story of Beauty and the Beast was written in 1740 by a woman named Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. However, the version we know best is the abridged version of the story, which Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont wrote in 1756. I pulled inspiration from both versions of the story.
In a nutshell, in Beaumont’s version of the story Belle–the daughter of a bankrupt merchant–lives in the beast’s castle as collateral damage after her father picks one of the beast’s prize roses. While staying in the castle Belle is spoiled rotten. Beast gives her the best foods, jewels, an extensive wardrobe, and every thing her heart desires. Each night he asks her to marry him and she says no because “she only sees him as a friend.” (HAH.) After living like this for several months Belle gets homesick and–with the beast’s blessing–returns home, promising she’ll be back within a week. The beast sends a magic mirror with her so she can see what’s happening back at the castle. Belle’s sisters (she has two) grow jealous of Belle’s lavish lifestyle when she comes home and tells all that has happened to her, and they convince her to stay for an extra day. When Belle returns to the castle and finds the beast dying of a broken heart. (Apparently he loved her so much he would die if she spent more than a week away from him.) Belle cries and tells the beast she loves him, and he is turned into a handsome prince. He explains that he had to live as a beast until a maiden fell in love with him because he was cursed by a fairy when he refused to let her seek shelter in his castle during a storm.
Villeneuve’s story is basically that, only Villeneuve dove more into the beast’s past as well as Belle’s. In her version you find out that the beast was not cursed because he was a brat, but instead a wicked witch cast the enchantment on him and Belle is actually the daughter of a king and a good fairy. (She was given to the merchant to take in as his adopted child when her mother died and the king remarried a wicked step mother who wanted to kill Belle.) Villeneuve additionally had a much larger cast of characters that Beaumont culled to make the story shorter, and she wrote about the beast’s royal family.
I wanted to take my version of the story back to the originals rather than base it off the more modern adaptions, so I took elements from both of the stories. My take on Beauty and the Beast has the magic mirror and the beast’s obsession with roses. I also made my story of a similar timeline (months rather than weeks) although Elle’s arrival and broken leg are my own invention. As in the original, Elle is one of three daughters, her father is a bankrupt merchant, and she is given a gorgeous wardrobe and exotic/delicious food. I gave homage to both Villeneuve and Beaumont by having a wicked witch curse Severin (the beast) to live and act like a beast. I slightly twisted Beaumont’s version so that it was a beautiful enchantress who saved Severin by restoring his mind to him, however, she was unable to change his appearance and as a result placed a spell on him so he could return to his real body if a maiden fell in love with him. Like Villeneuve’s story, Elle is not what she appears to be (although it has nothing to do with her parentage so NO she is not a half fairy.) and I included more information on Severin’s family.
Additionally, as both of these ladies are French I tried to give my story a French feel to it. Most of the names are French, and the clothing and fashions presented in the book are all from approximately 1650-1750 France, ditto with the foods.
Of course this is my version of beauty and the beast, so my story includes fighting, pending wars, espionage, strong minded characters, humor, and a lot more danger than anything presented in the original stories. I hope you get a chance to read it, and that you enjoy it. Happy reading, Champions, and I will see you on Monday!