Summary and book reviews of Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted

By Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted
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  • Hardcover: May 1997,
    240 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 1998,
    232 pages.

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Book Summary

At her birth, Ella of Frell was the unfortunate recipient of a foolish fairy's gift--the "gift' of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it's hopping on one foot for a day and a half, or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse--once and for all.

In this incredible debut novel comes the richly entertaining story of Ella of Frell, who at birth was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, for how can she truly be herself if at anytime anyone can order her to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom'and she'll have to obey? Against a bold tapestry of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella's quest to break the curse once and for all and discover who she really is is as sharply funny as Catherine, Called Birdy and as richly poignant as Beauty, and has all the marks of a classic in the making.

Chapter One

That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift. When I cried inconsolably through my first hour of life, my tears were her inspiration. Shaking her head sympathetically at Mother, the fairy touched my nose. "My gift is obedience. Ella will always be obedient. Now stop crying, child."

Father was away on a trading expedition as usual, but our cook, Mandy, was there. She and Mother were horrified, but no matter how they explained it to Lucinda, they couldn't make her understand the terrible thing she'd done to me. I could picture the argument: Mandy's freckles standing out sharper than usual, her frizzy gray hair in disarray, and her double chin shaking with anger; Mother still and intense, her brown curls damp from labor, the laughter gone from her eyes.

I couldn't imagine Lucinda. I didn't know what she looked like.

She wouldn't undo the curse.

My first awareness of it came on my fifth ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. When she started writing this novel, Gail Carson Levine wanted to base her story on Cinderella but didn’t want Ella to be a "goody two-shoes." So Levine created the obedience "gift," which forces Ella to be good. Identify additional differences and similarities between Ella Enchanted and the classic fairy tale Cinderella.

  2. Ella’s father tries to set up a marriage for her with a man who is much older. How are marriages arranged in Frell? Do people marry for love or other reasons? How are marriage customs in Frell like and unlike modern marriage customs in our society?

  3. What kind of relationship does Ella have with her father? Do you feel he is wrong to try and marry her off to a wealthy man or to leave Ella alone with ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

This lighthearted fantasy and recent Newbery Honor book re-invents the Cinderella story. A winning combination of memorable characters and an alluring fantasy realm.

School Library Journal - Bruce Anne Shook

"Cinderella" story is the jumping-off point for an original novel that nevertheless remains grounded in the traditional fairy tale.....It is lighter in tone than those novels, however, having more in common with the fractured fairy tales of William Brooke. A thoroughly enchanting novel that deepens and enriches the original tale.

Kirkus Reviews

This refreshing take on one of the world's most popular fairy tales preserves the spirit of the original but adds plenty of humorous twists and a spunky, intelligent female lead.

Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner

Obedience. That was her curse. Upon birth, the fairy Lucinda bestowed the gift of obedience on Ella, which very nearly wrecked her life. Fortunately for her, two-chinned, frizzy-haired Mandy was more than the housekeeper, cook and nanny. While Mandy couldn't prevent problems for Ella, she was able to give her fairy gifts that enabled Ella to help herself. This "expansion" of the classic Cinderella tale will delight middle school readers with its magic, action, humor, drama, and hint of romance.

Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner

Obedience. That was her curse. Upon birth, the fairy Lucinda bestowed the gift of obedience on Ella, which very nearly wrecked her life. Fortunately for her, two-chinned, frizzy-haired Mandy was more than the housekeeper, cook and nanny. While Mandy couldn't prevent problems for Ella, she was able to give her fairy gifts that enabled Ella to help herself. This "expansion" of the classic Cinderella tale will delight middle school readers with its magic, action, humor, drama, and hint of romance.

Reader Reviews
jade

ella review
This book is a good inspirational book. I based my last project on this book and got an 'A'. A great book for kids and I think that all kids should get a chance to read it.

annonomous

Ella Enchanted
I simply love this book but the movie and the reviews are way off by many things. The book is great but it definitely can be confusing.

karli

4-good
That was a good book. That I cannot deny.

Eleanor

My Recommendation
Like the movie, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is a wonderful book for kids and adults. The story has a definite fairy tale feel, but it goes beyond the original Cinderella story with quirky characters and a strong female lead, one who doesn't ...   Read More

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