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While Beauty Slept | [Elizabeth Blackwell]

While Beauty Slept

I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told.And so begins Elise Dalriss's story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel's tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered-and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago. Her story unveils a labyrinth where secrets connect to an inconceivable evil. As only Elise understands all too well, the truth is no fairy tale...
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Publisher's Summary

I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. And so begins Elise Dalriss's story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel's tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered - and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago. Her story unveils a labyrinth where secrets connect to an inconceivable evil. As only Elise understands all too well, the truth is no fairy tale...

©2014 Elizabeth Blackwell (P)2014 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Blackwell, previously a reporter and romance writer, makes her historical fiction debut with a gripping tale full of romance, secrets, and promises made and broken. This beautiful, original reinterpretation of a classic story is engrossing and often surprising." (Library Journal Starred Review)

"Narrator Wanda McCaddon clearly understands the emotional arc of Blackwell's story and gives a moving performance." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (144 )
5 star
 (55)
4 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.9 (136 )
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Story
4.3 (134 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Yoshi Yoshitani 06-19-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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    "A Great Fairytale Revamp! Very Very Dark"

    I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say this: surprisingly depressing.

    The best parts of this story are the characters. Every character is motivated by complex and completely relatable experiences. No decision ever seemed innately flawed, it's really easy to understand, but the series of choices leads to some dark situations.

    I will warn you, this book is not for the faint of heart. It is not light hearted at all. But if you can get through it, it is very very good. It left me with all sorts of feelings for days

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret SYRACUSE, NY, United States 03-12-14
    Margaret SYRACUSE, NY, United States 03-12-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved it right up to the end"

    This re-envisioned telling of Sleeping Beauty satisfied both my need for depth in details and well done characters. Only the end, while the logical conclusion given the characters, felt like a let down. Perhaps it is just a matter of too much happy ending and not enough fulfillment of duty for my Puritanical soul.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RueRue 06-03-14
    RueRue 06-03-14

    RueRue

    HELPFUL VOTES
    177
    ratings
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    152
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    "A Different Sleeping Beauty"
    Would you consider the audio edition of While Beauty Slept to be better than the print version?

    Wanda McCaddon's narration was wonderful and brought the story to life


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked this updated, revisionist interpretation of a fairy tale. The story retained the feel of a fairy tale but also had scenes of devastation and poverty that gave it realism


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes, there were several emotional moments. ( I don't want to give any spoilers)


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 12-09-14
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 12-09-14 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fairy Tale Twist"

    This is a nice retreat of Sleeping Beauty with some very lifelike twists. It's a pleasant read. Enjoy!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Eckert 11-13-14
    K. Eckert 11-13-14 Member Since 2004

    Devourer of all books fantasy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well done historical fairy tale retelling"

    This was a very well done fairy tale retelling that is done as historical fiction with no magic. This was really well written and I enjoyed it a lot.

    I listened to this on audiobook the audiobook was read by a narrator with a heavy and rich English accent which worked very well for this story. It was a great listening experience.

    The book starts with our main character, Elise Dalriss, recounting the true tale of Sleeping Beauty to her great granddaughter. Elise was raised on a poor farm and when her family was decimated by the pox, she left and went to the castle to seek a position there. Through a series of coincidences she finds herself as the Queen’s Handmaiden shortly after arriving and the object of scorn of many other castle servants because of her quick rise in rank. However the Queen’s life has been plagued by sadness, the Queen is barren and would do anything to give the King of heir. Elisa finds herself the Queen’s closest confidant and witness to the hopes and devastations of a kingdom.

    More than anything this book is a historical fiction. Although it is occasionally hinted at that the two elder sisters, Maleficent and Flora, might have beyond human powers that is mostly seen as superstition of the servants. There are no magic faeries or bitter curses here, just a bitter scheming old woman and the horribly contagious disease of the pox.

    Elise is an interesting character. She is ambitious, although she doesn’t realize her drive until later in the story, and loyal to a fault. She time and time again chooses her duty to the Queen over her own happiness. It was interesting to read about a level-headed character that always chooses duty over her own needs. Elise’s survival of the pox at a young age also makes her resistant to the disease which puts her in an interesting position.

    Elise does not have a wide circle of companions. She has an aunt in the city she converses with and eventually meets a young cobbler’s apprentice that she is drawn to. But her main duty is the Queen, and Elise spends all her time by the Queen’s side.

    The story takes place over a number of years. We read about Elise as a child and about her early years in the castle. We also read about Elise in her upper 20’s when she finally marries and again in her 30’s. The beautiful thing about this story is how it shows the changes that can befall a person’s life so swiftly and how little control you have over certain things. I was also struck by how isolated the ladies in waiting are at times. They do not know anything about the world beyond the castle walls and are mostly content to just do their day to day duties.

    The book does a good job of retelling Sleeping Beauty without magic in a way that is historically probable and could have actually happened. Beauty, the Queen’s daughter, actually isn’t the focus of most of the book. Her isolation in a tower is not at all what you are expecting, but it makes sense. This story shows how much more could be involved in a story like Sleeping Beauty and looks at an origin for that fairy tale that sounds surprisingly plausible.

    There are a couple of points where the story gets a bit slow. However, for the most part it was engaging and well paced. The writing is very beautiful and I was able to easily imagine the characters and surroundings.

    Overall I really enjoyed this historical fiction retelling of Sleeping Beauty. This retelling is enchanting and incredibly engaging, I really loved how a plausible and realistic historical story retells this famous fairy tale. Highly recommended to those who love historical fiction and/or fairy tale retellings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone Spranger 10-22-14
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    "Fun listen"
    Any additional comments?

    Yes, this is a darker version of the fairy tale, but it wasn't too dark or dirty like other re-tellings. I ended the book wishing there was more, but knowing there couldn't be...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-30-14 Member Since 2006
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    1
    1
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    "Engaging"
    What did you like best about this story?

    Interesting take on Sleeping Beauty. This story unfolded bit by bit, which kept me very engaged. Narrarator was wonderful.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 06-12-14
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 06-12-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Bad Writing"

    I plodded through 5 hours of the first-person 'narrative,' thinking that any minute the story would 'start,' but simply couldn't take it anymore. Zero character development. Zero originality (I like these sorts of fantasies so the plot seemed to have promise when I read the publisher's summary, but the characters behave along extremely stereotypical lines). The combination made for a very boring listen. I am planning to get my credit back.

    Skip this one and read "Enchantment" by Orson Scott Card.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
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