Austen’s Beauty & the Beast + Excerpt

Austen’s Beauty & the Beast + Excerpt

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Not too long ago, I posted about Jane Austen in the Age of Disney. I didn’t get into specifics about Disney characters, just a general overview of connecting fantasy with Jane Austen. Well, today I want to talk about Beauty and the Beast because I’m releasing a Regency Paranormal Beauty and the Beast retelling in October!

I think Belle, as portrayed in the Disney film, is the most Austen-like of Disney characters. She’s too smart for her small town. She loves to read and is devoted to her father. Belle is without pretension about class and wealth, doesn’t fall for the sexist good looking guy and discovers a warm heart under a gruff exterior in the Beast.

Now, the Disney version is notably different than the original story. And as an author who would prefer to not be sued by the mouse-eared lawyers, I tried to stay clear of Disney influences. The basic premise, however, of seeing good character underneath the less than charming and handsome exterior then falling in love, is the cornerstone of any Beauty and the Beast story and certainly remains so in mine.

Instead of being transformed into a beast, I chose to keep my hero fully human. He does have a terrible curse, however. He is homebound, and the Castle is enchanted. Most people see a terribly scarred man. And sadly, that is what dear Leo sees in the enchanted mirror as well. He also has deep emotional scars. His parents never loved him, nor did his wife. He’s been told all his life he’s unlovable and in turn has become selfish and vain.

While I think Disney borrowed from Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet rather heavily to create Belle, my Arabella Beauley would be closer to a cross between Jane Bennet and Elinor Dashwood with a sprinkle of Catherine Morland. However, she’s no shrinking violet! After her mother died, her family relies on Bella. She endeavors to only see the best in those she loves. Arriving at Sundridge Castle, Bella is meant to be a governess but soon becomes embroiled with understanding the curse on its residents.

No servants turn into daily objects in my story. However, a daily object is now a person. Instead of a rose to mark the time until the Beast’s twenty-first birthday, my rose is a little girl; his wife’s illegitimate daughter. If Leo does not find true love before her sixth birthday, he is cursed to die.

As the years go by, Leo has accepted his fate. No one will love him. He is then left with the dilemma of what to do with his deceased wife’s child—assumed by Society to be his own. This, rather than the hope of returning to human form is the crux of the conflict for the story. I think Jane Austen would approve. Love for fellow man is what makes us truly human rather than beast-like. Looks and prejudices can be quite deceitful.

Interested in a snippet? This is part of the Prologue to Beauty’s Mirror, appearing in a duet set with Jenni James next month!

 

beautys-mirror-2Prologue

“You’re a monster, Erroll! You never loved me!”

“Celia, come down from there. Be reasonable,” Leonard Sundridge, third duke of Erroll called up to his deranged wife. Her behavior had become increasingly erratic since the birth of her child less than two years ago. She now stood on the railing of the master staircase of his ancestral home. If she slipped, her death would be immediate.

“Tell me I’m wrong!”

“You’re wrong,” Leo said as calmly as he could.

She immediately smiled, but he was lying, of course. Love had nothing to do with their marriage. She married him to become a duchess, and he married her because of her political connections. Now, however, he would lie on his father’s grave to end the scene unfolding. The problem, however, was that this scene unfolded nearly daily. Celia’s demands ever increasing and unattainable.

“Then you’ll let me go to Desmond’s dinner?”

“Anything you want. Just come down,” Leo pleaded.

Lady Erroll obliged. As her bare feet touched the plush carpet she suddenly looked every inch the regal duchess Leo married two years ago. Holding her head high, she walked off to ready herself for her lover’s dinner.

After the first incident, Leo had stood rooted in place, panting for breath and trembling with fear, anger, and embarrassment as servants swirled around him to clean up the mess of broken vases her tantrum had caused. This time, he turned and walked steadily to his study. After arriving, he pulled the servant bell, and his housekeeper appeared a moment later.

“Your Grace?”

“Tell your husband to do it tonight, Mrs. Potter.”

“As you wish,” she said and dropped a curtsy.

 

Read more on my blog!

21 Responses to Austen’s Beauty & the Beast + Excerpt

  1. Loved the excerpt’ will add to my TBR list. Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite fairytale and I like the comparison to JA characters.

  2. I have always loved Beauty and the Beast…not sure why we gravitate to that story line. Is it the damaged hero, bad boy danger or simply a love that traverses all obstacles?

    • I think what I first loved about Beauty and the Beast was 1) Belle had brown hair and 2) loved to read. I had a book version of the Disney tale that was 100 pages exactly and one summer I read it every day. I think I was eight.

      Now that I’m older, I do love the transformative power of love, and a love that grows over time and because of substance rather than an instant feeling upon first sight. I’m less comfortable with writing bad boys, and so Leo isn’t so bad…at least to Bella.

    • Wouldn’t you know it, now I’m considering doing many different fairy tales in this fashion. This cover is just what I made for posting on my blog and Wattpad. The duet will have another cover, which I think is much better. I’ll let you know when I have a release date!

      • Sounds like a great plan! More is always better, at least where writing books are concerned. 😉

        I love this cover so much I can’t imagine something better, but I know you can do it, Rose, because all your covers are fantastic! Yes, be sure to send me the final so I can share on the blog. 🙂

  3. I have been following this as a WIP and enjoying it. Beauty and the Beast is perhaps my favorite fairy tale as they fall in love with what is inside not the physical features. Thanks for sharing.

    • Is it any wonder that Beauty and the Beast was written by a woman, then? It’s not one of the very, very old fairy tales, according to my research, so it’s not as filled with as many problematic issues. For example, I began reading up about Sleeping Beauty and there are many early versions where the princess is raped in her sleep and then goes on to fall in love with the man etc. I still think there are issues in Beauty and the Beast, that when done thoughtfully make a case for Stockholm Syndrome, but I find I can alter that more sensitively than kissing or sleeping with an unconscious/dead girl.

  4. Oooohhhh…I can’t wait to read this!! I was reading a chapter from a Joyce Meyer book this morning that addresses a similar thing–how we perceive ourselves and talk to/about ourselves is how we end up treating others. I can see this at work in your description of Leo.

  5. What a dramatic beginning! It’s great! It definitely makes the reader want to turn the page.

    I do think Belle would be one of the most Jane Austen style heroines, especially of the earlier Disney-ed works. The little mermaid is also more strong willed. It isn’t Sleeping Beauty’s, Cinderella’s or Snow White’s fault, of course. They’re a product of the times. Odd, though, how Jane Austen was breaking that mold in her day, yet women were still stuck with ‘meek is all things good and beautiful’ for so many years to come. Fortunately, Disney’s been getting further and further away from that. I suppose all women are lucky Frozen was such a success, thoroughly breaking the mold, even if we all had to have that song stuck in our heads for years (sorry! I know, I just made it come back!).

    • I love that Austen was a female writing about females and for females (although obviously men can and do like Austen as well– the Prince Regent did!). In my Disney post, I talked about the difference between protagonists and heroines. Even Austen wrote about the already perfect women that don’t really need to “grow”–ie Jane Bennet. So, I’m less annoyed that Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White aren’t very complex characters and already have the character of saints (and keeping in mind that Fairy Tales are obviously targeted to children) but I love seeing female heroines that go on a character journey and come out changed now.

      As for the Frozen song, I have a 3 year old daughter. It’s been all Frozen all the time for years now! Thanks for commenting.

  6. Oh, my! What an excerpt that only has me looking for more. I love your description of what the fairy tale means to you. I agree that ‘a beast’ is on the inside, it can be on the outside as well, as Erroll is a beast both in the inside and the outside

    • A large part of Leo’s “beast” is his perception of himself. And other’s perception as well. We’ll see more of that in the enchanted mirror. This is a novella but I did try to put in quite a bit of character growth for Leo and Bella.

Your thoughts are precious!