The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold

The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold


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With language that is both lyrical and distinctly her own, Francesca Lia Block turns nine fairy tales inside out.

Escaping the poisoned apple, Snow frees herself from possession to find the truth of love in an unexpected place.

A club girl from L.A., awakening from a long sleep to the memories of her past, finally finds release from its curse.

And Beauty learns that Beasts can understand more than men.

Within these singular, timeless landscapes, the brutal and the magical collide, and the heroine triumphs because of the strength she finds in a pen, a paintbrush, a lover, a friend, a mother, and finally, in herself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064407458
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/07/2001
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 790,967
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Francesca Lia Block, winner of the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award, is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling books, including Weetzie Bat; the book collections Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books and Roses and Bones: Myths, Tales, and Secrets; the illustrated novella House of Dolls; the vampire romance novel Pretty Dead; and the gothic werewolf novel The Frenzy. Her work is published around the world.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


When she was born her mother was so young, still a girl herself, still didn't know what to do with her. She screamed and screamed--the child. Her mother sat crying in the garden. The gardener came by to dig up the sod. It was winter. The child was frost-colored. The gardener stood before the cold winter sun, blocking the light with his broad shoulders. The mother looked like a broken rose bush.

Take her please, the mother cried. The gardener sat beside her. She was shaking. The child would not stop screaming. When the mother put her in his arms, the child was quiet.

Take her, the mother said. I can't keep her. She will devour me.

The child wrapped her tiny fingers around the gardener's large brown thumb. She stared up at him with her eyes like black rose petals in her snowy face. He said to the mother, Are you sure? And she stood up and ran into the house, sobbing.

Are you sure are you sure? She was sure. Take it away, she prayed, it will devour me.

The gardener wrapped the child in a clean towel and put her in his truck and drove her west to the canyon. There was no way he could keep her himself, was there? (He imagined her growing up, long and slim, those lips and eyes.) No, but he knew who could.

The seven brothers lived in a house they had built themselves, built deep into the side of the canyon among the trees. They had built it without chopping down one tree, so it was an odd-shaped house with towers and twisting hallways and jagged staircases. It looked like part of the canyon itself, as if it hadsprung up there. It smelled of woodsmoke and leaves. From the highest point you could see thesea lilting and shining in the distance.

This was where the gardener brought the child. He knew these men from work they had all done together on a house by the ocean. He was fascinated by the way they worked. They made the gardener feel slow and awkward and much too tall. Also, lonely.

Bear answered the door. Like all the brothers he had a fine, handsome face, burnished skin, huge brown eyes that regarded everyone as if they were the beloved. lie was slightly heavier than the others and his hair was soft, thick, close cropped. He shook the gardener's hand and welcomed him inside, politely avoiding the bundle in the gardener's arms until the gardener said, I don't know where to take her.

Bear brought him into the kitchen where Fox, Tiger, and Buck were eating their lunch of vegetable stew and rice, baked apples and blueberry gingerbread. They asked the gardener to join them. When Bear told them why he was there, they allowed themselves to turn their benevolent gazes to the child in his arms. She stared back at them and the gardener heard an unmistakable burbling coo coming from her mouth.

Buck held her in his muscular arms. She nestled against him and closed her eyes-dark lash tassels. Buck looked down his fine, sculpted nose at her and whispered, Where does she come from?

The gardener told him, From the valley, her mother can't take care of her. He said he was afraid she would be hurt if he left her there. The mother wasn't well. The brothers gathered around. They knew then that she was the love they had been seeking in every face forever before this. Bear said, we will keep her. And the gardener knew he had done the right thing bringing her here.

The other brothers, Otter, Lynx, and Ram, came home that evening. They also loved her right away, as if they had been waiting forever for her to come. They named her Snow and gave her everything they had.

Bear and Ram built her a room among the trees overlooking the sea. Tiger built her a music-box cradle that rocked and played melodies. Buck sewed her lace dresses and made her tiny boots like the ones he and his brothers wore. They cooked for her, the finest, the healthiest foods, most of which they grew themselves, and she was always surrounded by the flowers Lynx picked from their garden, the candles Fox dipped in the cellar, and the melon scented soaps that Otter made in his workroom.

She grew up there in the canyon--the only Snow. It was warm in the canyon most days--sometimes winds and rains but never whiteness on the ground. She was their Snow, unbearably white and crystal sweet. She began to grow into a woman and although sometimes this worried them a bit-they were not used to women, especially one like this who was their daughter and yet not--they learned not to be afraid, how to show her as much love as they had when she was a baby and yet give her a distance that was necessary for them as well as for her. As they had given her everything, she gave to them--she learned to hammer and build, cook, sew, and garden. She could do anything. They had given her something else, too--the belief in herself, instilled by seven fathers who had had to learn it. Sometimes at night, gathered around the long wooden table finishing the peach-spice or apple-ginger pies and raspberry tea, they would tell stories of their youth--the things they had suffered separately when they went out alone to try the world. The stories were of freak shows and loneliness and too much liquor or powders and the shame of deformity. They wanted her to know what they had suffered but not to be afraid of it, they wanted her to have everything--the world, too. And to be able to return to them, to safety, whenever she needed. They knew, though, she would not suffer as they had suffered. She was perfect. They were scarred.

The Rose and the Beast. Copyright © by Francesca Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.


A Conversation with Francesca Lia Block

Q. What first gave you the idea to take fairy stories and to retell them in a whole new way?

A. I have always loved fairy tales, and when I was looking around for ideas for a new book it seemed natural that I turn to these stories as an inspiration. At the same time, I wanted to make them new because I find contemporary settings very dynamic and because so many of the themes are very relevant to my life. I had just gone through some difficult things, and I didn't want to deal with them directly. It was easier to use a universal story structure as a way to express deeply personal experiences.

Q. How did you choose which fairy tales to retell?

A. I just started writing, using the stories that had the most significance for me and that I remembered best. Then I reread some others to refresh my memory and to use as source material.

Q. How did you "get to know" the characters of these fairy tales?

A. I put myself into the character, imagining how I would feel if I were Tiny or if my life were threatened or if I found a lost love. Then I just kept writing and something magical happened. The characters began to take on their own voices, to create their own situations. I can't fully explain it but I think it has to do with freeing up the unconscious mind, not censoring what comes, listening. I also believe that this alchemy attests to the universal potency of the original stories.

Q. What is the most challenging part of being a writer for you?

A. In the past, it was spending so much time alone -- because even though I enjoy writing, I got somewhat lonely. Now that I have a baby, it is finding the time to write! Also, it can be very exposing and it can hurt to be judged when you express your most personal realities.

Q. We are all told fairy tales as children but remain fascinated by them even as adults. Why do they wrest their way into our psyche like this?

A. The elements of love and terror that fill fairy tales are so primal.

Q. What would you say to someone who dismissed fairy stories as "old-fashioned" or "childish"?

A. I almost hate to answer this because I don't feel it necessary to defend stories that have haunted our collective imagination with their passion from childhood through adulthood for centuries.

Q. When you write -- particularly in a book such as The Rose and the Beast -- to what extent are you telling a story with all the magic and lyricism that is part of storytelling; and to what extent are you using that story as a metaphor to express a deeper truth or message?

A. I usually begin with the poetry of the language and by trying to create vivid characters. Later, certain truths are revealed to me, and I often go back and work on bringing them out more fully in the story. In some ways, starting with the fairy tales made my job easier because the truths are already inherent in the original work. I just had to find a way to apply it to my life.

Q. Your language is imbued with the richness of life -- not the possessions, the "want to collect" like the sisters in "Glass" -- but the richness of sense and experience: the "curtains of dawn," the rose "open, glowing, pink, white, fragrant ...," the sense of freedom smelled on one's skin. Do you feel this, and is it only people who are alive to this who can touch the "magic" of possibility?

A. For me, magic comes out of fully experiencing the sensory world, I believe that love is the ultimate magic wand and love's spirituality can be found in a flower, the sky, a work of art, a baby.

Q. Finally, what are you working on now? Are there more fairy tales to come?

A. No more fairy tales right now. I just finished a book called echo that is a novel told in short stories. I am also developing a series for MTV called Shadow Grove. And I'm writing about my daughter whenever I get the chance.
Q&A courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.

Customer Reviews

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The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW! What a poorly written book, I couldnt get past the first two stories, the "book" is only 66 pgs and it was almost $10, it hope my money helps this writer get a proper education.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this I thought I was going to like it but it was terrible. She put so many curse words into the book. She puts rape into it. I agree with the other reviews. I only read half because the fairytales just go worse. I am also suprised that alot of the reviwers hated it too. If you lik fairytale books read Donna Jo Napoli or the Once Upon a time Series. Do Not read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read fairy tale retellings alot because I love the old tales. Usually I also like the retellings...I was seventeen when I read the book, and after three stories I put the book down. The content of the stories made me wonder at first if the book had been put in the wrong section, it belonges in the adult section. The book takes beautiful stories and makes them bad and trashy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought I was going to read a good version of the stories, instead I was reading trash! As a writer, why do you condone these types of actions especially for younger children. I'm not a child, and I'm not a prude, but I was so disgusted with the book, I tore it in little pieces, and threw it in the trash where it belonged!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't like this book. But I find Block's writing to be 'either you love it or you hate it' type of stuff. This book was very trashy. It was not magical at all as I expected it to be. It wasn't even creative. Just trash, filth. I almost cried, because all the childhood stories were simply RUINED. And like other reviewers have said, it definitely tones down the seriousness of most of the issues mentioned in this book! Ridiculous. I do NOT reccomend this book. I've read Weetzie Bat, though, and that was simply a work of art. And all the books in that series. If you've only read this book from Block, I reccomend to not give up on her and check out a Weetzie Book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved it! yes, as a teen I still do love those dreamy, fairytales that you can get lost in. But in Block's way of telling the stories you can look at them in a different view, knowing there is a happily ever after in your own state of mind, not in a nonrealistic book. I think people could relate to at least one of the nine stories in some way, shape, or form. I loved this book, and not once did i ever think of the story literally, I tried to imagine the story deep within the text.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was horrible! Her demented and perverted mind bent all the beautiful stories I know and love into horrible mangled pieces of garbage. I don't think it's creative, intelligent, or 'artsy' in any way. It's complete garbage. Forgive me for not being particularly moved by bestiality and drug abuse, never mind that she completely negates the seriousness of rape and encourages promiscuity. She's filth, as far as I'm concerned. The only use for this book is kindling or potty training a new puppy.
Lovely-Dovely More than 1 year ago
I first read The Rose and the Beast when I was in seventh grade. I was a pretty sheltered child, and in 7th grade I was just learning about sex and rape and drugs and murder. I read said book thinking I was gonna get a treat like Donna Jo Napoli's Beast--- a beautiful, different telling of my favorite fairy tale. OH NO. This book was filled with sex, something that was then foreign and very dirty. My favorite fairy tales were ripped apart by the things that MADE them fairy tales. A world without sex without love, murder without justice, and mostly only good people. And so I threw it out of my mind. that I've read it again, I LOVE IT. This book calls to the dark side of us that know fairy tales and the real world are two completely different things. And yet, there's something tragically poetic and emotionally stirring in these cryptic tales. At least give it a shot. You never know!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like fairy tales, don't read this. It rips them to shreads in the worst way possible. I especially do not recomend it to anyone under the age of 18. Disgusting, dishonorable and dissapointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this author and everything she does. These remixed stories are nothing but amazing
AnnBKeller More than 1 year ago
At times, this book was truly wonderful, a unique perspective on some of our most famous fairy tales such as Snow White, Thumbelina and Beauty and the Beast. I was enchanted and could have recommended this book to young adults. It might have provided them with an alternative read to embrace. Then the swear words and references to drugs and alcohol began. I realize that some men and women choose to revel in this culture, destroying themselves and others around them. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t expose our youth to these cold, bitter alternatives. The lovely cover belies the treachery found within. I regret selecting this book and wish the author would have stuck to the good road instead.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loooooooove it
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Rose and the Beast, Francesca Lia Block, is an intriguing short story book with nine different childhood stories rewritten to relate to the darker side of the 20th century. Each story uses a key part of the original fairy tale and adds a twist. Each of the nine stories is different and shocking in its own way which makes the book exciting to read. The author did a great job going into the story and each character and making it her own. My favorite of the short stories would have to be ¿Tiny¿ and ¿Beast¿. I enjoyed ¿Tiny¿ because it had a happy ending and it kept me guessing until the end. It was related to Thumbelina, but instead of using a bad guy, she makes her own choices to leave and leads herself into danger. ¿Beast¿ was also one of my favorites because although it didn't have a happy ending, it showed there can be good in all of us and turned the good ending of Beauty and the Beast into a sad ending that makes you want to try to be a better person because of people you love. My least favorite story, although hard to choose, would be ¿Ice¿ because of the heartbreak and betrayal throughout the whole story. I would highly recommend this book to mature readers that would like something new and entertaining that will keep them on the edge of their seats. Each story is written with such detail, I could imagine everything happening. Although shocking, each story has one¿s own personal moral and meaning behind the dark humor and leaves you wanting more. Young female, fantasy seekers, looking for an exciting book that uses fairy tales from childhood will not be dissatisfied with The Rose and the Beast. The tales turn each story into impacting and detailing shorter ones. This book earns high recommendation from this reviewer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fairy tales arentstorys for happily ever after! Thats Disneys portayal of them. Fairy tales where created to teach children about life and love. And that in every hardship there is happiness to be found. The original fairy tales have been written and rewritten to be just happily ever after mush, instead of the life lessons they where originaly ment to be. These versions of the fairy tales teach teens that the things that are deemd 'cool'and 'fun' have a harsh reality. Sort of a backwards motion then the original fairy tale's. What many seem to find 'filthy' and 'trashy'is just harsh realitys. Not the magical mystic made up world of happily ever after, but the reality oir practical thinking and truth. Those who hate it are just mad that they where shown not every story has a happy ending. Or, they are mad because they bought it for their 12 year old expecting it to be disney material. I recommend this book for 14 and above. Fairy tales think outside the box, this book thinks outside the box of the every day 'once apon a time'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like this book, I dont know why it is concidered a childs book, because it is more of a teen book. Fairy tales where originaly stories to teach children lessons. These tales teach skeptical teens more mature lessons. Fairys and witches dont bother the more matured mind. But the realitys of Drugs and sex do.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good! I don¿t know what people are talking about when they say this book wasn¿t good. Francesca Lia Block gives a good modern twist to each of these stories. Cause we have to face reality. Reality isn¿t always a happy ending. People die because of drugs! People do get abused! I know this is only my opinion but if there were more of these types of books out there then it would be considered a book that people would often buy. Not only does this book display realistic ideas this book was written very artistically. And I love the portrayals of little kid fairytales becoming something that teens can read at their level. I would recommend this to anyone over the age of 12. Younger kids would not understand this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't think this book was that good. I mean, it had description and good images, but it didn't appeal to me that much. There was swearing, drugs, rape, and many other things that I think shouldn't have been there. But overall it was ok.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Franscesca Lia Block proves once again that she remains one of the best storytellers of my time, through this re-writing of fairytales. The thing to remember is that before fairytales were adapted into bedtime stories, they were extremely dark and morbid. Block captures their essence perfectly, in a way that young adults can relate to. Block tackles forbidden subject matters such as rape, incest, murder, and homosexuality, twisting them into an intricate string of lyrical words that add to the storylines and don't take them away. Only a pure genius can do that, and Block is certainly one. This book is a study of unique and brilliant storytelling, and it's not just for teens. Read it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved the book and read it all in one day 2 times. but most books would never mention murder, rape, or drugs in fairy tales. i thought it was kinda awesome kuz it was so real. and i cant really place which fairy tales is which though. can someone clarify that for me?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw this book when my friend was reading it. I read the first few pages and I almost immeadietly loved it. So...I bought it, read it, and re-read it. The book is ridiculously awesome. With each story, Block makes it more enticing by the way she describes everything and how she twists the traditional fairy tales. You must read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Realistic modern versions of classic farie tales. When i first bought this book i was about, oh... 14. Unwise to the world and all of its difference, the raw truth in this book disgusted me and i thought mrs. block had butchered classic tales. But i picked it up about a year ago and i loved it. So moral of the story, if you cant accept what is going on in the world, this book is not for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Rose And The Beast was a great book. The book retold all the most common child fairy tales in a way that would be nowadays. The book still has all the happy endings. I wouldn't recommend it for a child under 8th grade though. The book but terms and phrases is adult terms. I am a high school freshman and I really enjoyed this great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All of Francesca Lia Block's books are filled with transcendental flowery prose that makes you fall in love with the magical worlds she creates. In this book, she may not have created these fairy tales, but she has made them her own. Each story grows more amazing, as the alteration to the stories makes them relateable, modern. If you are a fan of hers, you will love what she has done. If you are a fan of fairy tales, you may have a harder time accepting the gritty, intense changes she has made to old favorites. You may find it more enjoyable if you read one of her other books first to acclimate yourself with her vision....and fall in love with her style.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Francesca Lia Block can wax poetic with the best of them. This book is absolutely beautiful. I took away one star because one of my pet peeves is run-on sentences, and Block uses a lot of them. But the content is superb. My only suggestion would be that Francesca's work not be placed in the childrens' books section, as her topics are more adult-oriented.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Francesca Lia Block book i had ever read was quite impressed I recommend her books to anyone who wnjoys magic. Her wonderfully written. You can just imagine yourself in the setting feeling the characters strong emotions. Her stories include struggles,love with reality mixed in to the point you could cry. The way she arranges the words they flow together. An ellentant read for young Adults all over- Lauren St. John