Ella Enchanted (Newbery Honor Book)

by Gail Carson Levine

Hardcover, 1997

Call number




HarperCollins (1997), Edition: 1st, 240 pages


In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jmchshannon
I have seen the movie and was utterly charmed by it. So, like any bibliophile, I figured I would have to check out the original. I was not disappointed. Thankfully, I was warned that the movie is nothing like the book, so there were no surprises there to distract me from the book itself.

This book
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is simply...enchanting. I read it during a bout of insomnia in the course of a few hours. It kept my interest and may have even contributed to my lack of sleepiness that night. The book itself moves away from all the mythical creatures and focuses on Ella's interactions with people as well as her struggles to overcome the curse. Her attraction to Prince Char starts out strictly as friendship, which is as it should for a fifteen-year-old. The quest itself is not limited to a physical journey but expands into an emotional one as well, which is also appropriate for a fifteen-year-old girl.

Ms. Levine weaves quite a story through mythical Frell and other lands. Ella's curse also makes her strong, as she struggles her entire life to break it. Through her struggles, the reader becomes involved in cheering her on and empathizing with her because, let's face it, we have all been forced to do something we don't want to do at some point in time. It is this fact which makes Ella so compelling. Her gift of obedience and her struggles to break the curse symbolize childhood and our growth into adults as we go from obeying our parents to making our own choices. Set to the backdrop of a a fairy tale, this age-old struggle takes on new life.

I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a quick, light summer read. It is great for young and young at heart, boys and girls. (I say that because I took this out of my son's personal library.)
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LibraryThing member lisa211
This is one of the great fairy tales alternative stories available out there, and this ones is based on the famous Cinderella tale with a twist. This is written in a post modern style of writing, making it easier to actually connect to the characters and much more enjoyable for the young adults to
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above ages to actually enjoy for what used to be just a children's fairy tale. The first time I'd picked this book up, I can't seem to put it down. It's humorous and a page turner.

The main character is Ella of Frell, who had been given the 'gift' of obedience (more of a curse) by a fairy named Lucinda, giving her no choice but to obey anybody who orders her around ever since she was a baby. The only ones other than her mother who knows about it is Mandy, their cook who is also Ella's fairy godmother, who has this thing againt doing any Big magic, which irked Ella most of the time due to her 'gift'.

When her mother died, her father remarried to Dame Olga who has two selfish idiotic daughters, Hattie and Olive, who sort of figure out they could take advantage of Ella's little flaw, though very clueless why she's easily to be made as their own personal slave. Then there's Prince Char, the heir of the kingdom. Both Ella and Char enjoyed each other's company many times they are together and apart. But of course the 'gift' had come to its worse moments in this book for Ella in the sense of relationship with others. She tried whatever it takes to track Lucinda to take 'gift' back.

Oh, if you're expecting it to be just like the movie, forget it. You be surprised of how different they are from each other in plot wise. But nevertheless, I've enjoyed both version.
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LibraryThing member bragan
After hearing a 20-something of my acquaintance casually refer to a scene in Ella Enchanted (either the book or the movie version, I'm not sure which) as if she expected it to be something everyone would automatically be familiar with, I realized that this story had slipped itself into the canon of
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children's classics while I wasn't looking. And having now read it, I can absolutely see why. It entirely deserves it.

The story follows Ella, the daughter of a wealthy but unscrupulous merchant, who at her birth has a "gift" bestowed on her by a well-meaning but very stupid fairy: the "gift of obedience." From then on, she cannot refuse a direct command given to her by anyone, for any reason. Which, if you stop to think about it for a moment (as the story most certainly does) is an utterly horrific idea.

While it's not obvious from that description (and, indeed, a lot of the relevant elements don't come into play until near the end), this is basically a retelling of Cinderella. But it's a marvelous, original, and wonderfully creative one. The world, rather than being Generic Fairy Tale Land is one with its own history and cultures, and its own variants on the usual fantasy creatures. The love story is charming and believable and based on a real meeting of minds, rather than being the usual kind of vacuous fairy tale romance. And the main character is spirited and likeable and feels very much like a real person. At some point towards the end, I realized I was basically sitting on the edge of my seat with tension, desperately hoping everything would work out all right for her. Which is kind of crazy. I mean, it's Cinderella. I know how Cinderella ends! But I was that caught up, and that invested in her happiness. And the climax, when it comes, is a marvelous twist on the original tale that left a great big grin on my face. This is definitely the kind of fairy tale we should be giving 21st-century kids, and 21st-century adult me loved it a lot, too. Way more than I ever would have expected to.
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LibraryThing member rocalisa
Ella of Frell was given a fairy gift at her birth. At least, the fairy Lucinda thought it was a gift. Everyone else who knew about it, especially Ella, considered it a curse. Ella was given the gift of obedience. This means that any time she is given an order, no matter who orders it or what it is,
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she must obey.

This has little effect on her life at first, as her mother and their cook, Mandy, take great care no-one knows about the curse. Even her mother's death when Ella is eight, terrible though it is, doesn't not change life too much. And it is at her mother's funeral that Ella first meets Prince Char who comforts her as she grieves.

It is later, when her father first meets Dame Olga and her awful daughters Hattie and Olive that Ella's life changes for the worse. She is sent to finishing school with the other girls, and it is on the trip there that Hattie discovers that Ella must be anything she is ordered to do. From then on, Hattie makes Ella's life a misery until she detemines to find Lucinda and beg her to take back her gift.

As she struggles to find Lucinda, maintain her growing friendship with Char and survive Olga and her daughter, who become her stepfamily when her father remarries, Ella remains an enchanting and delightful heroine. All the important aspects of the traditional Cinderella story are here, but neatly woven into the story of a strong, endearing young woman who must obey, but that doesn't mean she's going to do it without a fight.

I read this after seeing the movie. The film was funny, silly, camp and fun to watch. However, I was fairly certain what I had just seen wasn't what Levine had envisioned when she wrote the book. I was right. It wasn't. The book is less sensational - no wicked uncles, assasination plots, modern references or bad puns. Instead, it is a delightful coming of age story of a young girl with an added difficulty to overcome. I can see in the book the seeds that the scriptwriters used to tell their own tale, but Levine's original story stands heads and shoulders about the film, which I personally think was highly influenced by the success of Shrek and its sequel.

If you want a good, easy to read, variation on the Cinderella story, Ella Enchated is an idea way to find one. Read it; you'll be enchanted.
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LibraryThing member StormRaven
Ella Enchanted is the story of a girl living in the kingdom of Frell who was blessed (or rather cursed) by the fairy Lucinda with the "gift" of obedience when she was an infant. As a result, she must obey any direct order given to her, which proves to be a significant handicap, especially when
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dealing with hungry ogres (who apparently can read one's mind), nasty stepsisters, or evil stepmothers.

Despite her handicap, Ella manages to be rebellious and strong-willed, concealing her weakness as best she can, and figuring out how to pervert the intent of orders given to her that she doesn't want to obey. On the way, she wins the heart of the prince of Frell (although she has to give him up, for fear that her curse will cause him trouble should htey get married), lives through many adventures and escapes, and generally makes her way in a world that isn't very kind to her.

As this is a fairy tale, in the end, Lucinda gets her comeuppance, and Ella's step-relatives are left behind when she breaks her curse. On the other hand, Lucinda's reform leaves the people she inflicted her "blessings" on as bad off as they were before, which is somehwat disturbing. Ella manages to break her curse in the end. The story does a good job of showing just how scary a world in which magic worked could be, even if that magic is well-intentioned.

The book is fairly linear, following Ella about - and at some points highlights the usefulness of Ella's curse: she is able to learn things quite quickly, provided someone tells her to do so. Being a teenager, she hates even this benefit, which makes her character feel all the more real, although she avoids becoming bitter or angry as a result of her condition. In Ella, one finds a heroine that is both admirable and relatable. Overall, this is one of the best books aimed at young girls that I have read. Recommended for any preteen girl.
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LibraryThing member WilowRaven
A cute youth fantasy / fairytale story. Ella was enchanted by a fairy at birth - cursed is more like it. She HAS TO obey any and every command she is given. Her mother tries to shield her but after she dies, Ella is at the mercy of her selfish father. The ending very much reads like Cinderella -
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with the glass slipper, fairy godmother, and pumpkin coach with mice horses. I would have liked more originality - considering how Ella herself was so unique. The extra fairy tale creatures were a nice touch. All in all - I really liked this story. 4 stars.
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LibraryThing member bunwat
This review applies to the audio version. Well I like the story, I like most of Gail Carson Levine's stuff and it did get me through the kitchen cleaning project. But I didn't love this audio version. It wasn't unbearable, just not great. Eden Riegel narrates and sounds about 13, although I believe
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she's in her twenties. Which was mostly okay for Ella, but not when the trolls and ogres and evil stepmothers and kings all sounded like thirteen year old girls too. I don't know, maybe younger listeners would like that the narrator sounds so young, but for me it was distracting. Particularly because she tended to go into an overpronounced and stilted sort of fake English accent when she was reading some of the older characters. Also the production included background music, but only part of the time, at what the producers clearly felt were particularly eventful or emotional moments which was again more of a distraction than an asset, I felt like they were telling me how to react instead of just letting the story carry its own weight. Like I say, it wasn't unlistenable, but definitely not my favorite.
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LibraryThing member TerriS
This 'Cinderella-inspired' story is cute and well-written. Ella is a young girl who is given the curse of "obedience" at birth. So when someone tells her to do something, she has to do it. Doesn't sound so bad until the wrong person/s find out that Ella has to do whatever they say -- then things
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start to get hairy. Of course, knowing the story of Cinderella, you know how it's going to end. But the journey, being different than the original, keeps you on your toes trying to figure it all out. It is written for 8-12 year olds, but I was thoroughly entertained!
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LibraryThing member StephBecker
Ella Enchanted is a story about character and freedom. Ella is trapped by her gift from her fairy godmother to obey orders. Her evil family uses that against her. A twist on Cinderella that has been fun to read! Funny twists and details in the story make it an awesome book. Everyone must read this!
LibraryThing member yearningtoread
Ella of Frell has never really known her father. She and her mother are best friends living a happy life with their Cook, Mandy, for company. But Ella is not your typical girl. She was given the gift of obedience as a baby from a fairy who never gives good gifts, even when she has the best of
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intentions. This gift means Ella must obey any and all orders - whether it be to sweep the floor, hop like a rabbit, or cut off her own head!
After Ella's mother dies, Ella must deal with her grief alone - for not only is her mother gone, but her father is sending her to finishing school with the two most horrid girls in the world - Hattie and Olive. She wishes she could stay in Frell, enjoying the menagerie and her new friend Prince Charmont, but her father, who knows nothing of her curse, has ordered her to go.
But Ella is not one to shy from adventure, or to bend the rules of her obedience charm. Ogres, elves, stepsisters, and possible true love wait in her future. If only she could find the fairy who gave her the curse in the first place...

My thoughts -
At first, it was hard not to compare this book to the movie, which I've seen about ten times. I still watch it every so often with my sisters to laugh and relive childhood memories, as silly as the movie is. I wanted the book to be different but...the same. Same characters, same order of events, same climax and turnout.

I got something completely different, and was at first surprised by this. I wasn't sure how much I liked it - it lacked the action and intensity I was expecting.
But I soon got over this and found myself in a fluffy, light, floating fairy-tale that involves more silly magic and character development than action. And then I was hit with the climax - and I went to my sister, who had already read the book, laughing and giggling and bursting about the story with her, while she tried to get me to stop hugging her with joy... ;)

In any case, I was so happy, by the end, to find how different and how much better this was from the movie, which I don't know if I'll ever watch again. How could they have ruined such a beautiful story?!

Character notes -
I really loved all these characters. They were three-dimensional and full of life and so different from each other. I admired Ella (even though I thought she cried a lot), despised Hattie, and said, "Poar Olive" every once in a while to get a good laugh. (Yes, I meant "poar".)

Prince Char, where to begin? He started as a boy, and grew into a man, lovable, tender, and loving. He lived up to my standards and definitely deserved this story's heroine!

Story notes -
Like I said before, I wasn't too happy with the lack of action and suspense...but it was hard to stay disappointed. I found myself enjoying the story just as much as I'd been hoping, just in a different way. It focused on Ella and how she came to be a woman, so whether this involved taming ogres or sewing for finishing school, it became an adventure. A few of the scenes weren't as well written or executed as the others, but the turnout of those scenes always made up for it.

My favorite scenes involved the love letters. Love letters always add the most touching and tender side to a story. I'm so glad this story had many!!

Summing it up -
Lively - like skipping by a lake in the cool spring breeze. I'm so glad to have gotten to know Ella, her friends, and even her enemies. I want to read more of Levine's novels now!

Nothing for the parents - 11+
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LibraryThing member Velvet-Moonlight
FIRSTLY, don't judge the story by what you saw on the silver screen! Their relation is hardly unrecognizable. Ella Enchanted [the novel] is full of adventure of a young girl taking destiny into her own hands, and along the way, falling in love with a prince. If you want to snuggle in the covers
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with a more modern tradition-styled fantasy book that will take you into the depths of their pages, read this and you'll be satisfied, guaranteed!
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LibraryThing member klarsenmd
This fun and fiesty take off on the classic children's tale is wonderfully paced and funny. The title character is a girl with a terrible curse, the "gift" of obedience. She manages to make her life her own and her adventure is great for children and adults alike. The moral of the story is a life
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lesson for everyone!
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LibraryThing member kewpie
Growing up, I had a hard time liking Cinderella. Why did she willingly slave away for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters? This book offered an excellent excuse for her. At birth, she was given the gift of obedience by a good intentioned fairy. Even though she is compelled to obey anyone who
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gives her a command, she is stubborn and strong willed. She has a gift for languages and she's kind hearted and intelligent. I was impressed that Levine could create such a likeable and independent minded Cinderella
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LibraryThing member ashleymcquirk
This is my all-time favorite book; I never tire of reading it and each time I find myself wondering if Ella might not get her true love even though I know the ending. This is a story about a girl who is put under a spell of obedience, meaning she must do whatever anyone commands her to do even if
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it means hurting someone or herself. Ella is forced to go to a boarding school where she makes her first friend, besides her fairy godmother. Ella also manages to become friends with Prince Charmont. Ella leaves her boarding school, encounters some elves, is captured by ogres and manages to escape the ogres. I won't tell the most interesting parts of the story but Ella is my favorite heroine in literature. She is clever, strong, witty, and brave. The story is very well written and as I said, is my favorite book ever. Levine writes the story so that you feel like Ella, you feel her pain when she tries to resist the curse, you feel her anger when her father thinks she needs to go to a boarding school. You feel the love between her and her grandmother and most importantly in the end you feel the power of the love between her and her beloved.
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LibraryThing member calmc296
"Ella Enchanted" is one of my all time favorite books. Not only is it a classic fairy tale remade, but it is suspensful, exciting, and gives you a different look at the fairy tale Cinderella.Gale Carson Levine said that Ella Enchanted was her version of Cinderella. Overall, I definatly ive this
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book five stars!
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LibraryThing member Ilithyia
Another book in the Levine fairytale world and I believe her first. This was a great reincarnation of Cinderella! I read this one because I loved the movie with Hugh Dancy (he's so hot) and Anne Hathaway. The book is completely different from the movie, but in a good way. I don't think the book
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wouldn't have made a good movie and the movie wouldn't have made a good book, but on their own they were both great.
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LibraryThing member Kateingilo
fun, imaginative, easy read. Annoying sections where the author uses her own made up languages.
LibraryThing member sparklegirl
I loooooved this book!! It has romance and is another version of Cinderella. It was nothing like the movie!
LibraryThing member cmbohn
I love fairy tales, and have since I was a little girl. My favorite has always been Cinderella. When I read this book, I was "enchanted." Haven't you always wondered why Cinderella kept being so nice to her stepmother and stepsisters? This story explains it all. I loved the character of Ella. She's
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not your typical princess, who waits to be rescued. She's independent and brave. My daughter got this for me for Christmas because she knew how much I loved it. It's a great one to read aloud as a family.
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LibraryThing member the1butterfly
Ella has gotten the prince and is in the castle as a princess in training, but she’s finding out that being a princess is boring and tedious, her story has become a far-fetched fairy tale, the prince she’s marrying is not what she’d hoped for, and that life is, if anything, worse than before.
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Now she finds herself in love with someone else and unable to escape. Through her own inginuity she digs out, hides, and makes it to the boy who she really does love and decides to marry.

I really loved this story, and the book had some things the movie didn't quite capture, such as the fact that this is a retelling of Cinderella. It was very well done.
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LibraryThing member ankhet
"Ella Enchanted" caught my attention from the moment it came out, and it's had a special place on my bookshelf ever since. I've always been interested in Cinderella stories, so when I saw "Ella Enchated" in the store, I knew I had to buy it. And buy it I did. I read through it in a matter of
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"Ella Enchanted" is a re-telling of the Cinderalla story set in a fantasy world of trolls and ogres and fairies that can do magic (but usually they don't). It follows the basic plot line of Cinderella: a girl is forced to do what her stepmother and stepsisters say until she can marry her prince. But from there out, Levine takes the story into her own world and puts her own spin on things.

If you've seen the move but haven't read this book, be warned: the scriptwriters for the movie drastically changed things. They kept the same basic principle, but changed the story almost entirely, and made the movie much more frivolous than the book. I encourage you to read this book, but don't start it expecting it to mirror the movie, or vice-versa.
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LibraryThing member shelley582
A dingbat fairy godmother gifts Ella with obedience - a curse she needs to work to overcome so it is not used against her. This is a wonderful tale of how Ella discovers her strengths.
LibraryThing member DSDragon
I read this book after I saw the movie. I have to say though, I love them both!
LibraryThing member snapplechick
Ella is a girl who has to do everything she's told. So, when she goes to try and break this "gift" she has some very interesting adventures.i liked this book a lot better than the movie and I really felt that I knew the characters.
LibraryThing member jrakeandlola
this book is a great book to read for girls that like the sort of books that are about romance and evil step sisters. it is about an adventure with ogres.


Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Middle Grade — 2000)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 2000)
Mythopoeic Awards (Finalist — Children's Literature — 1999)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Children's Fiction — 1999)
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2000)
Sasquatch Book Award (Nominee — 2000)
Buckeye Children's & Teen Book Award (Nominee — Grades 3-5 — 1999)
Newbery Medal (Honor Book — 1998)
Nutmeg Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2000)
Iowa Teen Award (Winner — 2000)
Nēnē Award (Nominee — 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — Teen — 1999)
Alabama Camellia Children's Choice Book Award (Winner — 3-5 — 1998-1999)
Golden Archer Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2000)
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Nominee — Grades 6-9 — 2000)
Maine Student Book Award (Winner — 1999)
Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 1998)
Read Aloud Indiana Book Award (Middle School — 1998)
Idaho Battle of the Books (Elementary — 2019)




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