The book, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast is, hands down, my favorite book of all time. It was published in 1978 by Robin McKinley (one of my favorite fantasy authors). Most of the RM books that I've read have all been so beautiful and lyrical and entertaining.
It's funny, though. Because to some people, I can see where it would be so boring. It's all written in Beauty's perspective, beginning with her family's terrible financial ruin in the city (after some unexpected storms take out her father's ships) to their move to the northern part of the country where wizards and dragons and mystical creatures are said to inhabit the forests. And it continues on to this beautiful telling of how she and the Beast come to know one another and the resulting fairy tale we all know and love.
But truly, if ever I am sick. If ever I am frustrated or sad or needing some companionship, this is one of the books at the top of my list that I turn to.
Beauty is clumsy. Not extraordinary in her beauty. Can be judgmental (though she is so kind and honorable, one hardly thinks to judge her). She is hardworking, determined. So resilient. And she's brave.
I feel as though she is my friend. Or at the very least, the things that dance through her mind are my own thoughts.
And while the story is very familiar, there are some differences in the book than the versions many of you may have read.
One thing that has not changed though: the rose still plays a magical part. Different, maybe. But the Beast and his affection for roses is present. Beauty and her awe of the magic that inhabits Beast's roses is still there. And the beautiful symbol of romantic, pure love is still there.
So obviously, me being the swoony, dreamy, I <3 the Beast t-shirt wearing fool that I am, adores roses. I carried a full, blooming bouquet of them in my wedding, I keep fresh cut roses in my house constantly. I doodle them aimlessly like I did when I was 13. I love roses. And my adoring husband planted some for me in our backyard a few years ago as a gift for mother's day.
They have had a riotous winter, because of our extremely mild temperatures and my pruning them more consistently. Plus we've had more dampness than we've had in quite a while too. So they are just exploding with life and joy and love and color and my heart just swells at the sight of them.
Wesley loves to pick them with me. Two nights ago we took a basket out and picked a big bouquet of the roses for our kitchen table. The fragrance that rolls off them is so wonderful and fresh. It's one of those nostalgic scents that takes you back a decade or so to some long forgotten memory.
I can't honestly remember an exact moment when I began to love roses. It may have been the first time I saw Beauty and the Beast. Or it may have been when I read this book when I was a young girl. I cannot tell you honestly. But I can say that my affection for these symbolic blooms has not waned in all my life. I think that I shall be an old lady, pruning her roses, smiling fondly at the conversation and companionship that existed between Beauty and her sweet Beast.
I look forward to teaching my children the lessons that I have learned from Beauty and the Beast. Wesley has seen the movie and is impressed by the Beast's courage and strength, but mostly he likes the singing and the talking candlesticks and clocks. :) His imagination is not very far different from my own.
We shall see what sort of personality Spencer develops in the way of imagination. So far, he seems to me a very mathematical, scientific sort of child. He's still tiny, though, so we'll just wait and see what sort of personality will bloom. He also just thinks its fun to rip the petals off the flowers and see the wind catch them. So much for stopping and smelling the roses. :)
I'm thankful for a husband who indulges my love of flowers. Sometimes I will catch him outside smelling my roses, only to have him look up with his eyes bright with pride and excitement. He will ask me often, did you see your roses? did you see that big one? did you smell the roses today?
Yes, we are a silly, rose-sniffing family. And I love it.