Baby Ella was born into a wealthy family in the land of Frell. As all newborn babies do, she received a special gift from the fairy Lucinda: the gift of obedience. No matter what, Ella was to obey every command that was given to her, and she mustn’t tell anyone about her gift. As Ella gets older, she realizes that this isn’t quite the gift that it was intended to be: it was a curse. The Newbery Award winning Ella Enchanted is a creative and entertaining spin on the ever popular fairy tale Cinderella, and is sure to win the hearts of people of all ages.
When Ella was born in the land of Frell to Sir Peter and Lady Eleanor, she was given the gift of obedience by Lucinda, the well meaning but simple minded fairy. Although seemingly a charming gift, Ella’s mother realizes it could be dangerous and instructs her never to tell anyone about it, as she knows others could take advantage. Ella has a normal and happy childhood, spending time with her dear mother and their beloved cook, Mandy, while father is away for work. However, when Ella is fifteen, her mother becomes ill and dies. At the funeral, Ella meets Prince Charmont, or Char for short, as well as Dame Olga and her horrible daughters, Hattie and Olive. She also learns that Mandy is her fairy godmother, but she is unable to reverse Lucinda’s spell.
Ella’s father tells her she will be attending finishing school with Hattie and Olive, which of course, Ella does not want to do, but must. When Hattie discovers that, for some reason, Ella must do whatever is asked of her, she takes advantage and makes her do all kinds of things; she is cruel and uses Ella’s need to obey against her. Ella feels alone and sad at school until she meets a kind friend named Areida. She begins succeeding in school and is happy to have a friend. That is, however, until Hattie commands her to end her friendship with Areida. Through the magic book that Mandy gave Ella, she is able to see the journal entries of others, and letters that others write to one another. She learns that there is a wedding of giants happening, and knowing that fairies always attend wedding and births, Ella is hopeful that Lucinda will be there. Right then and there she decides to run away, find the wedding, and ask Lucinda to reverse this awful curse.
During her travels to the giants’ wedding, Ella meets elves and ogres, and realizes she is able to use the ogres’ magic against them. When Char and his knights find Ella with the ogres, Ella tells them where she is headed and is accompanied by Sir Stephan. She arrives at the wedding safely and finds Lucinda, who tells her she is unable to reverse the curse, and that she must be happy with what she has. Of course, Ella must obey.
After the wedding, Ella returns home with her father, who is now in great debt and must marry Dame Olga. At their wedding, Lucinda gives the pair the gift of eternal love. Char arrives at the reception and he and Ella go searching for a secret passageway. They talk, laugh, and find a pair of glass slippers that fit Ella’s feet perfectly. They dance together, and promise to write to one another while Char spends a year in the court of Ayortha. Sir Peter tells Dame Olga that he has lost all of his riches and must travel to make his money back, leaving Ella with the miserable woman and her daughters. When Dame Olga and Olive learn about Ella’s curse, they decide to make her a maid in the house, and thankfully Mandy offers to take Ella on as her helper.
As time goes on, Ella follows orders at home, and she and Char write letters frequently, through which they develop feelings for each other. In one of his letters, Char tells Ella that he loves her and wants to marry her. Afraid that their relationship would be harmful to Char and the kingdom, Ella writes a fake letter back as Hattie, saying that Ella is gone and has married. Char is heartbroken, and when he returns to the kingdom many months later, 3 royal balls will be held in his honor to welcome him home and to help find him a maiden to marry. Ella decides to attend the balls, wearing masks to hide her identity. At the first ball, she introduces herself as “Lela” and gets Char’s attention, and they spend more time together at the second ball. All the while, Char is unaware that he is spending time with Ella. At the third ball, Ella/Lela meets the king and the queen, and Hattie rips off Ella’s mask. Ella runs home to Mandy, losing a slipper along the way, and the two decide to run away and never return.
When Char arrives at the house in search of Ella, she is dressed in cinders and is disguised as a maid. Char recognizes her anyway and asks if she loves him; Ella says yes. When Char says, “Say you’ll marry me”, Ella knows she has to obey, but the fear of putting him in danger is so strong that she says no. She explains to Char why she cannot marry him but also realizes that she has broken her own curse! Realizing that she would no longer be putting Char in danger, she says yes to his proposal.
Ella Enchanted is a quirky, entertaining, and endearing twist on a classic fairy tale that has become a classic itself. It’s the story of a young girl who takes risks, remains brave and strong, breaks her own curse, and lives happily ever after.
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