Ella Enchanted is a Newbery Honor book written by Gail Carson Levine and published in 1997. The story is a retelling of Cinderella featuring various mythical creatures including fairies, elves, ogres, gnomes, and giants. In 2006, Levine went on to write Fairest, a retelling of the story of Snow White, set in the same world as Ella Enchanted. In 2018, Levine published Ogre Enchanted, a prequel to Ella Enchanted.
|Author||Gail Carson Levine|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback) and Audiobook|
On April 9, 2004, a movie loosely based on the novel was released. It was directed by Tommy O'Haver and starred Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy as Ella and Prince Charmont, respectively. The film received mostly mixed reviews, and was heavily criticized for its changes to the source material. Levine stated that the film is "so different from the book that it's hard to compare them," noting the addition of new characters such as Sir Edgar and Heston, and suggested "regarding the movie as a separate creative act".
Ella of Frell is given at her birth the gift of obedience by Lucinda the Fairy. She is now forced to follow through with every command she is told.
When Ella is around fourteen, she and her mother are taken ill. Ella recovers while her mother dies. Her cook Mandy reveals herself to be her Fairy godmother. She is also given two gifts by Mandy: a gnome-crafted necklace from her mother and a magic book which allows her to see diary entries, letters and fairy tales. At her mother's funeral, Ella meets the kingdom's prince, Char, who expresses fondness for her mother. At the wake, she is introduced to Dame Olga and her terrible daughters, Hattie and Olive.
Her father, Peter, decides to send her to finishing school with the two mean sisters. Before leaving she visits all of her favorite places, once again running into Char, who enjoys her company. At the royal menagerie, they encounter a Gnome toddler standing too close to the Ogre pen. Char saves him in time but hands him to Ella. Ella is then ordered by the Ogre to bring the child to him and against her will she starts toward the pen. They are only saved when Char commands her to stop.
On the trip to finishing school, Hattie discovers that Ella does whatever she is told and uses this for her own gain. Her first act is taking Ella's mother's necklace and then depriving Ella of food for the next three days. At school, she is constantly ordered and corrected, taking solace in her new friend, Areida. When Hattie orders Ella to end her friendship with Areida, Ella cannot stand this and sets out to find Lucinda so that she can reverse the spell. She learns of a Giant wedding and hopes to find her there.
Ella comes upon the kingdom of Elves, who offer a warm welcome and provisions for the journey ahead. The next morning, she awakens surrounded by ogres who plan on devouring her. She is given the command not to run away, so she is trapped, and stays up all night practicing her persuasive Ogrese in hopes of using it on the ogres. It works and she talks them back to sleep, just in time for Char and his soldiers to show up and apprehend them. The men are impressed with Ella's ability. One of his men is sent to escort Ella to the Giant wedding.
Lucinda unintentionally curses the bride and groom to always be together, and two other fairies in attendance give her grief for ruining the newlyweds' lives. Ella then learns that ungrateful recipients of her gifts often end up as squirrels and decides to use an alias when talking to her. Ella tells her she desires more mettle for she is too obedient, but Lucinda tells Ella to "be happy to be blessed with such a lovely quality" and Ella is forced to feel happy because of her 'gift.'
During the carriage ride home with her father, Ella learns that he's lost everything and she's going to have to be married off. She is introduced to a much older duke but her father determines that the duke is too poor to marry her and he hasn't the time to find her another suitor, so he instead must marry Dame Olga.
At the wedding of Peter and Olga, Lucinda is in attendance and gifts the bride and groom with eternal love. After the wedding, Ella sneaks away so as not to be seen by Lucinda, but is then found by Char. The two of them wander through the old castle looking for a secret passage. Their search coming up dry, they settle in an indoor garden. They find glass slippers on an old bench, Char gets Ella to put them on and they dance. They then discuss him leaving on a year-long trip before deciding they better get going.
On the ride to Olga's house, Peter reveals to her that he's broke. Olga is livid. Char comes to visit Ella the next day, but Hattie orders her to stay in her room. This continues until Char leaves for his trip. They start communicating via letters, which Ella has him address to Mandy so as not to arouse suspicion from her new step-family. When Peter leaves for work, Hattie reveals Ella's curse and Olga makes Ella work as a servant in her house.
After months of communicating with each other, Ella falls in love with Char but is uncertain of his feelings. Char professes his love for her and wishes for her to be his queen. Ella's excitement is short-lived when she realizes her curse could be used against him and be very dangerous for him since he will one day be king. She decides they could never be together and writes a letter addressed from Hattie to mislead him into thinking she has run off with a rich earl. Mandy hates to see Ella so hurt and calls upon Lucinda to tell her to undo the gift of obedience in exchange for transforming her into a squirrel for three months.
During the next six months, Ella continues to endure the torment of her step-family, as well as writing letters for Char. She learns that Char will be returning soon and three royal balls will be held. Lucinda comes back feeling horribly for Ella but is not able to lift the spell off of her. Lucinda tells her she can only do it herself, but she'll come to provide aid if summoned.
When Prince Char returns from his travels, Ella goes to the balls in disguise, with the help of Mandy and Lucinda. At the first ball, she dances with Char, who still wants to be with Ella after a chance meeting with Areida made him question the letter he received. On the second night, Char begs her to come the following night to see him perform a song. On the third night, he introduces her to his parents and dances only with her. Hattie is jealous and unmasks Ella, causing her to flee and lose one of her glass slippers. Char finds the slipper and goes to her home. He asks her to tell him if she loves him, which she does. He then tells her to marry him and she accepts. Hattie orders her not to, she says she can't, then Olga realizes with her curse and being queen, they could have anything and everything, and demands she marry Char. Still concerned for the safety of Char and the kingdom, Ella finds the strength to refuse her command, thus breaking Lucinda’s spell. Now Ella is able to marry Char on her own accord and she happily accepts. Ella and Areida reconnect. Mandy becomes the castle cook and fairy godmother to Char and Ella's future children. Ella and Char live happily ever after.