He cannot be so bad if he loves roses so much.
But he is a beast, said Father helplessly.
Cannot a beast be tamed? (p. 139)
Beauty was named as a baby but has grown into a gawky teenager. She's smart, but not pretty. Wikipedia describes McKinley's heroines as feminists, but I didn't sense that the heroine in this story was out to prove anything. Unless loving books and not being gorgeous make you a women's libber.
The novel is surprisingly literary: Our father, bless him, didn't seem to notice that there was an egregious, and deplorable difference between his first two daughters and his youngest. On the contrary, he used to smile at us over the dinner table and say how pleased he was that we were growing into such dissimilar individuals; that he always felt sorry for families who looked like petals from the same flower. (p. 15)
I picked up my skirts and ran upstairs to my room as if Charon himself had left his river to fetch me. (p. 293) And, I could see the morning star shining like hope from the bottom of Pandora's box. (p. 296)
Obviously, the author loves the classics since there are many references to great literature sprinkled throughout (with a dash of Jane Eyre and a little bit of the Ugly Duckling thrown in for good measure.) Beauty loves the Greek classics. The beast's library is so magical that it includes books that haven't even been printed yet. (How fun!) Beauty revels in the stories of Sherlock Holmes and the poetry of Robert Browning although she can't understand some of the realities of their time periods.
I was very world weary when reading this book which may explain why my tears came easily at the most poignant points of the story. It seems likely that those who wrote/filmed the 1991 Disney version must have read McKinley's book (published in 1978) because they had many of the same images. But the book was better.
Pure literary comfort food.