Literature: Rose Daughter
Author: Robin McKinley
Country: United Kingdom
Genre(s): Fantasy novel
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Media type: Print (Hardcover)
Preceded by: Beauty
Followed by: Spindle’s End
First edition, 1997
Rose Daughter is a second retelling of the tale of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley, published in 1997.
Like McKinley’s original Beauty, the heroine has a strong, independent personality that sets her apart from the average fairy-tale female. In the original fairytale, Beauty’s sisters were selfish and vain. In Rose Daughter, Beauty’s two older sisters are brave and clever respectively, but cannot tolerate people less brave or clever than themselves. The impoverishment of the family forces the two older sisters to learn love and patience.
In the world of this book, roses can only be grown by using magic and are thus very rare. When the family moves to a lonely cottage left to them in a will from an unknown, distant relative, they find the house surrounded by a strange unpleasantly thorny bush. The sisters and father think the bushes should be uprooted but Beauty argues that nobody would grow such a nasty plant around the house without a reason.
There is a local legend that a curse will befall the area when three sisters live in the cottage. As the oldest sister, Lionheart, has disguised herself as a young man in order to get a job as a groom for the local lord, the neighbours do not know that the prophecy/curse is about to be fulfilled.
The main part of the book follows the basic plot of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast but with a few alterations: Beauty stays at the house for what seems to be seven days, during which she revives the roses in the Beast’s greenhouse and calls small creatures (bats, birds, frogs/toads, hedgehogs) back to the palace, and the Beast has filled the roof of his mansion with beautiful paintings.
At the point when Beauty returns to the Beast and declares her love for him, she is given a choice between returning the Beast to his human form or keeping him as the Beast. If he returns to human form, his wealth and fortune will likewise be returned to him and Beauty and her family can return to their former wealth and status. She and the former Beast will use their wealth to help other people and their names will be spoken far and wide. If he remains a Beast, they will return to the village and the life which the family has created there. Beauty asks how she and the Beast will be spoken of, if he returns to human form; the magic reveals that they would be spoken of with fear and loathing as nobody can know how best to help strangers.
Beauty chooses to stay in the village with the Beast in his current form, as not only would he miss being immune to the weather and strong, but more importantly, she fell in love with him when he was a Beast, and as a human, he would be a stranger to her.
Anne Bachelier has illustrated Rose Daughter in a limited edition as Rose Daughter-A Re-Telling of Beauty and the Beast.