The Palace Chronicles #1: Just Ella
The Palace Chronicles Series Book #1 of 3 in publication order (switch to alphabetical order)
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
|Published on September 1, 1999|
|Age Group: 10 - 14 years|
|Reading Level: ||AR: 5.5 (6.0 Points, Quiz #34884)|
Lexile® measure: 790L
In this continuation of the Cinderella story, fifteen-year-old Ella finds that accepting Prince Charming's proposal ensnares her in a suffocating tangle of palace rules and royal etiquette, so she plots to escape.
The fire had gone out, and I didn't know what to do.
I was covered with a king's ransom of silk-sewn comforters and surrounded by six warming pans, so I was still mostly warm. But my nose was exposed and freezing, and I heard no friendly crackling from the direction of the hearth. For some reason the chambermaid in charge of keeping my fire going had overslept or forgotten me. Or perhaps I had awakened too early, before it was time for her to come on duty. I hadn't figured out the palace work schedule yet.
"Princess, nobody can stop those rumors. People would rather believe in fairy godmothers...than think that you took charge of your own destiny."
Like every commoner in the land, Ella dreams of going to the ball and marrying Prince Charming. But after she is chosen to marry the prince, life with the royal family is not the "happily ever after" that Ella imagined. Pitiless and cold, the royals try to mold her into their vision of a princess. Ella's life becomes a meaningless schedule of protocol, which she fears she will never grasp. And Prince Charming's beautiful face hides a vacant soul.
Even as her life turns to misery, the stories persist that Ella's fairy godmother sent her to the ball: How else could the poor girl wear a beautiful gown, arrive in a coach, and dance in those glass slippers? But there is no fairy godmother to help Ella escape the deadening life of the castle. Can she do it on her own?
Margaret Peterson Haddix's reconstruction of the Cinderella legend without the magic - how a commoner could have married the prince - is a story as richly fascinating as the classic tale.
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