I prefer to read the book before I see the movie. Whenever I hear an interesting movie is coming out that's based on a book, I'll hie myself to a library and then wait for months for a copy to become available. However, until Malin's review of Ella Enchanted (1997) by Gail Carson Revine, I had no idea that there even was a book version.
Ella Enchanted is a re-telling of Cinderella. Ella, short for Eleanor, is granted a "gift" of obedience that plagues her as she grows up. When her mother dies and Ella has to contend with a step mother and two step sisters, her problems multiply. Throw into the mix a lovable Prince Charmont, a selfish, distracted father, and a godmother/fairy and there's your story. Ella spends most of the book trying to rid herself of obedience and falling in love with Char.
Now, I enjoyed the film. It was sweet and silly. They didn't take themselves seriously and it was pretty original. And now that I've read the book, I know that many of the major plot points were changed for the movie, but I wish I had read the book first. I couldn't keep Anne Hathaway and Minnie Driver out of my head, even though they didn't fit the book's descriptions at all. My head kept jumping to what I thought would happen, which took away from what was actually happening. The movie kept some of the spirit of the book, although I noticed that 'Book Ella' was a little more rebellious than 'Movie Ella'. 'Book Ella' would sometimes retaliate to hateful orders with physical acts (grabbing dust and rubbing it in Hattie's face) while 'Movie Ella', although independent and "spirited" seemed more passive. Also, the movie was more of an ensemble with elves, ogres, and giants playing a larger part in helping Ella succeed, while in the book Ella often only had herself to fall back on.
I especially liked how Ella and Char's relationship was depicted in the book. They get to know each other slowly and actually have real conversations! And write letters to each other! ***SPOILER*** Although I guess I felt that Ella was kind of jerking Char around a bit in the end. Sure, she certainly had her own problems and reasons. But first she tells him she's married, and then she makes him like her all over again at the balls. I felt kind of bad for him--even though it all ends well, of course.
Anyway, if you're into children's fantasy, or even just a good, fun read, Ella Enchanted is fun.