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Rose Daughter
Robin McKinley
Ace Books, 292 pages

Rose Daughter
Robin McKinley
Robin McKinley was born in 1952 in Warren, OH. She attended Dickinson College and was graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College. In 1978, her first novel, Beauty was accepted on her first submission. She, along with her writer husband, Peter Dickinson, and three whippets, lives in Hampshire, England. Besides five novels and two collections, Robin McKinley has had two children's picture books published: My Father is in the Navy and Rowan.

Robin McKinley Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Margo MacDonald

I'd like to start off by saying that I have never read Beauty, McKinley's first novel -- her first retelling of the beauty and the beast fairy tale, so I won't be making any of those comparisons which I am sure it would otherwise be hard to resist doing. McKinley herself includes a long author's note at the end of Rose Daughter in which she seems to feel the need to justify retelling this story for a second time.

For my part, I believe this justification to be interesting but totally unnecessary. This is simply one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read and, if others feel the same, that should be enough to validate its existence.

McKinley's style is simple, elegant and finely detailed. Her characters are named out of fairy tales (Beauty, Lionheart, Jeweltongue, etc.) but are very human, interesting and likeable -- you really care about them. The magical elements simply exist as part of the world in which the story takes place. They are neither forced nor overdone. The story rolls along gently, like a quiet stroll through a scented garden.

This is not the typical take on the beauty and the beast story, however, in that the focus in this case is not romance. This is a story about contentment -- finding it and holding on to it -- and about how, sometimes, we find the strangest things blooming at the centre of our hearts. It is also a story about roses -- maybe a little too much about roses, but in this regard the passion of the author translates into the passion of the main character and so is forgivable. But it is the feeling of finding contentment that stays with you.

To put it simply, I looked up from this book and saw the world for a while through rose-coloured glasses. And something of the core of peace at the heart of this story has stayed with me at the centre of my heart. So, thank you Ms. McKinley for telling this story again. I think now I'll go back and read Beauty and look forward to the chance that you may tell this story yet again in another 20 years.

Copyright © 1997 by Margo MacDonald

Margo has always been drawn toward fantasy and, at the age of 5, decided to fill her life with it by pursuing a career as a professional actress. Aside from theatre (and her husband), Margo's passion has been for books. Her interests are diverse and eclectic, but the bulk fall within the realm of speculative fiction. She tells us that her backlog has reached 200 books and she's ready to win the lottery and retire.

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