Gail Carson Levine
I feel like I'm starting to turn into A Real Librarian who keeps posting about famous movies she's never seen. Only for me it's Famous Children's Books the Hedgehog is Just Finally Reading.
I had brought home Ella Enchanted during one of my fits of "I should just catch up on everything" and it had been lounging around the living room while I worked up the energy to read it. I have a lot more ideas about what I'll get done during the day in the evening and vice versa.
Ella is "blessed" at birth with the gift of being obedient--to everyone. She cannot disobey a direct order. Thus the story begins. Her mother orders her never to speak of it--so it's not a widely known curse. After her mother dies, Ella spends this coming of age story trying to find a way to break the truly miserable "gift."
Levine writes a rollicking tale that's full of laughter. Ella is slightly cynical about her curse but full of humor and the ingenuity of a young girl trying to overcome it. No boring heroine, Ella is constantly trying to find a way to break the curse. Her adventures see her kidnapped by ogres and attending a giants wedding.
Over the course of the book Levine sneaks in the usual requirements for a Cinderella adaptation--wicked stepsisters, an evil stepmother, and a handsome prince. There's a fairy godmother who is able to help but can't lift the curse. And in the end, it's Ella's own ingenuity that wins the day.
It's a relatively quick read and very enjoyable even for adults. Recommended especially if you enjoyed Ever After.