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Jennifer Donnelly on Why She Admires Belle, Plus an Excerpt From Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book

Editor’s Note: This week, we are so excited to have guest contributor Jennifer Donnelly, who wrote Disney: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, an enchanting original Beauty and the Beast story. We asked Jennifer to tell us a little bit about her admiration for Belle, and all things Beauty and the Beast. Take a look: 

If I were reborn a Disney princess, I’d be Belle. No question about it.

Don’t get me wrong: I relate to Ariel’s love of the sea (can you say Waterfire Saga?), and I covet the perfect, life-changing outfit every bit as much as Cinderella.

But when the dictionary adds an entry for “Nerdy Feminist Bookworm,” it will have two names: Jennifer Donnelly and Belle. Belle has so many qualities that I admire. She’s an independent thinker who treasures books. She yearns to broaden her mind and her horizons. She’s selfless, brave, and funny.

So when Disney asked me to write an original story about what happens to Belle away from the arc of the classic fairy tale, what goes on in her inner life, among her thoughts, hopes, fears, and fantasies, there was no way I could possibly say no.

Because my story, Lost in a Book, was to be set in the world of the upcoming live-action retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Disney gave me a special confidential sneak peek at that world. I got to read the amazing script and view early stills and snippets from the movie, which were all so beautiful. (You can see the gorgeous trailer here). It was a total thrill. So exciting and so much fun. How I managed not to blab anything to anyone, I do not know.

I’ve written quite a few books in many genres and under various circumstances, but this one was different. It was an amazing experience to write an original story that weaves around and through a classic fairy tale beloved by millions. It was fascinating—but challenging, too, as you can imagine. The original story is like gravity: always there and unchangeable. 

It has also been exciting to really get to know these characters over the past few months as I wrote and edited the book—Belle in particular. She and I have become extremely close, and there’s a lot more to her than I ever realized or appreciated. She has taught me so much, as all my characters do, and she will join other characters from my books—Alexandrine, Mattie, Fiona, and Serafina among them—in a very special place in my heart.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Lost in a Book:

Lost in a Book

“Reading became my sanctuary … I found so much in those books. I found histories that inspired me. Poems that delighted me. Novels that challenged me … What I really found though, was myself.” – Belle (Page 19)

“Belle’s brown eyes had shone with happiness. All her life, she’d loved books. She loved the look of them, the smell of them, the sweet weight of them in her arms. Most of all, she loved the feeling she got every time she picked one up—the feeling of holding an entire world in her hands.” (Page 34)

“No Prince Charming for you, then? No handsome knight to swoop in on a white horse and save you? I’m not surprised. I hear you’re the type of girl who does the saving herself.” – Henri (Page 74)

“Love is not for cowards.” – Agathe (Page 111)

“Roses have thorns, and thorns leave wounds.” – Beast (Page 124)

“….it’s a wonderful thing to read about other people’s lives, but it’s important to live your own life, too – no matter how challenging that life may sometimes be.” – Mrs. Potts (Page 165)

“Sometimes, Belle, our troubles are too deep for words. It’s at times like those when we need our friends the most.” – Lumiere (Page 212)

“Personally? I like books better than mirrors. Mirrors only show us what we are. Books show us what we can be.” – Beast (Page 217)

“To love, to truly love another—that is not for the faint of heart.” – Death (Page 250)

“Home is all the people, all the places, all the things that you love. You carry it wherever you go. Don’t you know that?” – Lucanos (Page 266)

“Love isn’t idiotic. It’s hard and messy, confusing and wonderful. But to love and be loved….that’s all that matters.” – Belle (Page 292)

“… promise me something, Belle … Keep being the author of your own story. Never let anyone else write it for you …” – Otto (Page 305)

“I always win.” – Love (Page 340)

And now, a special excerpt from Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book:

lost in a book excerpt - chapter 9

lost in a book excerpt - chapter 9 page 2

Editor’s Note: We absolutely love this excerpt, and Jennifer Donnelly’s Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy, click here!

Posted 2 years Ago
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