Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted

by Gail Carson Levine


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This beloved Newbery Honor-winning story about a feisty heroine is sure to enchant readers new and old.

At her birth, Ella of Frell receives a foolish fairy's gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order, whether it's to hop on one foot for a day and a half, or to chop off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not accept her fate...

Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064407052
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/02/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 28,899
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.58(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 670L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Gail Carson Levine's first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Ever, a New York Times bestseller; Fairest, a Best Book of the Year for Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, and a New York Times bestseller; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; A Tale of Two Castles; and the six Princess Tales books. She is also the author of the nonfiction books Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly and Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink, as well as the picture books Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie. Gail Carson Levine and her husband, David, live in a two-centuries-old farmhouse in the Hudson Valley of New York State.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift. When I cried inconsolably through my first hour of life, my tears were her inspiration. Shaking her head sympathetically at Mother, the fairy touched my nose. "My gift is obedience. Ella will always be obedient. Now stop crying, child."

Father was away on a trading expedition as usual, but our cook, Mandy, was there. She and Mother were horrified, but no matter how they explained it to Lucinda, they couldn't make her understand the terrible thing she'd done to me. I could picture the argument: Mandy's freckles standing out sharper than usual, her frizzy gray hair in disarray, and her double chin shaking with anger; Mother still and intense, her brown curls damp from labor, the laughter gone from her eyes.

I couldn't imagine Lucinda. I didn't know what she looked like.

She wouldn't undo the curse.

My first awareness of it came on my fifth birthday. I seem to remember that day perfectly, perhaps because Mandy told the tale so often.

"For your birthday," she'd start, "I baked a beautiful cake. Six layers."

Bertha, our head maid, had sewn a special gown for me. "Blue as midnight with a white sash. You were small for your age even then, and you looked like a china doll, with a white ribbon in your black hair and your cheeksred from excitement."

In the middle of the table was a vase filled with flowers that Nathan, our manservant, had picked.

We all sat around the table. (Father was away again.) I was thrilled. I had watched Mandy bake the cake and Bertha sew the gown and Nathan pick the flowers.

Mandy cut the cake. When she handed me mypiece, she said without thinking, "Eat."

The first bite was delicious. I finished the slice happily. When it was gone, Mandy cut another. That one was harder. When it was gone, no one gave me more, but I knew I had to keep eating. I moved my fork into the cake itself.

"Ella, what are you doing?" Mother said.

"Little piggy." Mandy laughed. "It's her birthday, Lady. Let her have as much as she wants." She put another slice on my plate.

I felt sick, and frightened. Why couldn't I stop eating?

Swallowing was a struggle. Each bite weighed on my tongue and felt like a sticky mass of glue as I fought to get it down. I started crying while I ate.

Mother realized first. "Stop eating, Ella," she commanded.

I stopped.

Anyone could control me with an order. It had to be a direct command, such as "Put on a shawl," or "You must go to bed now." A wish or a request had no effect. I was free to ignore "I wish you would put on a shawl," or "Why don't you go to bed now?" But against an order I was powerless.

If someone told me to hop on one foot for a day and a half, I'd have to do it. And hopping on one foot wasn't the worst order I could be given. If you commanded me to cut off my own head, I'd have to do it.

I was in danger at every moment.

As I grew older, I learned to delay my obedience, but each moment cost me dear-in breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, and other complaints. I could never hold out for long. Even a few minutes were a desperate struggle.

I had a fairy godmother, and Mother asked her to take the curse away. But my fairy godmother said Lucinda was the only one who could remove it. However, she also said it might be broken someday without Lucinda's help.

But I didn't know how. I didn't even know who my fairy godmother was.

Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.

Mother rarely insisted I do anything. Father knew nothing of the curse and saw me too infrequently to issue many commands. But Mandy was bossy, giving orders almost as often as she drew breath. Kind orders or for-your-own-good orders. "Bundle up, Ella." Or "Hold this bowl while I beat the eggs, sweet."

I disliked these commands, harmless as they were. I'd hold the bowl, but move my feet so she would have to follow me around the kitchen. She'd call me minx and try to hem me in with more specific instructions, which I would find new ways to evade. Often, it was a long business to get anything done between us, with Mother laughing and egging each of us on by turn.

We'd end happily-with me finally choosing to do what Mandy wanted, or with Mandy changing her order to a request.

When Mandy would absentmindedly give me an order I knew she didn't mean, I'd say, "Do I have to?" And she'd reconsider.

When I was eight, I had a friend, Pamela, the daughter of one of the servants. One day she and I were in the kitchen, watching Mandy make marchpane. When Mandy sent me to the pantry for more almonds, I returned with only two. She ordered me back with more exact instructions, which I followed exactly, while still managing to frustrate her true wishes.

Later, when Pamela and I retreated to the garden to devour the candy, she asked why I hadn't done what Mandy wanted straight off.

"I hate when she's bossy," I answered.

Pamela said smugly, "I always obey my elders."

"That's because you don't have to."

"I do have to, or Father will slap me."

"It's not the same as for me. I'm under a spell." I enjoyed the importance of the words. Spells were rare. Lucinda was the only fairy rash enough to cast them on people.

"Like Sleeping Beauty?"

"Except I won't have to sleep for a hundred years."

"What's your spell?"

I told her.

"If anybody gives you an order, you have to obey? Including me?"

I nodded.

"Can I try it?"

"No." I hadn't anticipated this. I changed the subject. "I'll race you to the gate."

"All right, but I command you to lose the race."

"Then I don't want to race."

"I command you to race, and I command you to lose."

We raced. I lost.

We picked berries. I had to give Pamela the sweetest, ripest ones. We played princesses and ogres. I had to be the ogre.

An hour after my admission, I punched her. She screamed, and blood poured from her nose.

Our friendship ended that day. Mother found Pamela's mother a new situation far from our town of Frell.

After punishing me for using my fist, Mother issued one of her infrequent commands: never to tell anyone about my curse. But I wouldn't have anyway. I had learned caution.

When I was almost fifteen, Mother and I caught cold. Mandy dosed us with her curing soup, made with carrots, leeks, celery, and hair from a unicorn's tail. It was delicious, but we both hated to see those long yellow-white hairs floating around the vegetables.

Since Father was away from Frell, we drank the soup sitting up in Mother's bed. If he had been home, I wouldn't have been in her room at all. He didn't like me to be anywhere near him, getting underfoot, as he said.

I sipped my soup with the hairs in it because Mandy had said to, even though I grimaced at the soup and at Mandy's retreating back.

"I'll wait for mine to cool," Mother said. Then, after Mandy left, she took the hairs out while she ate and put them back in the empty bowl when she was done.

The next day I was well and Mother was much worse, too sick to drink or eat anything. She said there was a knife in her throat and a battering ram at her head. To make her feel better, I put cool cloths on her forehead and told her stories. They were only old, familiar tales about the fairies that I changed here and there, but sometimes I made Mother laugh. Except the laugh would turn into a cough.

Before Mandy sent me off for the night, Mother kissed me. "Good night. I love you, precious."

They were her last words to me. As I left the room, I heard her last words to Mandy. "I'm not very sick. Don't send for Sir Peter."

Sir Peter was Father.

The next morning, she was awake, but dreaming. With wide-open eyes, she chattered to invisible courtiers and plucked nervously at her silver necklace. To Mandy and me, there in the room with her, she said nothing.

Nathan, the manservant, got the physician, who hurried me away from Mother's side.

Our hallway was empty. I followed it to the spiral staircase and walked down, remembering the times Mother and I had slid down the banister.

We didn't do it when people were around. "We have to be dignified," she would whisper then, stepping down the stairs in an especially stately way. And I would follow, mimicking her and fighting my natural clumsiness, pleased to be part of her game.

But when we were alone, we preferred to slide and yell all the way down. And run back up for another ride, and a third, and a fourth.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I pulled our heavy front door open and slipped out into bright sunshine.

It was a long walk to the old castle, but I wanted to make a wish, and I wanted to make it in the place where it would have the best chance of being granted.

The castle had been abandoned when King Jerrold was a boy, although it was reopened on special occasions, for private balls, weddings, and the like. Even so, Bertha said it was haunted, and Nathan said it was infested with mice. Its gardens were overgrown, but Bertha swore the candle trees had power.

I went straight to the candle grove. The candles were small trees that had been pruned and tied to wires to make them grow in the shape of candelabra.

For wishes you need trading material. I closed my eyes and thought.

"If Mother gets well quick, I'll be good, not just obedient. I'll try harder not to be clumsy and I won't tease Mandy so much."

I didn't bargain for Mother's life, because I didn't believe she was in danger of dying.

Ella Enchanted. Copyright © by Gail Levine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Reading Group Guide

About the Book:

The 1998 Newbery Honor Book, Ella Enchanted, is the funny and charming story of a girl who receives a most unfortunate "gift" of complete obedience. At her birth, Ella of Frell was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, though, for how can she truly be herself when at any moment she must obey any order given to her, whether it is to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom. But spunky Ella does not tamely accept her fate: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." Battling hungry ogres, wicked stepsisters, and foolish fairies along the way, fifteen-year-old Ella embarks on a quest to break the curse—once and for all.

Questions For Discussion:

  1. When she started writing this novel, Gail Carson Levine wanted to base her story on Cinderella but didn't want Ella to be a "goody two-shoes." So Levine created the obedience "gift," which forces Ella to be good. Identify additional differences and similarities between Ella Enchanted and the classic fairy tale Cinderella.

  2. Ella's father tries to set up a marriage for her with a man who is much older. How are marriages arranged in Frell? Do people marry for love or other reasons? How are marriage customs in Frell like and unlike modern marriage customs in our society?

  3. What kind of relationship does Ella have with her father? Do you feel he is wrong to try and marry her off to a wealthy man or to leave Ella alone with Dame Olga and her daughters?How is Ella's relationship with her father different from the relationship she had with her mother? Do you think Ella takes more after her mother or her father? Explain why.

  4. What is the difference between small and big magic? Give some examples of both. Why is Mandy so reluctant to cast big magic? Why does she rarely tell people that she is a fairy?

  5. What does it mean that Ella is in a line of women who are "Friends of Fairies" (page 25)? Are there instances in the story when Ella demonstrates her "fairy blood" and performs some magic of her own?

  6. While at finishing school Hattie orders that Ella discontinue her friendship with Areida, her only friend. After Hattie's command is issued, Ella proclaims, "In all the times I'd imagined the miseries she could inflict on me, I'd never imagined this. I'd thought of injuries, and I'd imagined terrible embarrassment, but I'd never thought of this kind of hurt" (page 81). How is the hurt she feels at ending her friendship with Areida similar to the conflict she feels at the prospect of marrying Char? How is this curse of obedience potentially dangerous to everyone she loves or befriends?

  7. Why do you think Ella is finally able to break her curse of obedience when she initially refuses to marry Char? What does Ella mean when upon breaking the curse she says, "In that moment I found a power beyond any I'd had before, a will and a determination I would never have needed if not for Lucinda, a fortitude I hadn't been able to find for a lesser cause. And I found my voice" (page 226)?

  8. Do you think Lucinda finally learns the damaging effects of big magic by the end of the novel? Why or why not?

  9. Lucinda's spells don't always work as she intends them. Ella's father does not transform into a loving person after he is cast into eternal love with Dame Olga and Ella finds ways to make mischief despite her obedience spell. What difference is there between choosing to do good and being forced into it?

  10. How does Ella's knack for learning languages help her in social situations? What effect does she have when she speaks or attempts to speak to others in their native tongue?

  11. Why does Ella attend the three balls that the king throws for Prince Charmont and risk getting caught by her stepfamily and by the prince himself?

About The Author:

Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and has been writing all her life. She and her husband, David, and their Airedale, Jake, live in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse in Brewster, New York. Ella Enchanted is her first book for children.

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Ella Enchanted 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1153 reviews.
Tifa-sohma More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've ever read. The reading level may be low, but the story is still fantastic. It's not like the average Cinderella story, where a ball changes everything, it's an even greater story of determination, courage, and love. I've taken experiences from this book and applied them to my life. The characters are very very well developed and you are able to feel like you are in the story. The twists put on this story make the experience intense and unpredictable. Even if you are an adult I highly recommend reading this book. It's a good read for any age.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone else who wrote reviews on this book just said 'THIS IS THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD!'. I do not agree though. Even though this book is outstanding work and I envy Gail Carson Levine with the passion of a thousand suns for being able to write as beautifuly and wonderfully as this. When you read this book you you are pulled into the story and you are not just reading about Ella and her prince, you are experiancing the story. You're talking with giants and dancing with elves, just as Ella did. Oh yes, one other thing, you are falling in love with a prince......who is in love with you. You won't be able to put this book down, litterally. You will read this book begining to end and you will be depressed to find there are only 3 pages left in the book.....so you read it again. Ella Enchanted is a very lovey book and deserves more attention than it and Gail are receiving. If you find that your life is as exicting as you like it, you don't have to read this. But, if you're looking for adventure, you just found it.
Emma_Lane More than 1 year ago
Don't compare this book to the movie! This book is so much better than the Anne Hathaway film (not to put it down). The story has more depth, and much better character development. I believe that adults could enjoy this book, even if you didn't find the movie to your liking. Give it a try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutly LOVE this book! No matter your age, you will LOVE IT!!!!!
pinkfairytale More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is family friendly and it is one of the best - if not the best - fairytale books for girls ever. I have shared this book with many friends and now it is also a favorite of theirs. This has been my favorite book as long a I can remember! I suggest this book to any girl who loves a good Cinderella story. This is by far Gail Carson Levine's best work and it can not even be compared to any of her other books!
piratesweetie More than 1 year ago
This is one of the BEST BOOKS I have had the pleasure to read. I bought this at a book fair in elementary school. I can't tell you how many times I have read and reread this book. It never loses its magic, no matter how many times you read it. Ella is extremely witty and funny. The book is hilarious, it will make you cry, the romance is 5-star--what more can you ask for from a book? This book will not leave you wanting--a definite CLASSIC. P.S. The movie did not do the book justice. It was cute and everything--but in my opinion they should have kept the concept closer to the book. Happy reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ella is the main character of the story and when she was born, she was cursed with the "gift" of obedience. Having this gift was very dangerous because others could make her do whatever they please, and Ella would have no control over it. She lived with her mother and the cook, Mandy. Her mother died when she was 15. Ella's dad, Sir. Peter, was a trader and was rarely home. It was now her, Mandy, and her dad. Ella was called "clumsy" because of her fairy feet. Her dad sent her away to boarding school with Dame Olga's daughters Olive and Hattie. Hattie figured out Ella's curse and used it to her advantage and later on in the story she told Olive and her mom. They attended finishing school and Ella ran away to go to a giants wedding to find Lucinda. On her way home, she was greeted by elves. And after that she was captured by ogres which tried to eat her. But then Prince Charmont and some knights saved her by tying up the ogres. Ella then returned to the wedding and found Lucinda. She didn't cure her curse. Ella then returned to Frell. Dame Olga and Sir. Peter get married because Sir. Peter's business failed and he needs to become rich again. Later on, a ball is thrown for the homecoming of Char and Ella goes to it as a masked girl named Lela. Char becomes friends with Lela. Hattie takes off Ella's mask on the third night of the ball and Char sees that she is actually Ella. She runs home to Mandy and they are about to leave when they are greeted by the prince. Char asks Ella to marry him and Hattie says "Don't marry him Ella" and she was forced not to marry him. But Olive said to marry him as a command and Ella refused. She told Char that she couldn't marry him because she was cursed and she would put him in danger. And at that point she realized that she broke the spell and she ended up marrying Char. This whole story was about Ella facing what she had to deal with every day of her life and overcoming her curse. Something I really liked about the book was the different languages that were made up in the book. One dislike about the book that really annoyed me was Olive, because she used Ella to her advantage for money and someone to talk to. I think people should read this book because it was enjoyable and I got hooked on it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ella Enchanted is SUCH a cool book! I didn't even know it was based on 'Cinderella' until I read about it on this website! The author, Gail Levine, did a wonderful job with this masterpiece! She writes so you believe that ogres and dragons and faries are real. And Ella is such a cool person! She's not always perky and smiling like Cinderella, but she has real feelings, and is a genuinely nice person. And she doesn't just meet the prince once and fall in 'love', but has a friendship that leads into their love. All in all - Get it!
unitedbooklover More than 1 year ago
Amazing book....I would recommened it to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved and reread this book countless times since I was eight, and, judging by the other reviews I've read, so has everybody else. This book is filled with adventure, romance, and hilarity, all told from the point of view of a main character who is spunky, intelligent, and utterly likeable. A brilliantly written and engaging story.
Dymontgo More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in 4th grade, many many many years ago. But I still remember the tale like it was yesterday. This was the first book that I absolutely, unequivocably fell in love with. I don't know how many times I went to my school library to check out this book but every single time, I cried and I cheered. This book is a wonderful WONDERFUL book for young girls and I would recommend it to any child.
lc84 More than 1 year ago
This book was extremely good. It was humorous, smart, fun, and had a touch of romance. This book about over coming some of the things holding you back could be extremely inspirable to some children. If they cant read themselves, it would be a great story to read to you little princess, family bonding and happiness. This book is not only a book, the movie is also out there too, and though very different it still has the same inspirable movement to it. This book is great for people all ages who like a good book, but it is probably put more to 4-10 year old girls, but read the book its fantastic! If you want to read an amazing story about so great accomplishments, this will be a perfect book for you, not only are there accomplishments, but adventure, danger and love, absolutely amazing. This book though, will probably not be as liked by little boys, or boys for that matter, but if you have a little princess in your world, or a little princess inside of you, read this book, you'll absolutely, positively love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my favorite book when I was in elementary school.
The_smart_warriors_reader More than 1 year ago
They say this book is for ages 8 to 12, but I do not believe them. It's hard to outgrow this book. It's amazingly written. I cried in parts. Other people have tried to write a story about Cinderella. None are as good as this. You can read it again and again. All my friends who have read it love it. I highly recommend this book. If you don't read it, it's your loss.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ella Enchanted is the best book I've ever read because,it made me fell like I was Ella, and always had to obey. I also liked how the author gave a lot of detail, but not too much that it got boring.
T-A More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book of all time. It is a classic tale fleshed out to paint the portrait of an independent, admirable protagonist on a quest through a magical world. I have read it countless times, even as an adult, and it still engrosses me. This book turns the traditional "damsel in distress" character on its head, giving you a strong, courageous, determined young woman who saves herself and her loved ones at the same time. It is an eloquent illustration of the old adage, "you can do anything if you put your mind to it." Gail Carson Levine's Newbery Medal was rightly deserved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Ella Enchanted" is lovely retold version of Cinderella, even down to the glass slippcers and orange pumpkin carriage! The heroine, Ella, is cursed with a "gift" from a foolish fairy when she is born. She journeys to find the fairy and to end the curse once and for all. But, she doesn't intend to fall head over heels in love with the dashing Prince Charmont along the way. Will she be able to find Lucinda, the fairy who cursed her? Will she be able to escape the wrath of her cruel step-mother and step-sisters? Wil she finally be able to marry the prince she loves? This book was and stiil is an excellent read. The way Levine has written this book will keep you on the edge of your seat! I have, time and time again, enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it to anyone. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I thought it was so good I wanted to read it a million more times. The book is about a girl named Ella, and how she has to break a curse. This girl lost her mother when she was young, and yet more trouble came along time after time. It is another Cinderella story. Sometimes I feel like Ella. She always feels trapped and unable to be herself because she has to do what she is told. The difference is I get a choice. I loved the book and thought it was amazing. It was wonderful and it can help you learn a lesson if you read between the lines. If you read it, you will fall in love with it. I fell in love with this book. I recommend it to anyone who likes fairytales. I hope you will love it to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I thought it was so good I wanted to read it a million more times. The book is about a girl named Ella, and how she has to break a curse. This girl lost her mother when she was young, and yet more trouble came along time after time. It is another Cinderella story. Sometimes I feel like Ella. She always feels trapped and unable to be herself because she has to do what she is told. The difference is I get a choice. I loved the book and thought it was amazing. It was wonderful and it can help you learn a lesson if you read between the lines. If you read it, you will fall in love with it. I fell in love with this book. I recommend it to anyone who likes fairytales. I hope you will love it to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ella Enchanted was a wonderful book. But do not take advice from me, every book I read, I say, 'Oh, how romantic and wonderful! I love this book! It is now my favorite!' And it is the same with this book. I did not even think this was a Cinderella story until I got to the very end. It goes soo much deeper than Cinderella. It is more true than the fairy tale. Ella doesn't just fall in love with the prince, and automatically get stepsisters, and make the prince fall in love with her. Everything happens gradually. I have read this book at least 3 times, and I am looking forward to reading it again. I extremly love the romance that goes on between the prince and Ella. It is so obvious that they are right for each other. If only love was really that way. As for Ella's curse, it made me respect her more. If anyone feels the same way about this book, and loves to talk about books, please contact me @ my e-mail address.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is by far the greatest! Once you start reading it, you can't put it down! Its exciting from the very start! Read this book if you havent already! It's SSOOOO good!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved this book ever since I was a young girl. It takes the fairytale of Cinderella and adds lots of new twists on to it. It is a novel about the courage of a young woman who can overcome it all for true love. True love's power here though is a picture of great sacrifice. This adventure of a novel shows the struggle and power of goodness in the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You have to get this book or at least read a sample