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The Book is Better - Ella Enchanted

Updated on February 25, 2012

In 1997, the book Ella Enchanted was written and published by Gail Carson Levine as a children's novel and then made into a film in 2004 with the title character being played by Hollywood's newest darling, Anne Hathaway.

The Story

Ella Enchanted is essentially a spin on the Cinderella fairytale but with a bit more magic and a few extra plot twists. Ella lives the life of the original Cinderella as an only child who has lost her mother and her father has remarried an wicked woman with two daughters who fall quickly into their evil-stepsister roles. She meets the prince and falls in love but that is where the similarities come to an end.

At birth a fairy gave Ella what she called a "gift" but was in actuality a curse. Ella was given the gift of obedience. No matter who gives the command, Ella must do as she's told. It could be something like actually bitting a mean girl when she said "bite me" (which happen in the movie) or it could be something far worse. If someone was to tell her to kill the prince she would have to which is why as much as she loves him, they can not be together.

The Book

Gail Carson Levine took the story of Cinderella and used it as a base for her full length novel. With that she had to expand upon the original plot to ad more depth, the way she did that was with the curse. Much of the book is mental, we see what is going on inside of Ella's head. Yes there are events going on around her and those impact her thoughts and emotions but the reader isn't nearly as interested in those as we are in the character of Ella and no other character is nearly as important as she is. It's an interesting and clever way to tell a story but in this book it works.

All of the problems Ella faces are dealt within her mind almost. The morning of her mothers death, being sent away by her father and then once he is married him leaving her with their new family members, abandoning her with them as he works. The being treated as a slave in her own home and the knowledge that she can never be with the one she loves because she would be dangerous to him.

The reader quickly comes to admire the strength and drive in Ella and the fact that, while this is the Cinderella story, Ella in the end wasn't saved by a prince she saved herself and him by breaking the curse.

The Movie

Once this book was made into a film the plot was adjusted but the director did to a good job of retaining the sprit of the book. Things had to change because while novels have the ability to easily see into the mind of a character film doesn't have hat tool. In order to move the struggle and conflict out of Ella's mind Prince Charmont's murderous uncle was invented and he is the one that tries to use Ella as a pawn to harm his nephew so that he can take the crown. While this plot aspect was necessary there were others that weren't such as the odd elf sidekick and the talking book that helped Ella as she traveled on a mission to find the fairy that gave her her gift.

The movie is more humorous than the book and defiantly more modern but while it is different it is still good and most of the changes that were made didn't harm the story and some even enhanced it. Because the character of Ella is such an important part of the novel, keeping her character true was the most important part and she is just as brave and smart and independent in the movie as she was on the page and that right there help this be one of the better film adaptations that are out there.


Ella Enchanted ias a movie or a book is a good story and while the movie was done well, the book is still better.


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