Princess Ben

Although I love fairy tales, I’ve always had a problem with some of them:  Why does the beautiful princess need to be rescued by the handsome prince?  Additionally, why does the princess have to be beautiful, and why can’t she save herself?  (If you haven’t figured it out by now, yes, I am a feminist.)  I like seeing a strong, smart heroine who solves her own problems.  I got what I wanted in Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.  (The whole title is Princess Ben:  Being a Wholly Truthful Account of Her Various Discoveries and Midsadventures, Recounted to the Best of Her Recollection, in Four Parts.  Great title.)  At times, Ben is irreverent, brash, and a bit immature, but she grows into a woman who thinks for herself and can save herself and those she loves.

Princess Benevolence of Montagne has just lost her uncle, King Ferdinand, her mother, and her father.  She is the sole heir to the throne, but Ben has almost no desire to learn the seemingly trivial things that her aunt, Queen Sophia, thinks she should learn.  Ben isn’t interested in pointless conversations, fashion, needlework, or starving herself so that she can be the slim princess who will attract a husband.  When Sophia becomes fed up with Ben’s apathy and locks her in a tower cell, Ben thinks her misery will surely be a permanent condition.  That changes, however, when Ben stumbles upon an enchanted room and secret, magical passageways throughout the castle.  Ben begins to explore magic and learn things that are definitely not boring and may, in fact, have some use for her in the future.

When neighboring Drachensbett begins to threaten the kingdom of Montagne, Ben sets off on a perilous journey that threatens her very life.  She comes to painful and eye-opening realizations about herself and those around her.  What will become of her?  Will she ever make peace with Queen Sophia?  Will Drachensbett attack Montagne?  And what is she to do about her tumultuous feelings about Prince Florian, heir to the throne of Drachensbett and Ben’s own nemesis?  Princess Ben is definitely not your typical princess, and her story is not your average fairy tale.  Read Ben’s account of her life and discover what it’s really like when a princess grows up and learns the lessons that will make her a strong woman and queen.

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