A half fairy girl goes on a long journey to discover the fate of magic in a changing world Normally I approach Tepper like Atwood s genre writing message driven to the point of transparency, but sympathetic and consistently well written But Beauty is a mess of a book It begins as a Sleeping Beauty retelling but crams in Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and the Frog Prince, growing increasingly predictable it spans a lifetime and jumps between half a dozen settings, the worst of which is an ill conceived environmental dystopia yet the book says so little It s a ham fisted morality tale about the sins of environmental destruction and horror novels, I guess because they best represent humanity s desensitization to violence and evil It s sanctimonious, plodding, and runs a hundred pages too long This is the first of Tepper s novels to disappoint me and I by no means recommend it. Part speculative fiction, part philosophy, part patchwork cosmology, Beauty is intense It chronicles the life of someone who starts out as a mistrusted halfbreed in an age that values genealogy, and who progresses through multiple worlds, back and forth in time, being entirely too curious about what makes her situation unique Tepper manages to write realistic Sidhe and believable Bogles, despite the unlikelihood of her audience having any basis for comparison.The protagonist, named Beauty except when circumstances recommend other names , is credible to the bone, from starry eyed 15 year old girl through exhausted old woman She is neither painfully virtuous nor improbably wise, but neither is she venal or foolish Her matter of fact approach to time travel and the loss of entire worlds is entirely human, but hints at strength and perspective that might be not so much the legacy of her Sidhe ancestry, but rather a rebellion against Sidhe insubstantiality.Expect, perhaps not to weep, but to ache for the inevitable loss Expect to recognize people you know Expect to think, wonder, and have weird dreams, and to want to stay up drinking and talking with your best friend And if you write or draw or sculpt, you might end up doing a bit of that too This book is a door that only goes one way, but you won t regret entering. With The Publication Of The Gate To Women S Country, Sheri S Tepper Came To Be Recognized As A Major Science Fiction Writer Now The Author Of Raising The Stones And Grass A New York Times Notable Book And Hugo Award Finalist Turns To Beauty, A Fantasy With A Story That Is , Much Than FableDrawing On The Wellspring Of Much Loved, Well Remembered Fairy Tales, Tepper Delivers A Thought Provoking And Finely Crafted Novel That Thoroughly Involves The Reader In The Life Of One Of The Most Captivating Heroines In Modern Fantasy Beauty On Her Sixteenth Birthday Beauty Is Seemingly Able To Sidestep Her Aunt S Curse Instead She Is Transported To The Future Here Begin Her Adventures As She Travels Magically Back And Forth In Time To Visit Places Both Imaginary And Real Finally She Comes To Understand What Has Been Her Special Gift To Humanity All AlongFor In Beauty, There Is Beauty And In Beauty, Magic Without Our Enchanted Places, Humanity Is No Than An Upstart Ape And This, We Realize, Is Why Beauty Must Be Saved, Both In The Fantastical World Of Tepper S Novel And In The Actual World In Which We Live Now is not a good time to write a review of this, because I am in a bad mood I will do, nonetheless, it.I did have to remove two stars from my 13 year old rating I did not find this particularly beautiful, or as tragic as I remembered, or even particularly clever Luckily, though it did not descend into the overwrought sentimentality I was dreading, except perhaps a little towards the end Even then, though, I maintain that it retained something of grandeur.Tepper is clearly a very good writer she must be in order to make such a convoluted plot readable at all I, unlike some other reviewers, do not think there was anything confusing about this book I do wish, though, that she was a just slightly better writer Reading this, I wished constantly for a bit of subtlety naturally, I agree with her feminist and environmentalist agenda, but I wish she wouldn t harp on it so obviously She might as well have said It s hard to be a woman, and humanity sucks Yep I know, whatever, now let s go and read a good book I thought she achieved an excellent level of subtlety in The Gate to Women s Country though I did notice it a bit in Grass , so why not here I wonder if it was deliberate, perhaps because she was writing in diary form Unfortunately it just looks like she s not quite good enough to pull it off So if it was deliberate, it was a super bad move.My heart is of stone, I have no scruples about destroying my childhood idols I found Beauty a pallid character, Giles no better, and most of the others had no flesh to them I think she could have done really interesting things with the time travel, and the idea of fate, which she seemed to just ignore.No matter how full of faults Tepper seems to be, I can t get over how much interesting her books are than all the so called classic sci fi Not that I ve read a huge amount of it, but in my defence, that s largely because it s mostly rather boring I d prefer to read Tepper any day, who is at least interestingly flawed I may have mentioned I m in a bad mood.I gave this five stars because I would have given it five stars last time I read it, I loved it that much I m not sure if I d still feel the same now.Nonetheless, I remember this as being the most successful attempt to merge science fiction and fantasy that I d ever read Time travel, apocalypse, dystopia, magic, oldschool fairy tales, true love, old people who search for each other for years and are still capable of loving each other, all held together with a sizeable dollop of Celtic faerie land stuff The sort of thing I like to call a darn good yarn It was stunningly beautiful and heart rendingly tragic to the inexperience of my approx fourteen year old self Ergo, it was almost certainly overwrought and sentimental. I think the most twisted variation on the Sleeping Beauty legend remains Sheri Tepper s Beauty That was a great book, BUT Grim Down, down to Happyland Disposal chute, for unwanted infants Ugh Ol Sheri don t do subtle.Critic Gary K Wolfe said Beauty remains one of the genre hopping masterpieces of the last 20 years, and I guess I d agree, but it s Well Pretty gross at times Still worth reading Once, anyway I think about rereading, now then, and run through pretty much the same line of thought you just read. It took me a while to finish reading this book In fact, when I was than half way through, I almost quit, but Jackie encouraged me to finish the story There are several reasons for my reluctance to finish reading the book 1 I wasn t able to fully grasp or keep track of the plot because the main character, Beauty keeps moving back and forth between different time dimensions and different worlds, meeting different characters That was confusing to me So there was a sense of vagueness as I read One of the GR reviewers called the story convoluted.2 There were too many characters to keep track of Perhaps they weren t fleshed out enough for me.3 The story is unevenly paced It would catch my interest and then lose it again.4 The story seemed disjointed at times, perhaps because of all the time shifts.The things I liked about the book were 1 The protagonist s love of the beauty of nature and her wish to preserve it.2 The protagonist s dislike of horror and her raging against it.3 The imaginative way the author inter weaves characters from familiar fairy tales.4 The ways the author points out how time has changed our culture over hundreds of years For example, I was made to wonder about the years when there were no clocks I wish I could think of other examples from the book They were like insights 5 The magic in the fantasy worlds which the author describes Below is a link to a good GR review of this book from Martine s review It s hard to summarise the story as it is so terribly convoluted If you can get over the disjointedness of the first half and the author s tendency to introduce cool ideas without really working them out, you ll find an imaginative and frequently entertaining albeit depressing fantasy story with some familiar, refreshingly un Disney like characters It s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it s better than most fantasy books out there, and I have no trouble recommending it to those who like their fairy tales dark and bleak. I loved this book immensely It weaves a tapestry of fairytales, linking Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White in a timeless fantasy.It transported me to the Realm of Fae and I was completely immersed in the novel Sympathetic characters made it easy to love.I sent this to my neice and wish I didn t because I d love to read it again. This book is a big hot mess I kept reading because it was such a train wreck, a sick sense of fasciation held my interest The plot is ridiculous Tepper throws countless fairy tales, Bible stories, and unrelated fiction into a single storyline But instead of cleverly weaving together disparate elements, it feels disjointed, haphazard, and nonsensical Her writing frequently throws us such delicious awfulness as his eyes glittered with hectic abandon On top of that, here are my two major problems with the book 1 Inconsistency The misconception of poor fantasy writers is that anything goes if writing within the fantasy genre Instead, the rules that govern a fantasy story must be even solid and clear than regular fiction for us to believe it and buy into the world In Beauty, the characters are inconsistent, acting one way for a single chapter and then randomly acting differently in the next The laws of her world are also inconsistent our main character can magically heal someone in hell, and clear her own aging eyesight at will, but she lets her true love die of TB and forgets to help her own leg pains we hear about constantly Tepper s language is also inconsistent, ranging from obnoxiously trite, overly sentimental fairy tale writing to sections that are flat and crass It s not diverse in an interesting or intentional way it smacks of someone who doesn t know how to regulate their own writing, or who doesn t yet have a strong writing voice 2 Nastiness The basic premise of this book is that humanity is going to hell in a hand basket thanks to religion, environmental destruction, and media with dark themes As a conservation biologist, I m as concerned as anyone about our ecological future But in this vision, yep, it s the authors, movie makers, comic book writers, etc that bring about the end of humanity and the entire world by giving power to horror pornography violence Yet this book features horrible people, brutal rapes, cruel jealous women and brutish unsympathetic men So congratulations, Sheri Tepper You re actively contributing to your own vision of the end times You are part of the problem.Why even two stars, you might ask Because any book so bad it makes me laugh out loud deserves some appreciation It s almost worth reading for the head shakingly bad writing, weird plot twists, and precious descriptions of Fairy If you re looking for ecofeminism, this isn t anywhere near it try reading Susan Griffen s Woman and Nature instead For impressive science fiction fantasy that deals with gender issues, head straight to the source with James Tiptree really Alice Sheldon try a collection of short stories like Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. When people force me to choose a single favorite book, I often name this one It begins as a retelling of Sleeping Beauty Then the time travelers show up and things go crazy from there The book has apocalypse, fairy tales cinderella, snow white, etc , visits to Hell and Faerie, horror, and The familiar elements react to make a very original whole The book wears its environmentalist and feminist hearts openly, but lack of subtlety doesn t mean lack of power Every time I reread it I still shiver, still laugh, still cry It is not for the squeamishbut then again, neither is what we re doing to the planet. This is a deeply strange book, twisting fairytale tropes to tell a story of environmental collapse, destructive religion, sexual abuse, feminism, and gender politics, among many other things including the loyalty of cats, who so rarely get their due in literature I don t know how well it hangs together but I loved reading it.