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The Princess Belle Etoile (French for Beautiful Star Princess) is a fairy tale written by Madame d'Aulnoy (1650/1651–4 January 1705). Madam d'Aulnoy, a French writer, popularized the term "Fairy Tale" which we now use to describe stories of folkloric fantasy featuring goblins, magic wishes, witches, gnomes and other imaginary creatures. She penned a number of now classic fairy tales including this one, which she based on an earlier Italian story.
This edition was published around 1909 by publisher John Lane. It features several beautiful illustrations by Walter Crane.
The story itself is fairly convoluted and dark. Although the Walter Crane edition was aimed at children it has many adult themes that one would not find in children's books today. It also has many characters and motifs common to other fairy tales, including the ever present wicked step mother, magical apples, sibling rivalry, mistaken identities and enchanted treasure.
An evil Queen decides to do away with her three grandchildren including the Princess Belle Etoile, and orders a servant to kill them. However the servant has a conscience and instead puts the three children in a boat where they are guarded by fairies until they are rescued by a pirate and his wife. Raised as their own children, the Princess grows up believing that her foster brother is actually her brother. She falls in love with him but they feel guilty.
Eventually after a series of adventures involving a dragon guarding a magic apple, a know it all bird, and other strange wonders, the Princess belle Etoile is reunited with her father the King and gets to marry her true love after discovering that they are not actually related. And they lived happily ever after.
The story itself is a bit forgettable and lacks the Disney-like quality of Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. However the illustrations by Walter Crane are magnificent and vividly depict the adventures of this little Princess.
|Princess Belle-Etoile Illustrations|