by Gail Carson Levine
Ella Timeline and Summary
- Ella is born, and the fairy Lucinda immediately slaps her with an obedience spell.
- Her childhood is actually okay, except for little incidents like not being able to stop eating her birthday cake until her mom clues in and tells her to stop, and her childhood buddy abusing the curse.
- And then, Ella and her mom get sick. It helps Ella, but not her mom, who gets sicker and eventually dies.
- Her dad shows up for once, which Ella totally does not know how to deal with, since he's been absent throughout her childhood.
- At the funeral, Ella meets Prince Charmont. He's surprisingly friendly for a prince.
- Not so friendly? Dame Olga and her two daughters, Hattie and Olive. Mostly they're greedy, counting the riches in the manor and scarfing down the cook Mandy's food.
- Ella finds out that Mandy is her fairy godmother. Whoa! Unfortunately, Mandy can't undo the spell.
- Now that her dad is back in her life, Ella thinks maybe it'd be better if he weren't—he's sending her off to finishing school.
- After a fun afternoon palling around with Char, Ella is off to school with Hattie and Olive.
- Hattie quickly figures out Ella's curse and makes her life miserable. So, Ella hightails it out of finishing school and finds Lucinda at a giant's wedding (after a brief detour of being captured by ogres).
- Surprise, surprise, Lucinda refuses to remove the curse.
- Back at home, Sir Peter (Ella's dad) marries Dame Olga. Great. Now Hattie and Olive are family.
- Since Sir Peter has lost all his money, Dame Olga decides to take it out on Ella. While she's scrubbing floors and pots, Ella secretly writes to Prince Char.
- Uh-oh. After he declares his love to her, Ella realizes that her curse could be bad news for the kingdom. So, she dumps him. By letter. Ouch.
- Mandy, who has had just about enough, gets Lucinda to submit to her own obedience spell, hoping that it'll lead to Lucinda agreeing to lift the spell on Ella. Instead, it just leads Lucinda to swear off doing big magic, like removing the spell.
- Finally, Ella decides to go (masked) to three balls that Char's parents are throwing to set him up with a future princess.
- When Char recognizes her and asks her to marry him—with the enthusiastic support of her family—the Battle for Ella's Free Will begins.
- To everyone's surprise, including her own, she ends up finding a place of strength within herself that lets her refuse.
- And the spell breaks! Ella is now free to say yes to Char.
- They're married, and Ella is happy with her ability to make her own choices for the rest of her life. They also have kids, and she gets to travel with him and pick up new languages.