by Gail Carson Levine
Ella Enchanted Summary
How It All Goes Down
In the land of Kyrria, Ella is born into a noble family. She immediately receives a visitor: the fairy Lucinda. Time to bestow some beauty, grace, and intelligence, right? Nope. Well-meaning but a little dim-witted, fairy Lucinda bestows upon her a "blessing": that she shall always be obedient.
Oops. Now anyone can order Ella to do anything, regardless of whether it's dangerous or in her best interests.
Things are okay, for while. Ella's mom protects her, obviously, and their cook Mandy just happens to be a fairy—although not a powerful one, so she can't do much about Ella's little spell-problem. Then, when Ella is almost fifteen, her mom dies. At her mother's funeral, Ella just so happens to meets Kyrria's prince, Charmont, who is (obviously) charming and handsome. They hit it off and pal around for a while before Ella's sent off to finishing school with two bratty girls, Hattie and Olive. And, surprise! Hattie and Olive become her stepsisters when their parents marry.
Ella runs away from finishing school (naturally) to find Lucinda, having adventures with elves, giants, ogres, and Prince Charmont (or Char, as he prefers to be called) along the way. (Speaking of Char—seems like someone might have a little crush.)
Char and Ella correspond while he's visiting another court and while she's confined to the family home, ordered to live in rags and act as a servant. By now, she's worked out that her obedience could a be a Big Problem to anyone who loves her—like a prince—because she could be ordered to betray him, or, say, slit his throat in the middle of the night.
Convinced that she has to break Char's heart in order to keep him safe, Ella tells him that she's eloped with some other dude. Still, she goes masked to the three balls his parents hold to help him find a bride. (What, no Match.com?) Surprise, surprise: Char seems fond of her masked alter ego.
When she's unmasked, he tells her that he still wants to marry her. Everyone pushes her to marry him—he does because he loves her; her stepfamily does because they want to get richer—but she realizes she can finally refuse an order, because she's doing it out of his best interests.
Woohoo! Spell broken. Now that she's not being forced into it, obviously she says yes. They live happily ever after.