The book, told in first person, begins by introducing Honour Huston, a self-conscious bookworm of a girl whose humor and wit draw the reader to her in much the same way a straight-forward stranger quickly becomes a friend. Within the first few pages you learn the names of her sisters, her home life, and just how her five-year-old "precocity" earned her the nickname of Beauty.
Having been familiar with another retelling, I was surprised to find her sisters selfless and kind. However, it does make the story more interesting. Within the first chapter we are brought up to speed on the love lives of Grace and Hope, her elder sisters. Thankfully the story gets these plot points out of the way rather quickly.
Beauty's account of the loss of their fortune and move to the country is told with conviction and strength. My favorite part by far was the moment when we meet Greatheart, Beauty's hand-raised horse. For a person who once named a yellow cat Sunny it was a very touching scene.
Beauty adapts with slight ease to life in the country, becoming one of the guys rather than the ugly duckling. The foreshadowing is obvious in some ways but still enjoyable. But by the end of part one the real story has begun.
Part two introduces us to the Beast, and the many marvels of his castle. My favorite of these is the library, full as it is with as yet unwritten books. The romance between Beauty and the Beast grows slowly as well it should. While we never learn the true name of the Beast we are still left with a most satisfying happily ever after.