This is a new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, and it's an excellent one.
Bryony and her sisters, Holly and Iris, grew up as the daughters of a wealthy merchant--the wealthiest merchant in the land, he made sure everyone knew. After the death of their mother, though, their father grew more and more reckless in his investments, wand finally, when Bryony was fourteen, lost everything. Now the girls are living in a little cottage none of his creditors wanted, in the out-of-the-way village of Lostfarthing. Their father has died, taking one last risk that didn't pay off.
It's been three years, and the girls are eking out a living. Bryony has become a skilled and dedicated gardener. This dedication leads her to visit a neighboring village to get seeds from some particularly hardy rutabagas, and on the way home she is caught in a dangerous snowstorm. When she finds a manor house that shouldn't be there, she has little choice. Despite a rational fear of magic, she and her pony will die if she doesn't take refuge there. She doesn't meet the Beast until the net morning, when she attempts to leave with the beautiful, perfect rose that was on the table for her meals there.
We all know the basic story. Kingfisher plays with the complexities of it, giving us no only a smart, tough "beauty" and an alarming yet likable Beast, but a truly terrifying villain, and a kindly if sometimes prickly House. Even the relatively minor character of eldest sister Holly has depth and interest, and Iris, even though much less seen and heard from, has some texture and richness.
This is a really lovely rendition of an old favorite, well worth your time to either read or listen to. Recommended.
I bought this book.