Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper
I had said I would read it, and so I did.
Beauty (as in Sleeping Beauty) is cursed by her fairy godmother. You’ve heard this story before, right? She pricks her finger on a spindle, everyone in the castle falls into an enchanted sleep, a wall of thorn bushes grows around the castle, and so it goes until Prince Charming arrives to kiss her awake. In this version, there’s a twist that allows Beauty to leave the castle and wander in Time. Her first stop is the distant future, where the human race is coming to its justly earned end. It is a bleak time, completely devoid of beauty. It becomes a focus of the story, and the hope is that through Beauty (the character) beauty can be preserved. There’s more time travel and there are visits to such places as Faerie and Hell, and as the story progresses, Beauty’s tale becomes entwined with other famous fairy tales (Tam Lin, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel).
The book is called Beauty, but is it beautiful? I didn’t find it so. About 1/4 of the way through, I slammed the book down because of a horrific scene. I was not prepared for it, even though I knew there was something in this book that had upset me when I tried to read it previously. Though I did eventually pick the book up again, I never learned to like it. Beauty’s life was ultimately very sad, and I didn’t enjoy being along for the ride.