In this lyrically written story based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, Elise overhears her great-granddaughter recounting the legend as she heard it in the town square. Elise, however, knows the 'true' story of Sleeping Beauty as she experienced it in her younger days and decides the time has come to set the story straight. Knowing that the circumstances of her birth were the reason her mother left employment at the castle of St. Elsip, fourteen-year-old Elise leaves the home of her indifferent stepfather after her mother's death and seeks employment as a chambermaid at the castle. Before long she catches the eye of the queen and Elise's life is forever changed. After the queen seeks help from the king's evil aunt Millicent, the beautiful Princess Rose is born. Elise becomes a surrogate sister to the little princess and takes on the responsibility of protecting Rose from Millicent, who has her own plans for the kingdom. Caught between two worlds -- that of a peasant girl and a favorite servant of the queen -- loyal Elise has many difficult choices to make and much to learn.
Set in a fairy tale medieval kingdom, Elise experiences romance, war and pestilence. Although not too heavy on romance or magic, While Beauty Slept may still appeal to readers who enjoy historical romance, fantasy or the "upstairs, downstairs" tension of Downton Abbey.
Reviewed by nw, 01/14. Other reviews by nw.