Fic Title: Picture This
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13, n/a
Genre: humor, angst, romance, Harlequin
WIP?: complete, ~125,000 words
Why This Must Be Read:
Picture this: a sheltered young woman finds herself wooed by a spoiled young man who appears at first glance to be a jerk, but proves to have hidden depths. Can she get over her initial bad impression and learn to love him? Sounds like a romance novel, doesn't it? Or even the plot of Beauty and the Beast? What it actually is, is the plot of this fabulous story of how Belle and Gaston both grow up a bit (okay, Gaston grows up a lot) and learn to love each other as they are, not as they would wish each other to be.
I'll admit it, I only started reading this novel because it was huge and because the idea intrigued me. Man am I glad I did! TrudiRose does a brilliant job with this fic, from the writing (spot-on, with clever twists on canon dialogue), to the backstory (no Beast, but every character in town has a history, even if we don't get all of the details of each one), to the characterizations.
Characterizations: Disney's movie is good for what it is, but it is still directed for children and, as such, is very black and white. Trudi's fic is geared towards adults and thus she plays in shades of grey. Belle isn't perfect, for one thing. Even in the movie she's biased against those who don't read (and remember, in this time period the vast majority of the populous would be illiterate) and she is distinctly unimpressed with everyone in the village. Gaston, on the other hand, isn't completely worthless. He's a brilliant hunter and, yes, while he brags shamelessly, this does mean that he has a knowledge and familiarity with the forest that not many people can match. He also never backs down from a challenge and is highly loyal (even if he hasn't yet learned how to demonstrate that loyalty). Most importantly, he isn't a sociopath (as he clearly is in the movie).
Ahem. Anyway, by going deeper into Belle and Gaston's characters, Trudi succeeds in making both of them much more human and likeable. I found myself totally invested in their rocky but burgeoning relationship, from Belle's attempts to turn Gaston into a great reader to Gaston's discovery that being nice makes him even *more* popular. By the end of the story, I was a little in love with Gaston myself and Belle has learned far more about understanding differences than she ever learned in the movie.
TrudiRose started this enormous undertaking with a simple idea: would it be possible to plausibly write a romance between Belle and Gaston? The answer is a resounding *yes*!