Elise Dalriss hears her great-granddaughter telling the tale of a princess in a tower who is awakened by a prince. It brings up memories of her past. Elise was the companion to the princess who slept in the tower, and she is the only one left who knows what really happened to the princess, and her kingdom. Elise worked as a servant in the palace, and became close to the queen, and later the princess. While Beauty Slept, is Elise's version of the events leading up to a princess sleeping in a tower when a prince comes to save her.
This was a darker version of the story of Sleeping Beauty. It brings a harsher reality to the tale. There is less magic causing problems for the characters, and more of a combination of tragic events that take over the lives of the characters. There was too much foreshadowing of the doom that is going to descend on the royal family. I think this was unnecessary, given that most of us know Sleeping Beauty is not always a happy tale, and bad things happen to the characters. It was distracting from the interesting plot.
I like that this story highlights how actual events can be changed as the story is repeated over time. Even taking on magical elements in the tale until it becomes a simple fairy tale that is commonly told. It gives you the feeling that the story is more of a history or historical fiction than a fairy tale. I thought that this added a lot to the book.
If you enjoy fairy tales and retellings of those tales, I would recommend reading this book.