Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley (2007)
Description: A baby girl, Bella, is born to a mother who dies in childbirth. Bella's furious father sends her away to be raised among peasants, where she is befriended by Julian, a prince, a fourth son who has no place in his family. When they are both teenagers, Julian treats Bella cruelly; then he is sent away to a warring kingdom as a hostage for peace. Soon after, Bella is recalled by her father and finds herself unhappily living with him and his new family, including a stepsister who is a handmaiden at the palace. It is from this young woman that Bella learns about an invasion that will bring about Julian's death, which Bella is determined to prevent.
Review: A most interesting take on the Cinderella story, albeit a somewhat depressing one. From birth, Bella is despised by her somewhat mad father and sent to live with the wet nurse. Here, she is well below her station, but loved as one of their own children. Later, Bella is ripped from the family she knows and loves to her father's cold home. She learns her childhood friend, the prince, is in trouble and has to ride to his rescue. There are some deviations from the classic story, however, they were most interesting. Stanley also gives great lessons in the book. That love and loyalty are very important. This was a delightful read and definitely worth a look.
Score 3.5 out of 5