Bonnie’s Book Bytes: Ransom My Heart by Meg Cabot

Bonnie Godas

Within every little girl, a princess lives. When things get out of control, the fantasy of living in a big castle with a majestic tower brings a feeling of excitement that takes her to a life of color, laughter, and all things beautiful. We all grow up with stories of knights in shining armor in books, movies, and plays. And to live in a world without Cinderella or Snow White is practically unthinkable. To find the handsome prince and live Happily Ever After is all that we can hope for. Enter Mia Thermopolis.

Meg Cabot is the writer of over fifty books, mostly from the genre of adult romance novels, and writes under four pen names, which proves to be extremely confusing when trying to learn more about the author. Cabot is also a hit with adolescent girls, engaging them in a series of books called the Princess Diaries that tells the story of the transformation of an ordinary girl into a beautiful princess. So popular are these books that they are published in 38 countries, and although already a huge success, when Princess Diaries was adapted to film by Disney starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, it took sales and popularity over the top. The complete series of The Princess Diaries is based on the actual life experiences of Cabot and are shown through her main character, Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia. Cabot has a gift of bringing the reader into a life that she can relate to her own-being an awkward teenager trying to get through the ordinary and extraordinary things in her life. As Cabot Writes “All of my books are inspired by real things that either happened to me or that I WISHED would happen to me…The voice of Mia, of course, is taken directly from my own diaries that I kept when I was in high school….”

The last of the series, Ransom My Heart, reveals to us a princess’s coming of age. With the help of Cabot’s strong and descriptive language, Mia undertakes a senior project to write her first romance story. It is a story of a knight named Hugo who comes back from the Crusades with a big secret. Finulla Crais, another secretive character, needs money for her sister’s dowry and kidnaps a knight for his wealth with the intention of holding him hostage but ends up falling in love with him, causing their lives (and the lives of those closest to them) to change forever.

Mia is certainly a fictional character created from Cabot’s real personality. She is a geek in school, an animal rights activist, and claims Greenpeace as her main charity where the books proceeds will go. Mia has a cat named Fat Louie and Cabot, also a cat lover, has a few (her favorite, a one eyed cat named Henrietta).

I don’t think even Cabot herself realized what a big success The Princess Diaries would turn out to be. She even poignantly recalls her own rejection letters from publishers: ” I have a U.S. Postal mailbag in which I keep my rejection letters. It is too heavy too move. The Princess Diaries was rejected seventeen times. For a while I was getting a rejection letter a day for several years (except on Sunday when there was no mail). This however only fueled my conviction that the entire publishing company is completely insane. Now that I am a published author, I have been let in on a secret: I was right along. They are all insane. But then so are the writers, so it’s a nice fit.”

The Princess Diaries have proven that the last place they should be is in that mailbag.

Cabot has shown us that her books are timeless, that it is important to imagine, hope and dream, and that the Princess or Prince in each of our hearts will last forever.