The Minstrel's Tale
by Berit Haahr
This historical novel for young readers is full of adventure, peril,
music, and romancebut mainly, its about a girl in 14th-century England
who dresses up as a boy and runs away from home in order to escape a
nasty, arranged marriage. Judith becomes Jude and sets off after a dream
of becoming one of the Kings Minstrels, in an age when women minstrels
were frowned upon.
But with little company apart from a peregrine falcon named Percival,
Judes is a long hard journey through such dangers as bandits, huntsmen,
and an amorous noblewoman who thinks Jude is the man of her dreams. And
when she finally gets to the castle in Kent where the Kings Minstrels
are trained, she has to bear with the malice of other apprentices who
are jealous of her talent, while longing for the love of a Master
Minstrel named Robin who scarcely even gives her a second look.
Thats it, in a nutshell. Those who loved Catherine, Called Birdy and/or
Adam of the Road will love this book too. Indeed, it is a more mature
and well-structured novel than either of those. Passing from scene to
scene in Medieval England, it teaches a great deal about the historic
roles of women, life in a noble manor or royal court, in a convent or
monastery, on the roads and in the wayside inns. Crafted with humor,
sensory delights, varied characters, and marvelous detail, its a first
novel that cries out for a second.
Recommended Age: 12+
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