relationships

This time, Rapunzel’s story

rueSold for Endless Rue by Madeleine E. Robins
Published by Forge Books, May 14, 2013 (Historical Fiction)

My rating: I’ll definitely go here again / Outstanding adventure! (4.5)

In keeping with our theme of late – that is, fairy tale retellings, I add to our list Rapunzel’s story, as told by Madeleine E. Robins, in Sold for Endless Rue.

As the blurb says, this book does explain why Rapunzel’s mother/witch locked her in a tower. It tells the story compellingly and convincingly, with fully believable human failings and motives. A masterful blend of historical fiction and the familiar “Rapunzel” fairy tale, Sold for Endless Rue enchants readers with stories about the three women central to the original fairy tale.

In the first narrative, Laura, a young girl running from captivity, hides in the home of a mountainside healer named Crescia. She becomes the healer’s apprentice, studying and working hard to continue Crescia’s good works. Eventually, her tale brings her to Salerno, where she studies to be the first female physician in her lifetime. In the second tale, Agnesa, young wife of a merchant family scion, moves in next door to the medica, and they become friendly neighbors. In the third and final story, Laura’s young daughter struggles between doing her duty to her adoptive mother and following her heart.

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I’d go anywhere with Susanna Kearsley’s books – even The Splendour Falls

splendour fallsThe Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
First published December 7th, 1995. Re-published by Sourcebooks Landmark, January 1st, 2014 (Fiction / Mystery)

My rating: I’d follow the author ANYWHERE, but this vacation wasn’t as good as the others.

Disclaimer: Susanna Kearsley is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her a year or two ago, and The Rose Garden and The Shadowy Horses are my two favorites.

Emily Braden is a young woman who became a cynic after the divorce of her parents. Her cousin, Harry, who has always been close to her, convinces her to go on a holiday with him to relax. He suggests they meet in Chinon, because he has some research to do there, dealing with the long-lost treasure of Isabelle of Angouleme, wife of King John of England (the villain in Robin Hood, brother of Richard the Lionhearted, son of Eleanor of Aquitaine, English king in the 13th century, for those who aren’t familiar with him), supposedly hidden in the underground tunnels that permeate the city. Emily decides to go, realizing she can’t depend on easily-distracted Harry, but willing to vacation on her own. Once she gets there, she meets several of her fellow guests and a few of the locals, too. As she explores the city, and gets to know the people who live and stay there, she starts to worry about her cousin, who (unsurprisingly) has not shown up. As she delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding the hidden treasure and the death of a local man, her feeling that something is out of place grows stronger, until she is fully involved in finding her cousin and solving the mysteries.

I love Chinon, and I’ve never been; I love the waywardness and absentmindedness of Emily’s family members, and the contrast between her family and the dependability of some the people she meets in Chinon. I love the slow reveal of the character of the city, and of the development of the relationships between characters. The plot is driven mostly by the mysteries, and by the relationships among the secondary characters. Both of which are interesting (actually, I found the latter fascinating). Kearsley is a master at creating complex, vivid, and unique characters, and weaving the relationships between them. The plot takes its time, the pacing meandering, to give enough space to the city and characters. The ending was shocking, in more ways than one, but it was also superb. (more…)