The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen
|The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Tomboy Eleanor is facing marriage - again - but she'd rather be jousting with her brother or trying to rescue her mother from the Lady Tower. Recommended historical fiction for the early teens.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: January 2009|
It's 1540 and at Farleigh Castle Eleanor Hungerford is something of a tomboy, jousting with her young brother and riding her horse like a man. Sometimes her language is more appropriate to the stables than to the castle but that's hardly surprising as it's where she has been happiest for most of the last four years. When she was eleven her father returned home one day and made accusations against her mother before banishing her to the Lady Tower where she has been imprisoned ever since.
At fifteen Eleanor is of marriageable age and she has already been betrothed once but to her relief the groom died before the wedding day. Now she finds that she is to be married to Viscount Stanton. He's young, but insufferable and determined to get the better of her over everything. There's one over-riding reason why she can't leave Farleigh, though. Her father wants her mother dead and it's only by getting food to her secretly that she prevents her mother being poisoned.
Any girl in her early teens is going to love this novel. Eleanor is a heroine you can warm to and I really cared about how she would resolve all the problems which faced her. She's got courage – even foolhardiness at times - and today's teenagers are going to identify with her. She's not afraid to make mistakes but there's a valuable lesson to be learned when she realises that some things cannot be unsaid and that they might have dreadful consequences. There's a certain loss of innocence too when she realises that everyone is not what they seem and that friendship and love are not always obvious and come in strange guises. She faces real moral dilemmas which have life and death outcomes.
There's a wonderful supporting cast too, with Eleanor's father mirroring King Henry VIII in his taking and tiring of wives and wishing to move on to the next. The King himself makes a cameo appearance and so well is he portrayed that I didn't just feel that I could see him – I was sure that I could smell him. The story is backed by meticulous research, so there's a real flavour of the times without a feeling that the reader is being force-fed history. There's a slightly gruesome telling of an execution but it's necessary to the story and not overdone.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
For another story with a strong historical background we can recommend Gatty's Tale by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen is in the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2009.
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