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Monday, October 15, 2018

Just Unearthed... The Witch’s Brat by Rosemary Sutcliff!

Lurking on the shelves in my old bedroom at my mother’s place was this book which I can’t remember even buying let alone reading! A “new” Rosemary Sutcliff book is always welcome, though.

It’s set in the 12th century, some years before the war between King Stephen and Empress Maud, that war which Ellis Peters writes about in her Brother Cadfael series. King Henry I is still on the throne. A young boy, Lovel, a villain, is driven from his village soon after his grandmother’s death, because he has a hunchback and the superstitious villagers hate him. His grandmother was the village wise woman, but while they accepted a witch among them when she was useful, her disabled grandson is another matter.

Lovely finds his way to a monastery, where he is looked after and makes himself useful, discovering, eventually, that he is indeed the “mender” his grandmother told him he was. He learns to read, helps in the herbalist’s garden and the infirmary and eventually decides to take his vows.

But someone inspiring comes into his life: Rahere, first the King’s jongleur, then the founder of the hospital of St Bartholomew in Smithfield. Rahere was a real historical figure. He has his own novel, St Bartholomew’s Man by Mary Delorme, whose son sent me a copy in PDF a while back. In this novel, Rahere says to Lovel that he simply felt that there had to be something better than making the king laugh after supper.

Lovel goes to join him in his project just before taking his final vows, and helps another young boy to fulfil his own dream.

I read it pretty much in a single sitting. It’s a slender volume, only about twenty thousand words, if that, aimed at children, an easy read.

 It’s easily available from the publisher, Penguin, or in ebook. 


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - it does sound an interesting book to read ... thanks for letting us know about both of the books - cheers Hilary

AJ Blythe said...

Agree with Hilary, it does sound interesting.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I enjoyed it! 🙂