Monday, August 13, 2012

Minstrel's Tale Book Review

The Minstrel's Tale
by Anna Questerly

A fairly typical American teenage girl is uprooted from her routines and comfort zone when her father inherits an estate in France and the family moves to the French countryside. At first Anna is distressed to part with her friends, internet access as well as a boy she had a crush on. But her dad tells her it will be an adventure and broaden their horizons.

While exploring the castle, Anna discovers the memoirs of an ancestor, a minstrel from the 14th century. As Ann and her father work to translate the old diaries, they become immersed in another time and place.
The minstrel recounts his meeting a boy fleeing from ruthless and powerful enemies. He doesn't know who the boy is but takes him into his care. He makes the mysterious child his apprentice as they travel across Europe.

Hundreds of smaller stories are embedded in this novel of historical fiction, tales the minstrel tells during his travels. These short medieval fairy tales and fables are my favorite part of the book. The vignettes are strange and clever.

The novel has sort of a Matrioshka doll structure: stories within stories within stories. However it is well done. This device often works to contrast different times and places.

The minstrel and his charge encounter many dangers and adventures. The pacing was well done, the book was hard to put down.

I recommend this book.

-- Reviewed by Hop David

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