Thursday, December 18, 2008
A True and Faithful Narrative
Sturtevant, Katherine. 2006. A True and Faithful Narrative.
"He came to see me before he sailed for Italy." (3)
A True And Faithful Narrative, the sequel to At The Sign of the Star, has everything I love in a book: a main character I adore, Meg; rich historical detail, it's set in the 1680s; literary references that make the English major in me grin; and romance, a love triangle to be exact. Meg, our narrator, is sixteen. Her father, Miles Moore, is a bookseller. She spends half her time working in his shop--along with her father's apprentice, Will Barlow, and the other half of her time at home. She's got a stepmother, Susannah, and two (maybe more) half-siblings to watch over--Toby and Eleanor and Harry. She's also remained close with her friend, Anne, who is recently married to a much older Mr. Rushworth. Also, if she'll admit it, she's more than a little interested in Anne's brother, Edward Gosse.
What is this one about? Like all good books, it is about everything and nothing. On the surface, it's about Meg's coming of age. She's a young woman who wants to write more than anything. She wants to stay a part of the book selling world. She loves to read. She loves to write. She loves to think and discuss and argue. But her father isn't always happy to indulge her. In fact, with each passing day he becomes concerned that she'll never do as someone's wife if she continues on with her ideas of it being acceptable for women to think, read, and write. He's okay with the thinking and reading--as long as she's submissive and obedient when it comes down to it--but the writing, it must stop. Will, her father's apprentice, doesn't believe that any woman--single, married, widowed, whatever--should write and/or be published. (Her father thinks that no respectable woman will want to be published. True, he sells a few books written by women, but with publication comes a stain to a lady's reputation. And it's nothing that he wants his daughter to experience.
The book is also about love--falling in love with love, falling in love, knowing how to distinguish between the head and the heart, embracing and recognizing genuine sentiment. Edward, when we first meet him in A True and Faithful Narrative, is hoping to recognize signs of love and admiration in Meg. Unfortunately--or fortunately as the case may be--he does not see anything of the sort. Meg has never thought of marrying Edward--he's not a book seller after all--and she's never thought of him as anything other than her best friend's brother. She tells him--in jest--that the present she can bring him back from his travels is a narrative--for him to be captured by pirates and return to tell the tale. Something that much to her dismay happens. Anne and Edward's father dies; Edward in his haste to return to England and settle his affairs makes an unlucky choice in vessels. He's captured--along with a few other men--and sold into slavery. His freedom can be paid with a ransom. But the price is high.
Meg, burdened by guilt, takes this news hard. She won't allow this to be the end. She'll do everything in her power--and then some--to raise the money to set him free. She must see him returned safely. She can't bear to think of him enslaved.
Edward. Will. What's a girl to do? I won't tell too much more about this one. It's about life, love, family, knowing yourself, having a dream, etc. Highly recommended.
"I find that nothing gives as much comfort as a story with no surprises in it." (121)
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews