Monday, September 10, 2007

No Shame, No Fear by Ann Turnbull

I recommend this book for: high school, fans of historical fiction or love stories

Wow and a half. This is a beautiful love story set in England of the 1600s. Will is a rich merchant's son, recently returned from his studies at Oxford and ready to pursue a trade. Susanna is the daughter of a poor weaver, but economic status isn't the only thing keeping these two apart - she's also a Quaker. People of her faith are persecuted terribly at this time, and Susanna's father is in prison, prompting her to seek a job with a Quaker woman who owns a print shop to help support her mother and younger siblings. Will, who has always been interested in these people who will not renounce their faith even under dire circumstances, becomes especially interested when he learns that Susanna is one of them. Susanna is fantastic - because of her faith, she is not a submissive young woman, but she doesn't fall into the "historical heroine who's a complete rebel" category. She's utterly realistic.

Told in chapters alternating between the two lovers' voices, this is a very beautiful "novel of love and persecution", as the cover proclaims. The historical detail and description of the Quaker faith and Will's exploration of it make a rich backdrop for the love story, and the voices of the young couple are completely honest about both their beliefs, their questions and doubts, and the myriad sensations of being in love for the first time. Some parents may be made uncomfortable by some of the honesty, so this is recommended for high school, but very highly.

And I'm not the only one!

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