Will Lady Jeanette sacrifice her freedom to save her family's honor?Kailana says...
Lady Jeanette Avenel is the free-spirited second daughter of a nobleman in twelfth-century Scotland. When her elder sister, Isabel, isdishonored, Jenny is asked to relinquish her freedom in an attempt to save thegood name of her father's house. But will the affection of a mysterious young man lead to Jenny's ruin as well?
Lady Jeanette battles tradition and magic amid a world alive with medieval pageantry. Hers is the timeless story of a young woman who seeks to control her own destiny to win a better life for herself and her sister.
This is an example of buying a book and totally not paying attention to what it is about. I read about this book, I assume on a blog, but it was quite some time ago. So, I finally decide that I am going to buy some of the books that have been on my Amazon wish list for a while, and this is one of them, so I added it to the cart. I did not know I was going to be posting about it on this blog, though, I thought it was historical fiction. Then, I thought it had an Arthurian twist to it. I mean, there had to be something historical about it that made me buy it. I get to reading it and I discovered that I had no idea what I was reading. This book is in fact a folk tale retelling, Tam Lin to be exact. Anyways, on with the review.
Even though I had no idea what I was reading, I really liked this book. It could be considered historical fiction, and actually, the mention of anything fantasy is very minor, so it did not have to go in this blog, but I chose to anyways. For the most part, it is a historical fiction novel. The two girls in the book have a slightly unconventional father, which is what happen when he has lost two wives and decided that he is not going to marry again. That being said, though, the girls are still held to the conventions of the day. The story is told through the eyes of Jeanette. Her world has suddenly been turned upside down because her typically conventional older sister had a run in with a knight that caused her to be cast off from society and destined for a life in the nunnery. Very historical fiction because it did not matter what this knightly fellow did, it was automatically the girls fault that it happened.
Jeanette never had to run the household before, her sister always did it, so she is trying to do her best for her family. That also extends to marriage. Suddenly her marriage is important because her sister is out of the running. She always counted on a simple and quiet marriage, even marrying for love, and now she is the forerunner in the marriage game and she might have to risk her freedom for the sake of her family. So, as you can see, it is a very conventional historical fiction novel. It is only when she meets Tam Lin, the young man that has taken up residence in his old family home, that the fantasy aspect presents itself. Re-tellings of the Tam Lin story seem to be quite popular nowadays. If you know the story, you roughly know what happens to Jeannette and Tam, but if you do not, I am not going to ruin it for you.
What I will say is that I really liked this book. Believe it or not, the reason I picked it up off the to be read pile is that my sister was into my books (rare, as she is not a reader) and picked this one out of the pile. When she finished it she told me she read it in one sitting, and I figured if the book to make my sister read, it was a worthwhile read. I am glad I read it, and I strongly recommend it. I look forward to seeing what other books this author has for me to enjoy.
Let me start by saying that I absolutely adored this book. It's by far the best story based on the Tam Lin myth I've read and, as I only borrowed it from our library, it's going to be the very next book I buy! For those not familiar, the Tam Lin folk ballad tells the story of a young man who was under the Faerie Queen's enchantment and a maiden who fell in love with him.
Everything about this book was perfect for me. I loved the heroine, Jenny because she seemed very real. Our story takes place in 1162 and these were bad times to be a woman. Many, many a writer tries to make historical heroines into carbon copy of our standards of today's independent woman and thus seem extremely out of place. Not so for McNaughton. Although our heroine is a bit of a free spirit [I am sure there were exceptions to every rule even back then] she still torn between what she feels and how she must act. One perfect example is how, at one point, she treats some of her servants. This is a time when servants could be beaten and mistreated and no one would see anything wrong with that. Jenny, having grown up without a mother to teach her how to run a household and seeing how some of the other nobles act, thinks that maybe that's how a lady of her station should behave. Nonetheless she still feels bad and sad if this is how she is expected to act. When she sees another noble girl actually being kind to the servants she understands that she was wrong and makes up for it.
Tam Lin is, well, perfect in his role. Really, there is not much I could say since I found him to be just wonderful. I also loved the look into the harsh life people had back then. It was hard to swallow some of the men and how they viewed and treated women but we all know our history and it would have hurt the book a lot if Janet had tried to make it fit with our ideals today.
The love story is beautiful and I must say I enjoyed the secondary story of Jenny's sister Isabel. She was a fallen woman yet she was merely a victim of a time where women where blamed for just about everything. LOL.
My verdict, as if you haven't guessed by now, is to run to your local bookstore and get your hands on this jem. You won't be disappointed!
A solid 5 out of 5!