A True and Faithful Narrative

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
A True and Faithful Narrative Book Poster Image
Engrossing read with strong 17th-century heroine.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Discussions of racial and religious differences. Negroes are referred to as "brutes."


Imagined and real beatings of a slave and a child, a hanging.


Mentions of "tumbl[ing] maids," and "proof of virginity." Meg wonders what it would be like to have "warm and eager hands sliding beneath [her] shift."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and drunkenness, smoking a pipe mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there are some sexual references: "tumbl[ing] maids," "proof of virginity," and "warm and eager hands sliding beneath my shift."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymoviemadness April 9, 2008

Engrossing historical fiction

Tweens and up will be okay with this book. Has a strong female character. There is also a man who looks beyond stereotypes and is interested in all kinds of c... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bytaryn kylie September 23, 2011

the nerddy love

i think that falling in love with a guy in the book store is romantic for the nerddy type.

What's the story?

In 17th-century London, Meg, the daughter of a bookseller and publisher, is courted by two young men: Will, her father's apprentice, and Edward, brother of her closest friend. But Meg is not comfortable with the idea of marriage -- she wants to be a writer, despite her father's firm prohibition. So when Edward comes to tell her that he is traveling to Livorno, and asks what he should bring her back as a gift, she blithely suggests that he get captured and enslaved by pirates, so that she will have material for a story to write.

Much to her horror, that is exactly what happens, and word comes back that the Muslims who have him are demanding a huge ransom. Guilt-ridden, Meg works tirelessly to raise the money. But when Edward finally comes home, he is a changed man, and the story he begins recounting to her is not what she expected.

Is it any good?

Written in a formal, exacting style meant to give a flavor of the time period without actually resorting to post-Shakespearean language, this sequel is not for reluctant readers. Those with more experience will find it thoroughly engrossing, and it stands well on its own for those who haven't read the first book. A TRUE AND FAITHFUL NARRATIVE combines a winning heroine who is independent but not anachronistic, a detailed glimpse of Reformation England, romance, adventure, literary references, and a bold shift of viewpoint.

That change of perspective, embodied in Edward's mixed feelings about his ordeal and his open-minded understanding of Muslim culture (at odds with the beliefs of his friends and family), gives the book depth and resonance with our own times. Without once sounding didactic, the author gives modern readers as much to think about as she gives Meg, and discussion groups will have much to debate in Edward's painful revelations of the world he has experienced so brutally.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the conflict between Christians and Muslims, and the parallels with our own times. Why would Edward have the ideas he has about Muslims after his experiences? Why does he want to tell his story?

Book details

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