A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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."
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.