WARNING THIS IS A REALLY LONG REVIEW THAT I WROTE FOR SCHOOL
This book tells the story of 14 year old Catherine, called Birdy by her friends and family. And an interesting group they are. There are her brothers: gentle Edward, a monk, who taught her to write, Thomas, who serves the king, and the abominable Robert. There is Morwenna, her eternally scolding nurse, and Perkin, the goat boy who wants to be a scholar, and is her best friend.
This engaging and heartwarming story begins as Edward asks Catherine, who “utterly loathes” her life, to write an account of her days as the daughter of a beastly minor nobleman in the early Middle Ages. Her first few entries are mainly complaints about sewing and spinning and ticks, but become deeper as she learns of her fatherʼs latest plot to marry her off to a rich man, any rich man, no matter how horrible.
Catherine isnʼt going down without a fight, and manages to save herself from the first few suitors, using a combination of wit, luck, her interesting dowry, and privy fires. Until she comes up against “The Pig”, an old, cantankerous man with manners even worse than her fatherʼs. Catherine is determined not to wed this most persistent suitor, plotting to be a tumbler, a wart charmer, anything to escape this betrothal. But when she uses his gift to save a mistreated bear, her fate seems sealed.
Told in a touching diary format, this is the tale of Catherine of Stonebridge, a funny, thoughtful, scheming, dreaming, and seemingly ignorant girl who has the wisdom to realize that, “some stories are true and some stories are just stories”. Catherine has a powerfully unique voice that will stay with you long after you have closed this bookʼs pages.
Karen Cushmanʼs debut novel includes many details about life in the Middle Ages, including information on healing, clothing, festivals, and food and is a sure favorite for fans of historical fiction.