Tuesday, September 25, 2012

With a Sword in My Hand by Jean-Claude van Rijckehem & Pat van Beirs

With a Sword in My HandFirst of all, major thumbs up to the translator, John Nieuwenhuizen. I rarely enjoy translated books...Something gets lost in the translation and from previous experience, they become more telling than showing. Not so in this case.

The story really sucks you in, except for some odd moments where it prattles on about war, a battle, or a fairy tale. The heroine...def a strong one. I think much of the tale was preposterous. I had a very hard time really believing a young girl spoke to her king father the way she did and the bath house scene..oi.

It's a mixture of heartache and humor. The humor shocked me, but first the heartache... Marguerite's mother is the first sign of tragedy. She can't bear a son, and when she does, she goes insane. Marg must grow up without a mother...she becomes somewhat unruly. Her father and her are always on the outs.  She gets into a a ton of trouble, fights with boys, learns to sword fight, pelts men with dung, romps in bath houses... a tad preposterous considering the time, 1300s.

But it was enjoyable and funny. There were random bursts of LOL moments.

Chaplain von Izeghem also insists that all girls keep their ears covered when they enter the church, for it has been positively proven that the impregnation of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Ghost took place through her auditory canal. If you want to make the chaplain lose his place when he is reading the gospel, you just nee to pull your cap off and have a good poke around in your ear. 

"Well, if I put Godfried, Hendrik and you together, it occurs to me that you are the only one who has the manners not to break wind when I'm around. I think that's, let's say, knightly of you."

But all good things come to an end as Marg soon discovers when she's declared the fiance of the prince of the enemy England. At first he woos her, then she sees his acne and changes her mind. I began to dislike her around this point. As her father says, she has more whims than a dog has fleas, and at times she treats people appalling. She makes fun of Phillip and when Godfried comes back from pestilience ravaged towns, she cares not...until it's too late.

And tragedy again befalls her.

Told in the  present tense, but not one iota distracting. A strong heroine who stands up for herself. A major dose of humor. And, oh, one really does feel as though they are medieval days as they read this.

Five bikes. I bought this via Book Depo a year ago.

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