October 02, 2006

A Girl of the 17th Century

17th century England is an astonishing place, filled with the plays of Shakespeare, the sermons of John Dryden, the wit of poets, and the shocking existence of Aphra Behn, the widow playwright who is turning England on her ear. Scandalized that a woman is writing, the English nevertheless buy her plays and talk about her all over London.

Meg Moore has never seen a play, but she prefers to read them, anyway. She is the daughter of a bookseller, and her glorious fate is to be her father's heir. Her life At the Sign of the Star is something that consumes her: words, books, the smell of paper and ink are what she knows. Meg loves talking; her swift wit and tart tongue get her into lots of trouble; Meg loves reading -- and she'll read anything. Meg also loves writing, and the idea of the printed word; since her mother has died, Meg knows that this world will be hers, forever. Her father has put her as his sole heir, and his bookshop, copyrights and literary interests are all hers... unless he marries.

And then, to her shock, he does.

Meg has been an only child, her father's only family, and his only heir for so long that he never thought she would have to worry about anything. With such a handsome dowery, she knew she'd have men lining up to marry her. Now, not only has her father married, he is determined to have a son to carry on his fortunes. Her new stepmother seems bent on teaching her servant skills. Will Meg find herself bundled off to work for people she doesn't know?

In a time when women had little or no control over their fortunes or families, Katherine Sturtevant's Meg is a strong-minded and spirited girl who shines out in this piece of historical fiction. The 1600's come to life with London's filthy, cobbled streets; in a time when ideas were the fuel to change the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read this. Katherine Sturtevant read from it during the YA portion of LitQuake last year and it definitely caught my attention.