This sequel to The Squire’s Tale (1998) finds Morris’s affable young hero, Terence, still serving the legendary Sir Gawain. The kingdom of Camelot, where they are living, is in despair over Queen Guinevere’s affair with Sir Lancelot; when Gawain is challenged to meet the Knight of the Green they set off on a new quest. Terence is still young, but he is no longer the novice of the previous novel; when Gawain is imprisoned by the treacherous Marquis of Alva and scheduled for execution, it’s up to Terence to save not only his knight, but the beautiful and spirited Lady Eileen. The three of them come upon an enchanted castle, where the lord of the realm turns out to be the Green Knight in disguise: Gawain is forced to pass two additional challenges in order to regain face. There is a well-crafted but tumultuous unfolding of events, and an author’s note in which Morris explains his abiding affection and respect for Gawain; this personal touch may send readers straight off to Chaucer. Even Arthur and Guinevere make up in this engaging adventure, an ideal follow-up to the first book and just as full of characters who are brave, loyal, and admirably human. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-91211-3

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999


Masquerading as a man, a young woman sets out to find her friend’s killer in New York and London at the turn of the century; disguise proves to be simultaneously liberating and imprisoning in Lewin’s big-canvas historical novel. No one is who she or he seems to be, not the gender-bending heroine Jackie who spends most of her life as Jack so she can play baseball; not her best friend, Nance, a black performer who “passes” as white, and who dies of a stab wound in the opening pages. Cleverly structured and meticulously detailed so that every piece of information neatly clicks into the jigsaw-puzzle ending, the novel runs on two tracks. One chronicles Jackie’s past history starting with her grandmother (whose incredible life both mirrors and influences her granddaughter’s); the other details her current adventures as the avenger of her best friend, along with a surprise unveiling of her father’s murderer. After a vivid trip through 19th-century America, the novel concludes in and around the music halls of London, where Jackie’s past and present converge. The derring-do climax fails to ignite, for this is a book in which the journey surpasses the destination, but overall Lewin produces a grand adventure that readers won’t soon forget. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-6225-4

Page Count: 520

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999


A girl’s interest in family history overlaps a coming-of-age story about her vestigial understanding of her mother after death, and her own awareness of self and place in the world. Junior high-school student Carrie Schmidt identifies strongly with the missing girls of 1967’s headlines about runaways. Carrie’s mother is dead and she has just moved in with her grandmother, Mutti, who embarrasses her with her foreign accent and ways. Carrie’s ideal is her friend Mona’s mother, a “professional” who dresses properly, smells good, and knows how to set out a table; readers will grasp the mother’s superficiality, even though Carrie, at first, does not. Mutti has terror in her past, and tells Carrie stories of the Jews in WWII Vienna, and of subsequent events in nine concentration camps; these are mined under the premise that Carrie needs stories for “dream” material and her interest in so-called lucid dreaming, a diverting backdrop that deepens the story without overwhelming it. Mutti’s gripping, terrible tales and the return of an old friend who raised Carrie’s mother when she was sent to Scotland at age nine awaken in Carrie a connection to her current family, to her ancestry, and, ultimately, to a stronger sense of self. This uncommon novel from Metzger (Ellen’s Case, 1995, etc.) steps out of the genre of historical fiction to tell a story as significant to contemporary readers as to the inhabitants of the era it evokes. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-87777-8

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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