Lady Marguerite, born in 1347 in Flanders, is determined to control her own destiny and not submit to the will of her domineering father, who wants to form an alliance by marrying her off to a repulsive English nobleman.
Vividly depicting wealthy life in the Middle Ages, this co-authored Dutch import follows the childhood of the spunky daughter of a brutal Flemish count. After a series of losses of newborn sons, Marguerite’s distraught mother is sent off to a monastery, leaving the count’s only child poorly supervised. With plenty of free time, she plays hard with young squires, learns to fight with a sword and ride astride a stallion, becoming too self-assured to accept the demands her father begins to place on her as she reaches a mature age of 13. Marguerite tells her own story in the present tense, a style that at first reads awkwardly as she describes her own birth yet later serves to enhance the edginess of her personality—but also makes it hard to fully develop any other character. Rejecting the advances of both English and French princes, determined instead to marry for love, Marguerite is an engaging if not always historically authentic character who encounters and overcomes numerous obstacles.
Marguerite’s fearless spirit, the fast pace and the setting’s gritty authenticity all elevate this noble historical novel above the rabble. (Historical fiction. 13 & up)