Burdened by guilt over her father’s accident and seeking adventure, Belle Bellfounder joins a band of medieval pilgrims on a journey to Canterbury Cathedral, finding romance and danger along the way.
After her mother’s death and father’s crippling injury, Belle takes refuge in fairy tales, compulsive counting and self-harm. With little fanfare or preparation, she decides to travel to Canterbury and pray for her father’s recovery, a move that embroils her in romantic triangles, espionage and cross-class flirting. On the road, Belle garners the courteous attentions of Squire Walter de Pleasance, a charming young man with a dark secret, and Luke, a bespectacled scribe (to Chaucer) and a future monk with a most unholy temper. When Belle runs afoul of the truly vile Summoner Seekum—whose nauseatingly described exterior matches his lecherous, kleptomaniac and blackmailing personality—she finds herself entangled in political plots surrounding King Richard II. Grant (Blue Flame, 2008, etc.) demonstrates an affectionate and thorough knowledge of the source material (as seen in an author’s note and timeline), but Belle’s good fortune, self-absorption and inexplicable attractiveness cannot fully compensate for plot holes and underdeveloped characters; she is neither the most reliable nor sympathetic of narrators.
Romance, issue book and spy novel—as varied an offering as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)