THE MERRYMAID by Mollie Hardwick


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Another cozy period tale (16th-century England) from Hardwick, who--as in her novelization of Upstairs, Downstairs and her own Shakespeare's Girl (1983)--is at her best when pacing her stories with bright, cheerful people and accentuating the balmiest of the grimmer aspects of the past epoch. Young Jacquette had sailed with her father from their native France to perform for Henry VIII, ill and snarly since having wife Catherine beheaded. If only Jacquette's father, a jongleur (an entertainer of many talents), had not chosen a song about a doomed ""Caterina""! So it's back on the road, where robbers kill Jacquette's father, who'd taught her all he knew. After some chancy days, Jacquette is adopted by a good, formidable lady, who five years later, will affiance Jacquette to a pompous local. But at the Fair. . .who's that charming young man travelling with mummers, the one who's making such a hash of conjuring? In no time, Jacquette is answering the call of the open road and running away to be ""handfasted"" in marriage to Alan Thornwood. Together the two babes in the woods face the perils of the road: murderous robbers, jail--this time for ""popery"" (it is still Protestant England)--sickness, etc. Finally, the pair are taken in by kind Sir Nicholas Brome as his private minstrels. In spite of the sad fact that the magic has gone from Jacquette's marriage to Alan, and she can't stop thinking about Sir Nicholas's heir, Harry, the days are happy. But someone dear is doomed to be burned at the stake in the reign of Queen Mary! The rescue is a splendid team effort. With all the usual hedgerow fragrances and flights and frights of life on the road, a mild but agreeable period posset.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's