THE WITCH'S BRAT by Rosemary Sutcliff
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Sutcliff's prodigious historical tapestry spell-bound with empathy for Lovel, the hunchback whose healing hands secure him a place in the world, and sympathy for crippled stonemason Nick Redpoll, whose healing is Lovel's fulfillment, his giving of himself, not just his skill, to another. Counterpoised is Rahere, early the King's Jongleur, approached furtively, compulsively, until there he "stood in the window embrasure, looking out into the stormy dark where there could not possibly be anything to see. . . and whistling like a starling under the eaves." Later he returns, to the hospice not the Guest Lodging, as a monk not a minstrel, and yet his vision of Saint Bartholomew had shown Rahere how to get the land he needed for a hospital from the devout, uncharitable King. Lovel has longed for his whistle, and now the summons comes, but Brother Anselm, his first champion, lies dying. . . "Think, Lovel," says Rahere, "are you prepared to trade your whole life for an old man's few days?" Fiction threes the choice, perhaps, but moral rigor dictates the decision. Subsequently Lovel will leave Winchester New Minster and join Rahere at Smithfield outside London where St. Bartholomew's Hospital and priory are abuilding -- and while the one took shape in the mind of a harried odd-job boy, tire other grows before knowing eyes, and he lays out and plants Iris own physic garden. But remembering draws him to Nick Redpoll, and recognizing Nick's yearning to shape and set stones again decides him on the treatment that may not cure -- that is bearable to Nick because "Brother Lovel, with a game leg of his own, and that humpy shoulder and all. . . knows." "A good miracle," Rahere pronounces it, half smiling. Brimful -- and how good to have a Sutcliff with wide, young appeal.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1970
ISBN: 0099750805
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Walck
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1970


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