Grisly Grisell

Charlotte M. Yonge
Lepanto Press
Sewn Hardcover
Grade / Age level: 

Grisly Grisell begins with a bang, in fact, an explosion. Unfortunately, the result is more than a loud noise. Set in medieval England, during the War of the Roses (the reigns of Kings Henry V and Henry VI), the children of the castle are curiously investigating a keg when, to their horror, they discover that it contains gunpowder. The devastating result is a seriously wounded little girl, who is brutally scarred for life. How she, as well as others, deals with this devastating disfigurement affects much of the rest of the story. Can others see behind the ugly scars into the beauty of another's soul?

Grisly Grisell is one of the newly reprinted titles from Lepanto Press' Knights and Ladies series. It is a tale of adventure and good romance. Patience, perseverance and kindness are strong and noble virtues of Grisell, which endear her to others, including the reader.

What sets this book apart from others are the Catholic overtones. For example, Grisell has a positive experience growing up in a convent. In fact, she was hoping to be a nun, when her lack of a dowry and an unsympathetic Abbess (of course she is Spanish and this is British historical fiction) prevented it. Although the Catholic Church is presented, overall, very positively, this particular incident, when the Pope appoints a greedy relative to take over the convent, may warrant some discussion to clarify that there have been some terrible Popes in history, but that the Holy Spirit is still with the Catholic Church. Even though Grisell is prevented from becoming a nun, she is not embittered by the incident against the Church. She patiently accepts it as a cross to bear.

Although the story is fast paced and of interest to older readers (Ages 13-up), it could be read aloud to a younger audience. My only difficulty with the story is that it sometimes was confusing to know, in the larger scheme of the War, who was on whose side. Even if the reader is somewhat muddled, the story does eventually get worked out and the theme within the story carries the reader to the end.

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