June 13th, 2005



This weekend's YA reading was Julie Hearn's The Minister's Daughter, set during the English Civil War.

It was well-written, and as I read, I definitely wanted to know how it came out, but for me it wasn't an ultimate reading experience. There are three stories going on about very disparate characters: Nell, the granddaughter of the village "cunning woman"; and the two daughters of a strict Protestant minister, Patience and Grace. The book is mostly from Nell's pov, and I had the most sympathy for her, especially when she was enduring her grandmother's slow decline; but I think her plotline ends a little too easily, especially in comparison to how the sisters are written. She is a parallel to the sisters in some ways, but in others felt as if she came from a completely different book.

The sections about the sisters are narrated partially in the present, partially from an unhappy future, and I think it's that which made me not love the book as much as I might have, since my taste is for happy endings, or at least calm ones. I felt the sisters' narrative had considerably more depth and complexity than Nell's, yet at the same time, I didn't like them, either of them.

The fairy/pisky lore in The Minister's Daughter is splendid. I have no idea if it's accurate or not, but it felt right for the book, was consistent, and seemed to extend beyond the book's confines.

It wasn't perfect for my taste, but I still recommend this book.