No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, November 06, 2005

#98: Fire, Bed and Bone -- Henrietta Branford

A children's book, telling the story of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt from the point of view of an old dog whose master becomes a revolutionary. (That's a word that seems quite out of place, here, yet is wholly accurate: revolutionary, one who revolts.)

The dog-ness of the narrator (I don't recall her having a name -- the humans refer to her as 'old dog') is never overplayed, but it's a very canine perspective. She lives wild for a time, but is always drawn back to humans and especially to Rufus, her master, and his much younger wife Comfort. There's an especially evocative bit about how she can't not come when he whistles for her, and how it's hard to resist the orders of a crueller master, because she's a working dog and when he hunts, she must hunt too.

The dog understands human language -- otherwise this book would have little plot, save for puppies and rabbit-hunting and the natural landscape -- but other than that, she's not humanised. The events that play out around her, some of which are pretty grim, are described because of their effect on her.

Very well-written, and paints a convincing picture of medieval rural life in England. Recommended for, hmm, older children -- 10 and above, at a guess.

reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place

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