Changeling by Philippa Gregory
|Changeling by Philippa Gregory|
Changeling is bestselling author, Philippa Gregory’s YA debut. I haven’t read any of Philippa Gregory’s adult novels and wasn’t too sure what to expect. What caught my eye was that the plot revolved around a teen girl being suspected of witchcraft in 1453.
The story is set in Italy in the year 1453. Goodlooking, clever, and rumoured to be a changeling, seventeen year old Luca is a novice priest. He is sent out on a religious mission to map the fears that are rife throughout Christendom because many suspect that the end of days is near. Luca’s search brings him to a nunnery where strange and deadly events have taken place since the arrival of, Isolde, the new and unwilling abbess.
Changeling is a work of fiction that weaves an historical adventure that will especially appeal to younger teens. It is a very light and easy read. The story emphasis is on mystery and action with only limited period detail – just enough so that you can get a feel for the surroundings and settings of the story. And amidst the witchcraft, there is a lot of humour in this novel. The narrator also provides a lot of clues along the way so it is not a taxing read.
Luca, Isolde, Freize, Brother Peter and Ishraq are all likeable characters. There is a lot of banter between them and various friendships develop that cross social and religious divisions. The humorous banter and master-servant relationships reminded me a lot of the BBC television series, Merlin. Fans of that may well enjoy Changeling.
Dealing with witchcraft, the novel also places great emphasis on the lack of rights for women during this time. Readers may realise that what they take for granted today was not the way things used to be. For this bit alone, I would recommend this novel to teen girls.
Possible romance is alluded to frequently but stereotypes of feminine and masculine beauty also run throughout the story. I wonder what teens will make of this and whether or not they think it jars with the bits about gender inequalities? For readers hoping for very steamy romance, you will be disappointed although there is an underlying sexual current that runs throughout the novel that might be tantalising.
This looks like it is going to be the first in a number of books. Who knows where this strongwilled band and their merry fellows will take us? To the end of Christendom and back perhaps?
I think this book is suitable and could be enjoyed by readers 12+.
Simon and Schuster, 24 May 2012, London
This copy: uncorrected proof from Simon and Schuster