Troubadour

by Mary Hoffman
ages: 12+
First sentence: “A small group of monks was making its way down to the river crossing.”
Review copy sent to me by publisher.

I generally like historical fiction. I generally like the pre-Renaissance time period. I generally like stories set in France. I sometimes like unrequited love. I generally like girls who know their own minds and set out to do what they want in spite of the odds.

But, even though this book had all those elements, it just didn’t do anything for me. In fact, it did so little that I abandoned it a third of the way in.

Perhaps it was me; it is August, I’m a bit distracted in my life right now, and I’m not focusing terribly well on complex books. Fluff is about my speed…

But, it also could be the book: there’s so much that Hoffman’s trying to bite off here. Not only is it a sweeping work of historical fiction, but there’s freedom of religion conflict, portraits of troubadour life, Medieval French politics… perhaps it was a bit much for a single story. That, and the narrator kept flipping between Elinor — our heroine who leaves her noble life for that of a troubadour so she won’t have to marry the man her father picked out; Bertran — the troubadour Elinor loves who is also a follower of the religious sect the Cathars whom the Catholic Church persecuted; and Pope Innocent II. It was a bit much for me.

And, perhaps the story would have picked up as it went along. I didn’t have the patience or fortitude to stick it out, though. And, perhaps that means I’ll be missing out on an excellent historical novel.

But then, maybe not.

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