Sunday, October 16, 2005

I, Coriander

The novel is set in 17th century London and in a fairy world. Reading about this era in London takes me back a number of years (we won't say how many) to my study of English history with Dr. A.J. Henderson. Oliver Cromwell was not royalty, and yet he was able to bring Charles I to trial and execution. Cromwell was a follower of the puritan faith. Oliver Cromwell remains one of the most disliked figures in British history.

The story is told by Coriander Hobie, the daughter of a wealthy silk merchant in the 1650s. The Hobie family were not supporters of Cromwell and his followers; they were Royals. The young girl writes this story from the light of seven candles -- each section ends when one of the candles goes out.

Her mother, Eleanor, dies when Coriander is very young. early in the story Coriander indicaates tot he reader that there is some connection with the fairy world through her mother. Thomas Hobie feels forced into marrying Maud, a puritan, to save his family from being jailed by the Cromwell government, the Puritans. Maud is in league with a radical puritan minister, Arise. Together they bring nothing but grief to Coriander's life. Her father flees for his life, and Maud and Arise put Coriander in a chest to die. She enters a fairy world from this chest where time is meaningless. To everyone's amazement Coriander is alive and well when she is removed from the chest at the age of 17. The book is a page-turner with kidnapping, murder, and romance and a cast of striking characters.

Sally Gardner has presented us with a novel that is part fairy tale and part historical fiction. An interesting fact about the author is that she is severely dyslexic - she never learned to read or write until she was fourteen.

You can read an excerpt.

Puritans play a role in many historical fiction novels set during this time period.


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