Medieval Scotland, a time of French-speaking Normans occupying the land with Gaelic-speaking Scots, a time of jousts, of miraculous healings at famous sites, and of fairies in the forest.
Sixteen-year-old Jenny, the second daughter of a lord, is thrust into the role of the eldest daughter, including marrying well, when her sister Isabel shames the family by sneaking out of her father’s house with the intention of marrying a knight. But everything went wrong, and Isabel is back in the family in penance, awaiting her fate - will she have to spend the rest of her life with Cistercian nuns? Jenny is concerned for her sister, who seems to have shut out her entire family.
In the meantime, Jenny attracts the attention of a well-placed Scottish family, which has been charged with finding King David’s brother, Earl William, a wife. Eager to please her father, she travels to various households, attends jousts, and tries hard to win the Earl’s (a well-known womanizer) affection. Yet a strange newcomer, rumoured to have been touched by fairies, has come into her life. Although her father has warned her not to, Jenny can't help visiting the nearby ruined house, where Tam is residing. Tam is unlike any man she has ever met, and she finds herself confiding in him. But Is he helping her or is he having fun with her? And why does she feel so strangely attracted to this man who doesn’t seem to be from this life?
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JANET McNAUGHTON is the multi-award-winning author of many books, including The Secret Under My Skin, An Earthly Knight and her most recent novel, Dragon Seer, which was shortlisted for the prestigious TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, as well as both the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the Book of the Year for Children Award. McNaughton lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with her family. Visit her online at www.janetmcnaughton.ca.From School Library Journal:
Grade 8 Up--Love and religious and political intrigue abound in this retelling of the legend of Tam Lin set in 12th-century Scotland. When her older sister, Isabel, disgraces the family, it is up to 16-year-old Jenny to save her father's reputation and prosperity. Then, she meets Tam Lin in the forest and befriends him. Stories of his insanity and odd behavior fuel the locals' fear of him, so Jenny keeps their relationship a secret. When she is brought to the royal court as a potential bride for the king's womanizing brother William, she takes an instant dislike to him. She also realizes that she is in love with Tam Lin, and, after a hazily described night of passion, she becomes pregnant. The betrothal ceremony for Jenny and William is set against her wishes, but a last second burst of courage allows her to reveal her secret. Following the ancient legend, the teen braves the fairy queen to rescue Tam from his enchantment, and the young lovers are reunited. The author does an excellent job of interweaving legend and history to create an exciting and engaging tale. A side story about Isabel is equally well developed. The women, though bound by tradition and societal standing, show gumption and fortitude, and the role of the early church in politics and daily life is interestingly explored. Fans of Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard (Houghton, 2001), also a retelling of Tam Lin, will enjoy this novel as well.--Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
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