When young Englishwoman Grace Darling spots a wreck offshore, she enlists the aid of her father to rescue the survivors--an act that brings her the adoration and rejection of her nation. By the author of A Chance Child.
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At dawn on a stormy morning in 1838, Grace Darling, 22, a lighthouse keeper's daughter off England's northeast coast, spied a wreck and nine survivors. Knowing the lifeboat from shore would be too late to save them and that if none of the castaways could help on the return journey the rescuers too would perish, she and her father--in a heroic rescue--used a boat normally rowed by three men. When the lifeboat arrived at the lighthouse, its crew was furious at losing the rescue bounty. Thus began an even greater test of Grace's character: extraordinary nationwide adulation for her brave deed, bafflingly countered by neighbors' jealousy and anger. Though she invents dialogue and centers on Grace's honest and conscientious moral struggle, Paton Walsh's splendid narrative of this true event is as much an imaginative reconstruction as a novel, frequently using direct quotes from contemporary accounts, journals, and letters. The portrait that emerges is imbued with vibrant reality; as gifts (including money) and letters pour in and the curious throng her home, Grace responds with intelligence, dignity, and integrity, never losing her fundamental independence and good sense. Still, she is deeply troubled by self-doubt: Were her motives pure, or had she thought of a reward? The many misconstructions of this thorny issue dramatize the period's social structure and prejudices (the condescension of a duke toward Grace's class and a parson toward her sex are sure to raise hackles); in the end, as Grace is dying (at 26) from consumption, she has the liberating realization that ``no money has ever been minted which could pay for such conduct.'' Vivid, fascinating, and written with this author's usual artistry and skill. A provocative contrast to Avi's Nothing But the Truth (1991). (Fiction. 11+) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6 Up-- Grace Darling's simple and secluded life as a lighthouse keeper's daughter is disrupted one fateful night. At great risk to themselves, she and her father retrieve the hapless survivors of a wrecked freighter during a tempetuous storm, only to be criticized by the mainlanders for doing the job of the lifeboat crew and receiving the reward that would have been due the young men. Basing her novel on a true account of a rescue on the Northumbrian coast of England in 1838, Paton Walsh re-creates the era and brings to life the characters involved in this extraordinary drama. Hounded by the visits of curious tourists, well-wishers, and portrait painters, and confused by others' accusations that she acted out of greedy motives, Grace slowly loses her equanimity and eventually her health. Just four years after her famous rescue, Grace Darling died of consumption. Paton Walsh has brought her back to life for today's readers in a way that is completely engrossing. While some readers may find the style and vocabulary challenging, both are perfectly compatible with the period and convey a fine sense of the times. This is the book to give to your best young readers and to the adults who come to the children's room looking for a good old-fashioned read. --Connie C. Rockman, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
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Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux (J), 1992. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0374327580