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No Shame, No Fear by Ann Turnbull

I first came across No Shame, No Fear in Adele Gerasreview inThe Guardian. I read and loved Troy and was interested in reading a book Geras said, "Needs a trumpet to be blown for it." The narrative alternates between two points of view--that of Susanna, a young Quaker girl, and William, a young man just home from Oxford. Set in England in 1662 just as the Quaker Act is passed, Susanna takes a job as an apprentice in a print shop to help provide for her family since her father has been incarcerated. William is about to embark on a seven year apprenticship for a wealthy merchant in London. The two meet once on the road and again in the print shop and matters get thornier from there. William begins investigating the Quaker faith, expressly against his father's wishes, and the two find themselves drawn to each other at a time when such a connection could prove fatal to both. 

This short, simple tale held my interest easily and I found myself learning quite a bit about a time in history and a subset of the English population I was fairly unfamiliar with. Naturally, I found myself rooting for the starcrossed kids and was impressed when they both unexpectedly ended up displaying a bit more maturity than they could have given their youth and infatuation. The bad news is the ending does not resolve Susanna and Will's numerous problems. The good news is there's another book which, hopefully, does.

This is a scene early on in the book told from Susanna's perspective. Will comes into the print shop and finds Susanna reading a book called The Pious Prentice. 
"You should read poetry," he said, "not this stuff."
"Poetry?"
We stood, not touching now, but still breathless, aware of each other's bodies. 
"Poetry." He mimicked my suspicious tone. "Have you never read any? Is it frowned upon?"
"I think my father would feel it might. . .lead to unsuitable thought. It's a thing for scholars and gentlemen, is it not?"
"I'll lend you some," he said, "and you shall see for yourself. John Donne--no, George Herbert. Herbert was a godly man, a parish priest, much revered."
A priest. I felt I was entering dangerous lands. And yet I had been taught that the light was within everyone, that I should seek it and respond to it. Perhaps I should hear what this priest had to say.
Turnbull's writing style is so unobtrusive, it matches the simple, clean lines of the story very well. The pages fly by quickly and, as I said, the end leaves a few rather important issues unresolved so I recommend you have the sequel in hand when you sit down to read No Shame, No Fear. Sadly, I did not. I'll be remedying the situation shortly.

Comments

  1. sounds like a great read! I'll keep an eye out for it.

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  2. A very pleasant read. I'm still trying to get my hands on the sequel.

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  3. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Adele Geras' Troy! I loved the book! We have such similar tastes :)

    I'll check this one out asap.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Grin. We do.

    Did you ever read Ithaka? I need to find that one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This one looks so interesting. I hope it's at the library...and the sequel!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think you'd enjoy it, Kos. It's a quick, sweet read that leaves you feeling a bit breathless. An altogether pleasant feeling. ;)

    ReplyDelete

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