Wise Child by Monica Furlough
Happy Labor Day, everyone! To commemorate it, here’s another book review:
Wise Child by Monica Furlough takes place on a remote Scottish island in the early days of Christianity. Wise Child, a bright young girl of the village, is abandoned by her parents and taken in by the local witch, Juniper. Wise Child learns to navigate Juniper’s ongoing rivalry with the village priest among gorgeous description of a time and place that’s alien to our own.
The best part of reading this book is the setting. How often do you get to read a story that takes you to Scotland in the year 700 or so? Monica Furlough has clearly done her research, too. Her descriptions are vivid – and the villagers’ ongoing struggle with starvation is especially painful. Wise Child’s cousin gets excited at being offered a glass of milk. The historical forces of the era, the introduction of Christianity to the British Isles, are an undercurrent that run through the whole story. It’s like watching Titanic. You know that the iceberg is going to win.
The book doesn’t have much of a plot, but I didn’t mind. Wise Child goes through a series of episodes as the ward of the witch Juniper. Each one is intended to let us learn more about the world than to learn about Wise Child. Wise Child grows up a bit, and at the end there’s something like a climax.
Recommended if you want to go on a historical trip.