Saturday, 11 June 2011

"Poor Banished Children" - a great read

Every now and again I receive a book which I genuinely cannot put down. Fiorella de Maria's latest, Poor Banished Children was one. It tells of a girl ostracised by her superstitious family, adopted by a kindly and learned priest (she learns to speak Latin), and trying her vocation as an anchorite. She is kidnapped and enslaved by Barbary pirates and finally washes up dying on the coast of England. Threaded throughout the plot is a series of extracts from her general confession.

Poor Banished Children is written with a lively pace and some challenging twists. The characters take on a life of their own and one can easily form a mental picture - this could be made a stirring film. From a Catholic point of view, the priests are shown as human beings with dilemmas and faults but as people one can be in sympathy with. The villains are odious but understandable and the central character, Warda, is about as powerful a woman as you could get. Heartily recommended for your holiday reading with the warning that if you get it when you are not on holiday, you may find, as I did, that you have to catch up on some work after being absorbed by it.

Fiorella won the National Book Prize of Malta for her novel The Cassandra Curse. This one is even better. I am flattered to be included in the acknowledgements but I really did not contribute much.

Poor Banished Children" which is published by Ignatius Press and distributed in England by Gracewing.
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