Tag Archives: elizabeth marie pope

Retro Friday Review: The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

At the death of her father, newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is sent to live with her reclusive Uncle Enos, whom she’s never met, and who lives at the family’s ancestral estate in New York, a place her father’s never mentioned.  Apparently it is haunted by the Grahame Revolutionary era ancestors, and Enos is bitter they’ve never appeared to him. But before she can even reach Rest-and-be-Thankful, a mysterious jewel-eyed girl in a crimson cape directs her to a young British scholar that will show her the way to the house.  She is caught off guard by Uncle Enos cold reception of her, but more baffled by his flat objection to her new acquaintance Pat Thorne and his refusal to offer an explanation. But she is soon caught up in the history of the house and its former residents, which led exciting and romantic lives as officers and spies during the war.

I was reading More Book Lust when I came across this classic YA novel by Elizabeth Marie Pope.  It sounded like the perfect, fun blend of history, mystery, and romance.  At first the ghost element turned me off, but once you get into the lives of officers like lofty Colonel Richard Grahame, teasing Eleanor Shipley, spirited Barbara Grahame and the dashing British ex-officer Peaceable Drummond Sherwood (my favorite), the historical stories within Peggy’s story nearly eclipse whatever’s going on in the contemporary world.  Sherwood is a modern, Revolutionary-era Robin Hood, who lives in the Martin Wood surrounding Rest-and-be-Thankful and leads a loose band of marauders outsmarting General George Washington himself.  How could anyone not be charmed by him?  The situations he puts poor Colonel Grahame in are quite amusing, as well as those with Barbara, who matches Sherwood in wits.  They turn out to be just what Peggy needs to navigate her own relationship with Pat and discover his history and how their ancestor’s connect.  As a result, the conclusion of The Sherwood Ring is very sweet and rewarding.  Immediately after I finished I went out to get The Perilous Gard, which I liked even more.  I just wish Ms. Pope had written more books.

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Retro Friday Review: The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

It’s 1558, and sisters Katherine and Alicia Sutton attend Queen Mary’s sister Lady Elizabeth, who’s been sent to live at the sea in Hatfield out of the Queen’s jealous hatred. Alicia is pretty and doe-eyed. Kate is plain and clumsy and inherited the piercing looks and brains of her grandfather. Through no fault of her own but the silly folly of her sister, Kate has angered the Queen herself and is soon exiled from court. Of all places she is sent to be under strict guard at Elvenwood Hall, a remote castle rumored to be a “perilous gard” or gateway to an underground world of Fairy Folk. Sensible Kate is determined not to believe the rumors and anticipates a quiet, uneventful exile until she meets the young mysterious Christopher Heron and learns of the disappearance of her guardian’s young daughter Cecily at the Holy Well and the rumors begin to come true.

I only read this a few years ago, but The Perilous Gard definitely flies under-the-radar as it was originally published in 1974. It doesn’t feel dated though and is definitely worth reading for fairy lovers and historical fantasy fans alike. The writing is so smooth and easy to read and captured me from the first page. The forest and castle setting is very atmospheric and the Fairy Folk and their Underhill enchanted me. It’s no surprise that this retelling of the Tam Lin ballad is a Newbery Honor book. Kate is a strong, independent heroine who really comes into her own. I especially love the banter between her and Christopher Heron. The fairy world is richly drawn; at times mysterious, entrancing, and frightening. Pope knows her stuff; she spent most of her career as an English professor specializing in Elizabethan England. Unfortunately she only wrote this and The Sherwood Ring, but I will definitely be recommending and re-reading both.

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The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

After being exiled from Queen Mary Tudor’s court in 1558, lady in waiting Katherine Sutton is sent to live in a remote castle rumored to be a “perilous gard” or gateway to an underground world of Fairy Folk who still practice ancient pagan customs like human sacrifice. Sensible Kate is determined not to believe the rumors and anticipates a quiet, uneventful exile until she learns of the mysterious disappearance of her guardian’s young daughter Cecily at the Holy Well and the rumors begin to come true.

Based on the Scottish ballad Tam Lin, the Perilous Gard is an enchanting historical fantasy with a touch of mystery and romance. It’s no surprise this is a Newbery Honor book. Kate is a strong, independent heroine who really comes into her own. I especially love the banter between her and Christopher Heron. The fairy world is richly drawn; at times mysterious, entrancing, and frightening. Pope knows her stuff; she spent most of her career as an English professor specializing in Elizabethan England. Unfortunately she only wrote this and The Sherwood Ring, but I will definitely be recommending and re-reading both.