Monday, 27 September 2010


TroubadourTitle: Troubadour
Author: Mary Hoffman


Score: 7/10


Troubadour is an interesting book, that readers of most genres should enjoy. It is written fairly simply, in the sense that it is an easy book to read. The vocabulary isn't particularly difficult, and any period terms are generally explained in the prose (with a handy glossary at the back in case you forget).

In fact there was only one problem that I had with the historical aspects if the book, and that was the definition of France. In my mind, France is as it is defined now. But according to the map in the book, the south of France was a region known as Occitania. Now this in itself isn't a problem, but it would have been nice to have known this at the BEGINNING of the book. Consequently, "the French were attacking" confused me, given that I was under the impression it was a civil war.

But other than this slight confusion, I found myself enjoying learning history while reading a novel. Of course it's not  perfectly accurate, it's fiction, but it was an interesting experience, that I'd be happy to repeat. In fact, I really loved the first two parts (of three).

The third part however, feels rushed, sometimes unrealistic and somehow wrong. Obviously the war had to be won by the historical victor, but the fictional main character's end-story seems to disregard many of the threads that began the book, particularly what I would consider the main one, the love interest.

But before this final part, the feelings and emotions of the two main characters, Elinor and Bertran, are acutely described, and they seem to be very real people.

So while this book isn't in my normal reading genre, it has left an impression in my mind that perhaps I should read more historical fiction. The plot weakened towards the end, which was disappointing, but the first two parts, in my mind, more than made up for that. If you can't stand a book with a weak ending, this probably isn't for you, but if you read to appreciate a good writer, then buy/borrow/steal* this book as soon as possible.

*Do NOT steal the book, that was a joke.

More Information

Main Protagonist(s): Female
Main Antagonist(s): Lots of Men
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre: Historical Fiction
Brief Synopsis:

A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th century Southern France. As crusaders sweep through the country, destroying all those who do not follow their religion, Bertrand risks his life to warn others of the invasion. As a troubadour, Bertrand can travel without suspicion from castle to castle, passing word about the coming danger. In the meantime Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertrand, leaves her comfortable home and family and becomes a troubadour herself. Danger encircles them both, as the rising tide of bloodshed threatens the fabric of the society in which they live.

ISBN: 978-0-7475-9252-5
Website: Author's Site
Amazon Link: Troubadour
Pages: 278
First Published: August 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury

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