The Lady and the Squire
Attitude: Take Care
Series: Tom & Alan
Published in: 2000
Age Range: Pre Teens
Period: 14th C
- Tom has travelled as a squire with the English army to France and has been taken on as a translator of Papal documents by one of the English lords.
- Ann has travelled with Tom as Alan, another squire, but has now become a female squire to the Duke of Lancaster.
- Emily is the young niece of the Bishop of Reims.
Tom, translating documents for the English, is taken prisoner by a servant of the Bishop of Reims but escapes with Emily, the Bishop's niece, while Ann, disguised again as Alan, has left the Duke to rejoin the English army proper. They each have different objectives: Emily wants to petition the English King Edward, her uncle, to have her brother released from captivity without ransom; Ann wants to rejoin the English army; and Tom wants to rejoin Sir John Hawkley, the knight to whom he was squire.
Literary: This book, undoubtedly fun, is rather like a novelised form of the various History-Is-Fun semi-cartoon books that have been trivialising history for a few years now. It's a mixture of the personal and the didactic, pausing every few miles to give you an explanation of how the mediaevals did this or why they did that. Lightweight, perhaps, but fun.
On top of that, you have the differences and interactions between the main characters coupled with their small adventures, all of which makes the book more than a mere history textbook with a difference
Religion: The author certainly has it in for the mediaeval church. I don't think we come across one churchman, priest, prelate or monk, who can be called a holy man by any stretch of the imagination. The Bishop of Reims, apart from having his own torture chamber, wants to marry his own niece; the monks of Troyes live in material comfort and political acuity while keeping up a front of austerity for their guests; the Pope's chamberlain is a veritable crook; and Pope Innocent VI lives like a prince in the midst of intrigues, food-tasters and treachery. And all this is served up with jocularity and humour.
Modesty & Decency: Tom & Ann are, we suppose, 12 or 13. Emily is given as 16. Tom & Ann's relationship is peculiar, because he has spent the last book believing she's a boy like him. They are really just friends. Tom falls for Emily, who's beautiful and rich, and Emily falls for Ann, believing her to be a boy. None of this is terribly serious.
Among all this, Tom dresses up as Emily's maid to escape from the Bishop's palace and has to endure having his bottom pinched by one of the guards.
Ann looked own into the well. “Don't worry,” she answered. “The firm of Tom And Alan is noted for its well- rescues. So what happened?”
Tom, meanwhile, sprinted back to the shed of broken-down carts and grabbed the coil of rope which had been going to be Ann's bed. He arrived back at the well-side just as Emily finished explaining to Ann how she had run off to rescue her bundle of clothes from the inn, how she'd found some servants about to divide them up among themselves and how she'd given them all a severe scolding, before hurrying to this village as arranged; but she'd been unable to remove the armour. As she had staggered around in the dark, she'd failed to notice the well and fallen into it. She must have been lying there knocked out or shocked until Tom had called out her name.
“Please get me out!” she cried
Thursday 21st August 2003