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Babylonne Hardcover – November 11, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Babylonne has had enough, so she decides to run away and join up with the noble knights. She will offer to cook and clean for them, and help them with their grand and gallant quests. For added safety, Babylonne chops off her hair and disguises herself as a young boy. But her future doesn't quite play out as she plans.
Almost immediately, she is cornered by a Catholic priest named Isidore who claims to have been a friend of her father's and wants to take her under his wing and protect her. First of all, Babylonne had been conditioned by her aunt and grandmother to believe that all Catholic priests are horrid and untrustworthy. Second, she also had been told that her father had raped her mother, so she is no fan of his either. To say the least, Babylonne has no interest in staying with Isidore. However, after further argument, she decides it could be safer traveling with a priest than by herself, and she can leave him at any time. So the two set out for their destination.
During the next few days, Babylonne starts realizing how misinformed she's been, how special her parents' relationship was, and how kind Isidore is.Read more ›
It is a time of war, persecution, and religious controversy. Jinks' knowledge of the era as a scholar lends a truth and vividness to the coming-of-age tale of a young, feisty girl in the middle of a war. She is able to paint everything from the sights, sounds, and smells of monasteries to the sights, sounds, and smells of wars and infirmaries inside besieged fortresses. Her writing is not for the weak of heart, or the weak of stomach in some places.
Babylonne is a young woman who has spent her life surrounded by bloodshed and abuse and has remained an independent thinker despite it all. She never knew her mother, a Good Christian, and never knew her father, an Arab-born Roman priest. She lives with her aunt and other women in a convent of sorts. As she is considered to be a child with no father, because her father was a Roman priest, she is mistreated and abused in many ways.
Finally, when she is going to be married off to a man who is so old that he sees everything as giant bouncing olives, she makes a run for it.
While Babylonne runs through her city, stolen goods in tow, she runs into a Roman priest, Isidore, whom she despises at first. Gradually, Isidore teaches her to trust and the differences between her faith and his faith come into question and are open for debate. Her original wish, to fight for the exiled lords against the French, comes into question as she learns what war really means. Babylonne's honest voice is dramatic, humorous, and sometimes heartbreaking.
The one thing that I truly wish was different with this book is the cover art.Read more ›
No, Babylonne is a sixteen year-old girl unlike many other YA offerings: oppressed, fierce-tempered, sarcastic, and realistically brave. (Her moments of pure courage are offset by instances of perfectly logical freaking out.) Her opportunities are limitted, and she never really breaks free of the times. But I appreciated that.
Some writers portray the Middle Ages as being a happy and romantic time; Jinks possibly steers too far in the opposite direction. This book is not for the squeamish: boils, rotten teeth, wet rushes, miserable seiges, profound but careless cruelty, latrines, starvation, the flux, all sorts of yuck in the streets... this is not a place you want to be. Even the soap is gross (animal fat and ashes).
But the characters are wonderful, and the story moves from hilarious to heartbreaking and back again. Another thing I particularly appreciated was the portrayal of religion at this time: Babylonne belongs to a persecuted sect of heretics, but spends much of the story in the company of a monk (Isidore, amazing, lovable, and a great ambassador for his religion). So theology is debated in a way that really adds the story, and doesn't consume much time.
In case you're wondering, this book definitely gets a high PG13 rating, because hey, it's the Middle Ages, and Jinks isn't afraid to show it.
Your enjoyment of this book will be greatly aided if you have already read the Pagan books, also by Catherine Jinks, and also excellent.