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The Ramsay Scallop Hardcover – April, 1994

3.1 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Hardcover, April, 1994
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a striking departure from her first two novels ( Taste of Salt ; Grab Hands and Run ), which center on current political and social injustices, Temple travels back to 13th-century Europe for a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old orphan. Eleanor of Ramsay is betrothed to the rakish Thomas, who has just returned from fighting in the Crusades for eight years. Frightened by the prospect of an arranged marriage to a man she hardly knows, Eleanor worries even more when the town priest sends her and Thomas on a pilgrimage to Spain to atone for the sins of all the townspeople. Along the way Thomas and Eleanor meet up with scholars, peasants and performers, each of whom plays a role in helping the young protagonists to discover their true feelings for each other. Temple's pleasing portrayal of the saintly but plucky heroine guides readers through a rather long-winded journey. While Eleanor's spiritual and emotional awakenings are believable and sensitively wrought, her internal conflicts fail to buoy the tale with any significant doses of humor, pathos or drama. However, readers newly introduced to Chaucer's famous Canterbury pilgrims may find Temple's contemporary style an easier introduction to medieval settings and customs. Ages 11-14.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up-In 1300, 14-year-old Elenor of Ramsay's fiance, Thomas of Thornham, returns from the Crusades. The couple, uncertain of their roles in life and their feelings about each other, are reluctant to wed. Wise Father Gregory sends them on a pilgrimage to Spain; this not only buys them time but forces them to become better acquainted. Their journey is full of unexpected adventures, joys, and hardships. They see new sights, make new friends, and learn new things. By book's end, both are at peace with themselves and gracefully accept their lot. Temple writes fluently of the medieval era, smoothly weaving data on everyday life, religious attitudes, folklore, music, architecture, and crafts into her story. All this detail is fascinating, but it is definitely overdone. The 300+ page text needs a judicious pruning, particularly those scenes included primarily for informational or philosophical purposes (such as the mechanics of glassblowing and Moslem beliefs). Unfortunately, Temple's facts aren't always accurate; for starters, she alters the construction dates of Amiens' cathedral, errs in describing Albigensian tenets, and repeatedly refers to vernacular scriptures although at this time the Bible was available only in Latin. Her characters, though intriguing, are, for the Middle Ages, incredibly literate and modern thinking. The Ramsay Scallop also suffers from lack of glossary (not all terms are adequately defined in context) and a map tracing the pilgrimage (essential in a book of this type). A valiant effort that doesn't quite make it.
Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Orchard Books (NY); 1st ed edition (April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0531068366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0531068366
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,790,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It was customary in medieval times for the children of nobility to be pledged in marriage by their parents long before they were old enough to understand it. Property, peace, and wealth were the underpinnings of the relationships, not love or compatibility of age and interests. Fourteen-year-old Eleanor and Thomas, who is eight years older, are the betrothed couple in this story, set at the beginning of the 14th century in England. Thomas has been gone on Crusade for eight years, and Eleanor has no desire to marry him (or anyone else), as she recalls his teasing and torment of her when she was small. The two are sent on religious pilgrimage to a shrine in Spain as "chaste companions" by the priest who has been Eleanor's guardian since the death of her parents. On this journey, Eleanor comes to understand that the adult Thomas is not the boy who went away. She begins to think about marriage very differently, and Thomas makes peace with some of the bitterness an! d disillusionment that he brought back from Crusade. The story is filled with vivid images of peasant and noble life, and it contains a plot that is as enjoyable as it is predictable. Interspersed are stories told by various characters, clearly evocative of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Good sixth or seventh grade readers who appreciate strongly-drawn characters and their relationships more than battle-filled action should like it very much. A teacher using this book with a discussion group will find many challenging philosophical ideas to explore that have relevance in modern times.
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Format: Paperback
Well, after reading all of the other reviews offered at the bottom of this page, I was suddenly motivated to write a review of my own. I loved this book and was a bit confused at first about why others hated it.I think that the readers who reviewed this book and thought it was bad were not prepared for all of the information or didn't expect it to be how it was. Obviously there has to be something about this book or else it wouldn't've won the ALA Best Book for Young Adults award. I thought it was very interesting to learn about this time period and all this religious stuff got kind of boring but then you sort of got intrigued. The best part of the book was the blooming romance between the main characters Thomas and Elenor. I loved how at first Thomas referred to Elenor as "the Brat" and then eventually switched to Nora. I'm only a teenager and know as much about pilgrimmage as I do about gnu herding in West Africa (if there is such a thing). I found myself engrossed, though, and all in all it was a really good book I think.
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Format: Hardcover
The Ramsay Scallop is a very good young adult novel, though it has a few flaws. The story is set in the year 1299, and its two main characters are Eleanor and Thomas. The two are betrothed to one another through an arranged marriage, but they neither one can bear the thought of marriage. Thomas, who has been away fighting in the crusades, only remembers Eleanor as "The Brat" who he pestered as a child. Eleanor only remembers Thomas as a cruel kid, and she fears having to bear children because of her slight build. Though they neither one relish the thought of marriage, there really isn't an alternate choice for the two of them....that is, until Father Gregory decides to send them on a pilgrimage to Spain together. Along the way, the two meet people and have experiences that begin to draw them towards one another. They begin to realize the beauties that the other holds for them.
The novel could be perfect except for two flaws. One is that sometimes the prose is unpolished and rough. The pace is slow (which is not a fault), but sometimes the prose along with that pacing makes the story drag a bit too much. Younger readers, in particular, may have trouble getting through these slower parts. The other flaw with the novel is with its clumsy handling of God. Temple is very correct to introduce religion to the book. The conflicts that each character in the book may have with Europe's religion are important and valid. But Temple only seems to introduce the topic. She raises questions about what the main characters believe and are beginning to believe, but before she finishes studying the topic, she drops it.
Though there are some small flaws with the novel, The Ramsay Scallop has some definite strong points. Overall, it is difficult to find very much better than it is. It is even more rare to find a book with this kind of writing set in the Middle Ages. The Ramsay Scallop is a fascinating young adult novel.
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Format: Paperback
My daughter has read this book many times between the age of 7 and 12 years old, and it was she who requested that I read it as well.
This book brought to life a moment in history. The rich descriptions of the environment brought the sounds, smell, anxiety, hardships, and friendships of the time, to life. It was fascinating to again be aware that all these people were travelling through Europe, all speaking more-or-less the same language, and how in just a few centuries, that language diverged into Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
My daughter and I both recommend this book to teachers whose students are studying this time period, and are looking for supplemental reading material to help bring that time and place in history to life.
Based on other reviews, I realize that some 12-year olds may not like this book, but many would... even if they DO also enjoy more fast-paced books.
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