Title: Alina: A Song for the Telling
Author: Maeve Von Hassell
Date Published: August 27th, 2020
Publisher: BHC Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
A coming-of-age story of a young woman from Provence in the 12th century. “You should be grateful, my girl. You have no dowry, and I am doing everything I can to get you settled. You are hardly any man’s dream.” Alina’s brother, Milos, pulled his face into a perfect copy of Aunt Marci’s sour expression, primly pursing his mouth. He had got her querulous tone just right. Maybe Alina’s aunt was right. She could not possibly hope to become a musician, a trobairitz—impoverished as she was and without the status of a good marriage. But Alina refuses to accept the life her aunt wants to impose on her. At the first opportunity that presents itself, Alina and her brother embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to escape from their aunt’s and uncle’s strictures. Their journey east takes them through the Byzantine Empire all the way to Jerusalem, where Alina discovers her passion and finds her voice.
Thank you to Henry Roi PR for a copy to review. All thoughts expressed are my own. I have not read many books set in the Medieval era however this was a perfect book to try something out of my usual genres. Alina is a young girl in 12th century France (and Jerusalem) who lives under the rules and confinement of her aunt and uncle after being orphaned. Alina dreams of a better life, where she has freedom and ultimately, she wished to be a trobairitz. Alina’s unfortunate circumstance after her parents’ deaths leave her and her brother alone and unwanted. Consequently, they decide to take the opportunity to travel Jerusalem. Along this journey they travel with the knights Templar as well as some other interesting characters. Once in Jerusalem, they become intwined in the noble court which offers them experiences they never would have expected. Along the way Alina learns a lot about herself and the world. She gets the opportunity to play her music, and finally has the chance to compose her own music when she finds something important enough she wants to say. This is a wonderful moment in the book and really feels heart-warming to see Alina come into herself. As the book is narrated by Alina, it reads as a story of girl going on a life changing journey. There is minimal action, but it was an interesting book about a girls’ role in society, the options given and about a girl finding her voice to follow her dream. A dream she mostly wouldn’t even let herself have until the end. The book has a range of characters that add a lot of depth and intrigue to the book and there was certainly a twist I wasn’t expecting in the conclusion. Overall, it’s a very insightful, compelling historical read and would be perfect for those interested in the Medieval era and realistic historical fiction.
Rating: 4 Star