4 June 2008


Random House Australia, 2008, 313 pages, ISBN 978-1-74166-250-4

Set in the 1140s during the wars between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, the novel tells the story of Janna's search for her father. She joins a band of pilgrims passing through Wiltune where she has lived for a year in the convent. Janna wants to go to Ambresberie where her mother was once the infirmarian, known as Sister Emanuelle. The pilgrims, a disparate bunch, have been to the shrine of St. James and are now on their way home. A little way out of Wiltune Janna discovers a man's body carrying a letter from the Bishop of Winchester. She is sworn to secrecy about the letter by Bernard the leader of the pilgrims who is himself killed. Janna is torn between her secret knowledge of the letter, her own support for the Empress, and her desire to learn more about her father.

I don't usually review adolescent literature, so reading WILLOWS FOR WEEPING made an interesting change to my normal fare. The setting is an much written about period in English history, one also used by Ellis Peters in her Cadfael series. The portrayal of life in this period felt very authentic as did the historical detail. Just after their discovery of the first body Bernard, the leader of the pilgrim party, tells Janna to "trust no-one". It's not advice she always manages to keep and there's a good sense of the peril she is in. She really doesn't know who to trust.

WILLOWS FOR WEEPING is catalogued as "for secondary school age" and I think that is right too. There are some enthusiastic comments on the back cover for the earlier titles by YARA ONLINE reviewers aged 12-15.

If you are new to the Janna series, then I would seriously suggest that you look out for the first 3 in the series and try to read them in order, because I did feel that there was some back-story I was missing that would add to my understanding of what had already happened to Janna.
The books to find:
According to Felicity's blog, a 5th in the series called SAGE FOR SANCTUARY will be published in early 2009.

Felicity Pulman is an Australian author who has written a number of books for children and teenagers. Her website at http://www.felicitypulman.com.au/ contains comprehensive details of all of her books, reviews, writing tips, as well as notes and class activities for teachers. Random House Reading Guides contains more information about the themes of the Janna series and activities for teachers. And then finally there is Felicity's blog.

My rating: 4.5

1 comment:

Felicity Pulman said...

HI Kerrie,
Many thanks for your lovely review of Willows for Weeping, Book 4 of The Janna Mysteries. FYI, and for those fans of Janna who are desperate to finish her quest, I'm currently publishing Books 5 & 6 (Sage for Sanctuary and Thyme for Trust) through createspace in the States. Hopefuly they'll be ready for purchase by late January, early February as either an e-book or a paperback through amazon.com. I'm keeping readers up to date on progress via my blog on my website: www.felicitypulman.com.au
Thanks, Flick Pulman


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