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Hardcover Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village Book

ISBN: 0763615781

ISBN13: 9780763615789

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Step back to an English village in 1255, where life plays out in dramatic vignettes illuminating twenty-two unforgettable characters. Maidens, monks, and millers sons in these pages, readers will meet... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

This is not a's the Wayback machine!

Although Ms. Schlitz wrote this as a children's play, it is an education and entertainment for adults. Set in the year 1255, it takes us through daily life in the village. The smells, the language, the people, what they wear, what they believe, how they relate to one another and how they accept their various roles unfold before us, bringing us deeper and deeper into village life. At its best, the book is so captivating, readers will have to jerk themselves out of the past and shake off its lingering grasp everytime the book is put aside. We get such an intimate look, told in first person, that the grip of the narrators is amazingly strong. We learn of the abject poverty of many, the splendid cosseting of the few, as we peek in their windows and listen to their voices. Beautifully written, and exhaustively researched, the book is truly a jaunt in a time machine. Ms. Schlitz does not make the mistake of relying too heavily on era-appropriate language, so her speakers are completely understandable to us...but she throws in enough jargon to season the mix to perfection. My suggestion: Read a few pages and close your eyes. The scenes should come to life in the imagination. The accompaniment of intriguing drawings helps animate the prose. All in all, this is a one of a kind read for people of all ages. History buffs, lovers of historical fiction, even people who simply like to eavesdrop on our (historical) neighbors will get a big kick out of the book--while getting a painless but detailed education about the many, many layers medieval life.

Monologues from Medieval tweens

From the cover illustration on, the tweens and teens who inhabit this fictional village have taken up residence in my imagination, where they continue to flirt and jostle, scrounge out a living, sin and repent and hunger and triumph. I imagine their beatings, their wasted frames and matted hair and share their hard-scrabble existence through 81 brief pages, with smatterings of discreetly placed background notes. Schlitz wrote this for students at a private school in Baltimore, where she's a librarian and historian. When she offered to write a play that truly depicted life in the Middle Ages, nobody wanted a minor part. She created 21 scenes, all but two of them for a single actor, and most of them in verse. As the characters speak, they offer an unflinching view of their poverty, their superstitions and prejudices and the limited scope of their ambitions. And, like any kids, they're brightly optimistic, cheerful in their adversity, and full of imagination and daring. We meet the Lord of the Manor's nephew, who risks his life in a boar hunt; a glassblower's apprentice determined to get it right; a shepherdess struggling to save her "sister" sheep, and many other charming, disarming and (mostly) guileless kids struggling to figure out their place in the local pecking order and how to bridge those awkward years until adulthood. Even with so many disparate voices, there are no discordant notes. Village life emerges with its rhythms, its simplicity, and narrative threads that weave all the characters into a cohesive whole. Byrd helpfully illustrates with scenes that could've come from a Book of Hours; his approximation of Medieval illuminations are so close that I forgot I'd already seen his name on the cover and searched the extensive bibliography for the pictures' source. Although the scenes are meant to be performed or at least read aloud by 10-15 year olds, this can also be read silently by one very absorbed kid -- or, ahem, grown-up.

Living History: Medieval Make-Believe with Color & Wit

Laura Schlitz has brought the Middle Ages to life--fleas and all!--so entertainingly that children won't even realize how much they are learning. She has created fully realized characters who talk about their lives--movingly, amusingly, and frequently both--in beautiful language. These monologues and dialogues are easy and fun for children to read and perform. There are also short, informative and entertaining essays on aspects of medieval life, including falconry, Judaism, and the Crusades. Robert Byrd's lively illustrations add to the enchantment.

Without compare

Allow me to make something perfectly clear. There are, living amongst you, one or two sad souls for whom the name "Laura Amy Schlitz" does not mean anything. This is a state of affairs that does none of us any good. You see, Ms. Schlitz is an author whose time has come. In 2006 she managed to simultaneously produce an epic gothic/realistic/historical/faux-ghost story in the tradition of The Secret Garden and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, while also churning out a truly amusing and interesting bit of non-fiction on the side. You have an assignment. If you have not read A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama or The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug For Troy, do so. You'll be better for it. That done, you may turn your sights onto a book that combines the two things Schlitz does so very well: Research and historical fiction. Maybe once a month a parent will walk up to my reference desk and ask me where they can find a nice selection of plays for children. Usually I'll direct them to Plays the periodical or wave them towards the 800s, but by and large there's not a lot of quality drama material for kids out there. Nothing that would give them all some great parts, that is. Schlitz acknowledges this fact right from the start in her book. Says the Foreward, "It really isn't possible to write a play with seventeen equally important characters in it. If you read Shakespeare, you'll notice that he never managed it - there are always a few characters that have little to say or do." So what was Schlitz to do when a group of students at the school (where she tends the library) all let her know in no uncertain terms that they wanted big starring roles? She just had to write them a book. In "Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!," Schlitz gives us a whopping twenty-three parts, each one the monologue of a kid who would have lived in a Medieval village. There's Edgar the falconer's son plotting to keep his bird out of the grasp of its real owner, Simon the knight's son. There's Taggot who moons over the lord's nephew, Constance the pilgrim, and Nelly the sniggler. Any book with a sniggler is bound to be good. Each part tells its story in the first person so that by the end you have seen twenty-three lives perfectly realized for the child audience and actor. I expected to learn something from this book. What I didn't expect was to be touched. What you need to remember here, even as your eye falls on footnotes giving the definition of "Prime" or the importance of dying "unshriven", is that Schlitz is a masterful writer. These monologues aren't rote lists of facts for kids to memorize. They're powerful stories, and none of them have easy answers. Maybe the characters' lives will end well. Many times they will not. What is important is that Schlitz is at least giving these people a chance to be heard. And as a child takes on a character, they'll start to think about what happened to them in the future. What'll happen to Jack, the boy everyone assumes is a half-wit? Or B
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