Review Blog

May 20 2010

The Ruby Talisman by Belinda Murrell

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Random House, 2010. ISBN: 978 1 86471 987 1
(Age 10+) Highly recommended. Angry about her parents' separation, frustrated by the additional responsibilities at home and having become non-communicative toward her friends, Tilly goes to stay with her aunt Kara to provide her mother with a chance to rest and relax. Whilst there, Kara shares some information about their French ancestors and allows Tilly to try on a precious family heirloom. Forgetting to take the necklace off, Tillie goes to bed full of wishes and dreams of being transported to another life. One hundred and thirty years earlier, in Versailles, Amelie-Mathilde also goes to sleep wishing to be saved from a loveless arranged marriage and wakes to find Tilly alongside her. Almost immediately, the Revolution begins and the girls embark on an adventure to escape to safety, not knowing who to trust. As a result of her visit, Tilly influences her friends to ensure the safety of both her predecessors and herself.
This was an easy and engaging story, filled with themes that affect the lives of many young readers: family, separation and friendship, and is simultaneously a coming of age novel and a history lesson rolled into one title. Although more for female readers, it could perhaps be used as a class text or paired with a title involving a male protagonist such as Jackie French's Macbeth and Son. Both novels use the knowledge of the modern day protagonist to explain and reflect on the plights of those in the earlier times. With a French glossary at the front of the novel and three pages of facts regarding the French Revolution at the end, this is a most accessible text. A highly recommended read for readers aged ten and above.
Jo Schenkel, Pilgrim School

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