Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner
Angus and Robertson, 2011. ISBN 9780732292805.
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. Intelligent and strong minded Isabella is forced to flee Cambridge in 1640 with her scholarly father and seek refuge with a printer in Amsterdam. The story, told engagingly in the first person, also takes us to Venice and Spain as Isabella and a young friend, Willem risk their lives to save their Master from the perils of the Inquisition.
This book will inform the reader about the damage that can be done through religious intolerance and the importance of freedom of thought. It is fast paced and the intriguing and well researched detail of life on the Continent in the 17th Century will be enjoyed by readers. The three main characters (Isabella, Willem Signora Contarini, and Master de Aquilla) are all passionate book lovers and the moments of humour and of romance in the story act to break some of the tension during the frantic race across Europe.
This would be an interesting paired text with Fahrenheit 451 or The Book Thief for Senior English students. It could also be used by students seeking a strong female protagonist. There are excellent Teacher Notes available and a sequel The Sultan's eyes will be published in 2013.