Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review: Sold for Endless Rue by Madeleine E. Robins (no spoilers)

Book: Sold for Endless Rue
Author: Madeleine E. Robins
Publication: May 14th, 2013
Source: Inter-Library Loan
Read: Jan 13-17, 2015
Summary (From Book Jacket) (The Summary is full of spoilers so I only put the non-spoiler part below):

Inspired by the fairy tale "Rapunzel," Sold for Endless Rue is a moving, eloquent novel of three generations of women, bound to each other by love and duty.

 Salerno, Italy, in the thirteenth century is home to the world's first medical school, a temple of learning that admits both men and women. The city is filled with medicos and their patients, but in the hills, people seek help from midwives and hedge-withches like Crescia.

 One tumultuous day, Crescia saves the life of a nameless girl who becomes Laura, her daughter and apprentice. Soon Laura's skill at healing surpasses Crecia's and the older women enrolls her at the Scuola.
My Thoughts:
I was originally intrigued by this story because it was a Rapunzel retelling, but Sold for Endless Rue is so much more than just a Rapunzel retelling. I found out about this book through Bonnie @ A Backwards Story and she even reviewed it for A Month of Rapunzel last year. Sold for Endless Rue was a historical fiction novel based on thirteen century Salerno, Italy which houses the first medical school that accepts both men and women. 

The book is separated into three parts and therefore the story has a lot of time to develop. It starts out with Laura, who is taken in by Crescia. Crescia is a healer that lives in the hills. This part of the book was full of medical information. Sometimes it was interesting and sometimes I felt like I was just getting information thrown at me. 

In the second part of the story, Laura is grown up and living next door to Agnesa and Cencio. These two newleweds are desperate for a child, but no child has come. When Agnesa does finally fall pregnant, all she craves is the bitter greens that grow in Laura's garden. I really fell in love with Agnesa as a character and I really had a hard time liking Laura at some points during this section. I watched Laura's friendship with Agnesa grow and the friendship with sweet while it lasted. I do wish we got to find out what happened to Agnesa and Cencio. 

In the final section of the book the story is told by Beitela (Beita) tells her story. I loved seeing the elements of Rapunzel really mixed into this part. I loved Beita as a character. She reminded me of Melody in the Little Mermaid 2, who had a wall in her way. I also fell in love with Andrea and Tibault as characters. I think they really added to the story. 

The book was so complex and showed the differences among the three women. I really liked all three women, but Laura built a special place in my heart. Despite her flaws I believe she is a good person. Laura had many obstacles in her earlier life that lead her to her protective parenting style. She wanted the world for Beita and she went to great lengths to protect her daughter.  I understood Beita's attitude and the decisions she made. I found her lifestyle toward the end of this book to be very interesting and I was cheering for a happy reunion. 

I loved the ending. I think it wrapped up the novel well. I did want a little bit more development into the ending, but I was satisfied with what I got. My advice is to go into this novel is to not going into it expecting a straight Rapunzel retelling. The Rapunzel part of the book doesn't start until the 2nd part. I think this book had so much more character development than in some YA retellings. I enjoyed the journey I was taken through with the characters. This was a wonderful and I would recommend this to fairy tale fans. I would love to read more books like this one. 

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