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Sold for Endless Rue [Hardcover]

Madeleine E Robins

RRP: £15.66
Price: £14.64 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rapunzel story with an endless spectrum of mothers 15 May 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book ate a couple hours of my evening without me even noticing, which is high praise. Laura's story is especially compelling, and I thought her toughness was hard-won and believable.

The Rapunzel-retelling was subtly done and did not start right away. This story is 3/4 historical fiction and 1/4 fairy tale, and the fairy tale doesn't really start until halfway through the book. I especially loved the subtlety of the prince-character.

I liked the contrasting mother-figures in this story. They all love their children, but react in different ways to the natural way children break rules as they grow up. Cressia never defines her plans or rules (as a parent, this overprotection-through-ignorance made me flinch.) Laura is attempting to live out her childhood in a better way through her own daughter, and not listening to what the kid wants. And Sibela says, ""And I did not raise a living son to cast him off at the first time of trouble." Even the Traveller Nonna, and the companion-sister are mothers of sorts. This book is so full of mothers -- good and bad, present and absent, sympathetic and harsh. I think that may be the best thing about it -- women in so many different ways.

I would happily read more stories set in this world.

Read if: You would love your fairy-tale retellings with more history. You like a multi-generational story. You love period details.

Skip if: You are looking for another book featuring Robins' sassy Regency heroines. This is period-appropriate but less banter-y.

Also read: The Midwife's Apprentice
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real history, better than fairy tales 14 July 2013
By Katharine Kerr - Published on
Robins may have referenced the Rapunzel fairy tale, but this book is also a fine study of how women lived in medieval Italy. That exceptional women could attend medical school, for instance, is quite true and an interesting revelation, especially to those who seem to think that all women were kept in cages until the Twentieth Century. Robins writes well and has a fine writer's eye for the details that make a story come alive. The ending made this hardened reader sniff back tears, it was so right.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real fairy tales! 26 Jun 2013
By Jeanvieve Warner - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this book so much I've already bought it three times for friends. This is the best version of Rapunzel I've ever heard, and educational about historic female doctors in Italy as well. I highly recommend it for everyone, of any age.
4.0 out of 5 stars Rapunzel retold 8 Jan 2014
By Vanessa - Published on
Captured as a slave while a child, Laura escapes and finds a new life in the home of a mountain healer and midwife. Clever and industrious, Laura learns her new profession so well that her adoptive mother, Crescia, sends her to Solerno's famed medical school so she can become a physician and bring her worldly learning back to the midwife's humble cottage.

Laura works hard to be accepted among her male peers--this is thirteenth century Italy, after all, so that's no easy task--but her medical brilliance is impossible to ignore. However, having lived a sheltered life with Crescia, Laura finds herself unprepared when she falls in love with another student, and makes a choice that changes the rest of her life.

SOLD FOR ENDLESS RUE is a retelling of the Rapunzel story, but there's no magic. In fact, SOLD treats the fairytale as though it symbolizes the everyday human experience. Let me explain, and even though you know the Rapunzel story, I'll try not to spoil Robins' retelling for you.

Told via the women (and a little by a man), SOLD is the story of women's experience with love, motherhood, profession, and heartache. Laura's family was killed by slavers, but with Crescia's help she overcomes her fears. Not that Laura is weak, she is far from it; in fact she can be rather single-minded, to her detriment. Agnesa is the young, innocent bride of a favorable union of mercer houses. She looks up to the educated medica Laura, and seeks her friendship and medical advice in conceiving a much-wanted child. Beita is Laura's young adopted daughter, willing to please, but also curious about the world around her. Her mother wants her to be accepted into the medical school, but as Beita grows to womanhood she comes to understand that her shortcomings may disappoint her mother.

With the limitations of a short book and three distinct PoV characters it was hard to get very deep into their personalities; even if what we were shown was interesting, it still felt like only an introduction. Still, I liked Laura, Agnesa, and Bieta (and token PoV male Tibalt), I only wished there were more.

The setting was well-done, and it was easy to visualize the hills above Solerno, the city itself, and the people who lived there. The dialogue, details of everyday life, and even the people themselves added to the story that made the era come alive for me. The pacing was steady, and even though it doesn't move particularly fast, I found myself quickly engrossed in the story. SOLD is an easy book to read, Robins' prose is flawless and carries the story from scene to scene with grace and beauty.

Despite the quality of the writing, the novel isn't perfect. Rapunzel is not an easy story to work around, but Robins does her best to make sense of what the fairytale could have meant underneath the drama of long hair, a maiden in the tower, a handsome prince, and an ugly witch. Some readers may be disappointed by the story's simplicity, no magic, and lack of feeling like a fairytale. Despite the inherent tragedy of Rapunzel's story, the retelling has a sweet tone, and ultimately the theme is one of love and forgiveness.

(Note: for parents of potential YA audiences there is at least one graphic sex scene and other less graphic scenes, as well as references to sex and rape, so maybe 16-17+)
3.0 out of 5 stars diaspointing 5 July 2013
By seabeast - Published on
I read this book a few days ago and was rather disappointed. i love retelling of fairy tales and i found the character development in this one lacking. the characters seem to have every little personality or depth. they seem to only have two sides at most. the witch is portrayed as a frightened girl and a jaded woman, the mother as a silly girl starting to grow up, and rue is shown as a obedient daughter turned rebellious.

i think this novel would be much better if the author had given her characters more interests or traits that would make them likable. Having three sides of the same story in one book is very ambitious but i think she has not done very well making this book memorable.

i completely forgot i was reading a fairytale. if this book was altered slightly it could easily become a great historical fiction about the lives of female medicos. the fact it is being sold as a retelling of a fairytale is not beneficial for the audience who would like it as a historical fiction.

I love fairytale retellings because the base story acts like a seed that new stories grow from. they sprout new interpretations of events twist characters and grow from the authors imagination. i find them very enjoyable. this one however i believe was picked too soon.

I read the whole book but i would not read it again or recommend it to others.
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