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The Merrybegot [Paperback]

Julie Hearn
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Feb 2005
This is the story of Nell who lives with her grandmother, the local cunning woman and healer, in a west country village in the seventeenth century. When one of the minister's daughters falls pregnant she and her sister attempt to conceal it by accusing Nell of putting a curse on them. The witchfinder general, Matthew Hopkins, is called in and in an atmosphere of fear, the local villagers turn nasty and Nell's grandmother falls victim to their hatred. Nell is all alone, and in great danger . . .


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (3 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192791575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192791573
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 486,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julie Hearn used to be a tabloid journalist. After her daughter, Tilly, was born she began a degree in Education but switched to English after suffering a panic attack while attempting to teach maths to year six.

Something she read in Oxford's Bodleian Library, about a young girl who was shown as a fairground "monster" in the 17th century, inspired Julie's first novel Follow Me Down (2003). Since then she has written about witchcraft (The Merrybegot, 2005); the beauty and perils of the Victorian art world (Ivy, 2006), and the legacy of the Slave Trade (Hazel, 2007).

Rowan the Strange, she says, is as much about the craziness of so-called "normal life" as it is about a young boy's state of mind . The more she wrote the harder it became to hold onto, or defend, conventional definitions of madness.

Wreckers, another of Julie's titles, draws on the well-known myth of Pandora's Box, and has been widely praised.

Julie lives in Oxfordshire where she writes full time (most mornings anyway) in a pink and green office in her garden.

Product Description

Review

Praise for Julie Hearn's first book - 'Follow Me Down':- this immensely accomplished novel is spiked with humour. (Sunday Telegraph )

although written for younger readers, adults, too, will find it hard to put down. (Choice Magazine )

here is a voice which is a genuine original . . . a new, wild, free voice. (Books for Keeps )

A debut novel which deserves our attention . . . an extraordinary story (The Bookseller )

Book Description

A stunning new novel by this important talent

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good story, well written 27 Aug 2013
By Fiona Millar VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Nell is the Merrybegot in question, a young girl protected by the magical beings around her, who helps her healer granny deliver local babies and dispense medicines to the villagers. Nell clashes with the Minister's daughters, particularly Grace, who decides to cover up her indiscretion with a local lad by accusing Nell of witchcraft. Enter witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, keen to earn his fee by branding both Nell and her granny witches.

The historical elements of this story mix well with the fictional tale of Nell, and I was easily caught up in the events as Nell tries to stay true to her heritage while escaping the fate Hopkins has in mind for her. It's a very enjoyable story, with great characters, a rattling plot, and a good twist in the tale, too!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Merrybegot a great take on the witch trials 25 Feb 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is an excellent view of the period surrounding the English Witch trial scares. It doesn't sensationalise the events and presents a sympathetic view of the village wisewoman and how her actions can be misconstrued by ignorant mob rule. I found it very well written and liked the way the spells were presented in a different type ,it made it seems as though you were reading 2 books. One a straightforward novel, the other a wisewomans book of spells and charms
Hughly recommended for any age
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical fantasy 10 April 2011
By Michael Finn TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
It is Spring 1645 and the first English Civil War is drawing to its inevitable close. King Charles I holds onto his freedom by a thread with his loyalist supporters holding only small pockets of the Midlands & North Wales with his son (Charles II to be) hiding out in the West Country (Cornwall). Matthew Hopkins, self-styled Witch-finder General plies his lucrative and deadly business stirring the countryside to find and nail any suspected of using the Dark Arts. Against this historical backdrop Julie Hearn tells her story of the Merrybegot (a child conceived on Beltane morning who has a special affinity to nature and the healing arts or to some - a witch). The countryside is alive with Piskies and Fairies though you might never see one. The book could be described as a fanciful precursor to the Salem Witch Trials that occurred in New England half a century later. Although I don't rate this one as being as good as Hearn's debut book (Follow Me Down) or Rowan the Strange, I did think it was a very enjoyable read, with pleasing characterisations - some feat considering that one of the characters I ended up caring so much for is a rather foolish chicken. The story is told primarily from our young Nell's point of view with a more retrospective and untrustworthy alternative supplied by the eventual confessions of Patience Madden - one of a pair of sisters who accuse Nell of ill wishing them. The author also does a great job weaving some fascinating folklore and real herbcraft into the narrative.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! 24 Mar 2006
By J. Turner TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a rattling good yarn - the first time I've ever read a Julie Hearn book but not the last! I really enjoyed 'the Merrybegot'; I loved the way several different strands of folklore and history were woven together, the characters were not the usual stereotyped 'witches' and the plot was imaginative and the story was superbly told. Julie Hearn is an excellent writer and I look forward to reading more of her books - recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not All Merry Magic 8 Oct 2013
By M. J. Saxton VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A tale of cunning women and witch hunts set in the seventeenth century.
Nell is learning from her gran how to use nature's bounty to help heal as well as the ways of the midwife. They are a part of nature's pattern of life. Nell is a wellbegot, born as a result of midsummer celebrations.

When her path crosses that of Grace and Patience, the minister's daughters, the clash of religious belief and the old ways leads to a fatal conclusion.

Julie Hearn has come up with a story that explores the ways magic and medicine mixed in the early modern age. She evokes country life in a brilliantly believable way: the need for magic as cure, the everyday round of birth and death, the Sunday routine of church and chatter.

The spice to the story is the piskies and fairies, real beings of the countryside who bring humour and threat to the edges of the story and prove to be Nell's saviours.

At its heart comes the hysteria whipped up by the witchfinder. The village people become a group of savage beasts full of blood lust, unable to use common sense. The consequences run down the years and finally across to America.

The story would make a good children's TV programme because it is vividly told and has easily recognisable characters with depth and personality. It also has a twist in the tale beloved of some supernatural films.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SPELLBINDING 28 July 2013
By Mr. D. L. Rees TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Welcome here a writer in full control - this a tale of magic, mischief and malevolence. Wild and whirling words describe the 1645 plight of young Nell in a tiny highly superstitious West Country community. Here there be piskies "uglier than dead hedgehogs", Nell's "splutter-minded" granny, the new Puritan minister with a face "like a trodden parsnip". His quest is to drive evil from the village, "frolicking" especially. Little does he know his own daughter Grace has "frolicked" and is about to bring troubles down upon all. Nearly fifty years later, Grace's long suffering sister Patience at last reveals what really happened....

The story is great all the way through. Nell is a Merrybegot, one protected by The Powers - like her "cunning woman" granny, she a healer of illness, deliverer of babies, the one to turn to in times of woe. Far away but about to intrude, is a purge against witchcraft - for a fee, Witch-Finder General Matthew Hopkins only too keen to expose unsavoury practices, the gallows to follow.

Hysteria mounts and passions boil over - helped along by the spiteful tiny piskies so adept at sniffing out trouble and fanning the flames. (Fairies are little use, they most tetchy and not to be trusted.)

All in all, there is quite a mix, the various strands skilfully interwoven. The climax excites, with an interesting aftermath.

From the very start I was engrossed, happy to be swept along by such literary exuberance. In short, a veritable treat.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very different kind of book. I have read several books by Julie Hearn now. She writes well.
Published 21 days ago by Ursula Osborne
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic.
Set in 1645, this is a book full of mystery and magic, witches and witch finders. The story readily captures the reader's attention, full of suspense and fascination. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lily
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched and enjoyable
I didn't think I would like this book as I (foolishly) thought it would be typical YA fiction of spells and breathless race and chase for the post-Harry Potter generation. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J.R.Hartley
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of goodness and nature at war against a dark and spiteful...
There's something about this book that hooked me in and I quite enjoyed the read.

In the Merrybegot, there are all of the usual elements you'd expect in a novel... Read more
Published 4 months ago by JK
3.0 out of 5 stars In 1645 there was a merrybegot
I did not realise that the book was set so far in the past when i ordered it to review.

It started off ok, a young girl Nell and her cunning granny are potion makers,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Beanie Luck Spud
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, quite enjoyable.
Interesting little tale, nothing momentous but readable all the same. Pleasant mix of folklore and fantasy that meandered along nicely.
Published 7 months ago by baz
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, shades of Phillipa Gregory
This book with its historical setting and references to magik / witchcraft reminded me a little of Phillipa Gregory's novels, but I enjoyed this book much more. Read more
Published 7 months ago by envoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming Story
Don't care what age you might be....it would be hard to dislike this charmed tale of bygone years. Well done, Julie, I'll need looking out for more.
Published 7 months ago by Lizzie Mac
4.0 out of 5 stars About witch hunting
What did people do before they had TVs? The answer is they went witch hunting. This book is set at "the height of the witch craze in England" in the 1640s. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tim Roast
1.0 out of 5 stars The Merrybegot
I did not like this book at all. Very confusing and nonsensical. Perhaps if I had stuck with it and continued to the end it might have improved but as I was not enjoying it I... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Fifer
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