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Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable and surprising read and a classic tale, 19 July 2004
This review is from: Ivanhoe (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
For a couple of years after I got my copy of this book, it sat, getting dusty, on my shelf. Having heard great things about this classic novel, I found that every time I tried to start reading it, I would give up after only a few pages, defeated by the style of writing and by the slow beginning to the story.
However, one day I managed to get past the first twenty pages or so, and once I had done so I found myself hooked into this tale of Saxon versus Norman, heroes, battles and castles under siege...
Ivanhoe has been banished from the family home after falling for his father's ward, the Saxon princess Rowena. Ivanhoe's father has plans for Rowena to marry another man, Athelstane, in order to unite the Saxon people and, he hopes, help to make them a force to be reckoned with - capable of taking on the Normans. As the novel begins, Ivanhoe has returned, in disguise, to his homeland, hoping to somehow win Rowena as his bride...
What follows is a genuinely enjoyable story. "Ivanhoe" certainly is not the boring book it is sometimes suggested to be - yep, it was surprising to me, too! There is a tremendous amount of action involved in a fast-moving plot, and the characters - of both sexes, and from all backgrounds, are exceptionally well-drawn. The most prominent woman in the novel, Rebecca, despite being a female character in an historical novel, doesn't just sit around waiting to be rescued etc! - she is strong and intelligent and also very likeable.
"Ivanhoe" is notable as one of the first books written in the English language to deal with the issue of racism and it is very sensitively handled here. The book is also a cracking good read, a novel which surprised me - not only with its scope and depth, but also by how much I enjoyed it once I had given it a chance. I really got caught up in the story and the writing, against my expectations, and for me, it is a 5-star book - entertaining and a true classic.
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4.3 out of 5 stars (10 customer reviews)
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