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The Guilt of Innocents

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Guilt of Innocents (2006) Candace Robb (Owen Archer)

The Guilt of InnocentsSet in England in 1372

Although this story is about the murder of a dockworker, beneath and beside that the story is about children. It’s about Jasper, Lucie & Owen’s adopted son, who is finally coming to accept Lucie and Owen as his parents, even while he still remembers the parents he lost.

‘Tell him who you are, Jasper.’

‘It’s Jasper de Melton, from St Peter’s. This is my Da, Captain Archer.’

Owen patted Jasper on the shoulder, more for the two-letter word than for his execution of the order.

Jasper’s face was again hidden by his hair. He sighed and rocked the tankard on the boards. ‘Do you mind when I call you “Da”?’

‘Mind? God help me, it’s all I can do not to hug you right there. I’m proud of you, son, I am, but, even if I weren’t as proud of you as I am right now, I’d still be proud to have you call me “Da”.’ He shut up, hearing himself going on like a blithering fool.

It’s also about Alisoun, who went to Magda after her family died in the plague, because no one in her family wanted her.

You say you are keen to be a healer. Have you always wished to be one?’

Alisoun shook her head as she slipped her hand from Lucie’s. ‘I wanted to work with horses. That is all I wanted to do.’

‘Yes. I recall how you tended your family’s horse,’ said Lucie. ‘What made you change your mind? What has inspired you to become a healer of men?’

‘Meeting the Riverwoman. When I was biding in her home I saw that she did not fear what would happen if she weren’t like others. She knew how to live in the world in her own way.

Although they are both barely teenagers, they often have to made adult choices. Jasper is already in his path, being one of Lucie’s apprentices, but Alisoun is struggling to find her way.

It’s also about Jasper’s classmate, Hubert, who has come to York to go to school, and who ends up at the center of things when his scrip is stolen by a riverman. Hubert has the hardest lessons of all to learn in this story, discovering that neither of his parents was who he thought they were.

I did like this mention of Wulfstan, who is missed not just by Lucie and her family, but also by me.

Scanning the room for Drogo, he was startled by memories. The hanging herbs, tidy rows of pallets, indeed the smell of the room reminded him of many visits with Brother Wulfstan. Owen had seldom come here since his friend’s death three years earlier. Brother Henry was capable, but not gifted like his predecessor; neither Lucie nor Owen came to him for advice.

Although that reminder of Wulfstan’s passing also reminds us that both Magda and Thoresby are very old for the time in which they lived, and Magda will be missed even more than Wulfstan when she eventually dies.

Folk enjoyed nothing so much as someone else’s trouble except perhaps talking of things they knew nothing about.

There is juxtaposition between the youth of Jasper, Alisoun, and Hubert, with Thoresby, Phillipa, and Magda–the youth beginning their lives and making their choices as Thoresby, Phillipa, and Magda are closing in on their inexorable ends

Thoresby paused with his back to Owen, bowing his head for a moment, hands clasped behind his back, his archbishop’s ring catching the light from the brazier. They were old hands now. The archbishop had aged greatly in the nine years that Owen had known him.

It’s another interesting story.

Publisher: Diversion Books
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Re-Read     Comments (0)    



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