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Leofwine the Monk

Elfreda the Saxon

By Emma Leslie
Salem Ridge Press

4263 Salem Drive
Emmaus, PA 18049

Leofwine the Monk and Elfreda the Saxon were written by Emma Leslie, a children's writer who lived 1837-1909. The first book is about a Saxon boy who does not fit in with the rough and brutal world of his father and brother. His father allows him to become a monk. In his quest he learns from other men who are preaching against some of the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and in his search for Truth he becomes a pilgrim to the Holy Land. This book ends with the Norman Conquest of England.

Book Two, Elfreda the Saxon, picks up about a hundred years later when the Saracens take the Holy Land back from the Crusaders. Elfreda is one of the orphans who was released to be taken back from Jerusalem to England. She goes to the home of her aunt, who has married one of the Normans and is afraid to let the world know of her Saxon roots. There is the belief among the people that their ancestor, Leofwine, had left a curse on their family because of his beliefs. Elfreda becomes acquainted with her aunt's firstborn son, who is a knight heading for the second round of Crusades to reclaim Jerusalem. The two eventually marry, and their experiences lead them to doubt the doctrines of the Catholic Church as well and become outcasts. This story leads up to the signing of the Magna Charta and the beginnings of the Church of England.

These books are very well written and very readable in spite of the fact that they were written in the 1800s. I enjoyed them and the additional insight they gave me. They provide a pleasurable way to understand English history and Church history. I would say that the history lesson is just a by-product of the opportunity to read a good story. My granddaughter is very interested in reading about this time period anyway, so these will be a welcome addition to her reading list and all the more fun because they were written so long ago.

Product review by Christine Hindle, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, January 2010

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