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Fair Margaret Review by Krystin CorneilsonBy H. Rider Haggard
Great Light Publications
422 S. Williams Ave.
Palatine, IL 60074
To read about the horrors of Spanish Inquisition in a textbook alone might make it seem like an exaggerated time in history. It's hard to believe that such shocking acts of violence to punish blasphemers in the name of protecting our loving God ever happened. But they did. How?
Fair Margaret is a historical novel that starts out in England in the late 1400s and revolves around the life of Margaret, a Christian maiden who was beautiful inside and out. Her father, who acts the part of a non-conformist Christian, is actually of Jewish ancestry, which he keeps a secret because of the persecution he and his family could suffer. There are also issues of noble blood and rank and the power of money and of the religious leaders. The storylines of truth and character are intertwined with those of deceit and greed. Loyalties are tested, as are faith and promises. There are kings and queens, swords, ships, weddings, and disguises--enough action and intrigue to satisfy all!
The turning point of the novel is set at a religious ceremony in Spain where those accused of blasphemy, including Margaret's father, were paraded to the location where their punishments would be meted out. The dire penalties for heretics included hanging and burning, among others.
The tale concludes with God's grace prevailing and those common people who believed in Him finding true justice. Margaret, her family, and a few others are heroic examples of how believers keep their faith even through impossible trials and tribulations.
Fair Margaret is aimed at ages 12 and up and can be utilized in a number of ways. It would be a great supplement to a history textbook of this era. It could also be used in a Christian Character class at home or at a co-op as it lends itself nicely to discussion. It could also be used for a book club choice or for a literature analysis assignment.
It took a little persistence to "get into" Fair Margaret because it is written in a style that I do not normally read. However, it was well worth it! The characters in this 304-page novel were well developed, the colorful stories kept my attention, the historical details were fascinating, and all of the storylines were finished in satisfying ways.
Although the book offers enough fodder for it, no discussion questions or conversation starters are incorporated. Of course, as it was originally published in 1907, such appendices or extras were not commonly included.
Despite the fact that the Spanish Inquisition was hundreds of years ago, there are lessons to be learned for Christian life today. My daughter is a freshman in high school and is studying world history using literature, textbooks, and the Bible. This is a valuable addition because it will make the shocking details more realistic and, therefore, more worthy of remembering.