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Master Rosalind by John Louis Beatty

Master Rosalind

by John Louis Beatty

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191537,190 (3.88)2
  1. 00
    A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: A Murder for Her Majesty will appeal to those readers who enjoyed the disguise Rosalind had to adopt to remain safe (and perform) in Elizabethan England. In a Murder for Her Majesty, Alice must also evade the clutches of murderous strangers and hides and performs amongst the boys of the choir in York.… (more)

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Rosalind Broome, a girl of gentle birth, has no desire to become a lady - instead she prefers to dress as a boy upon her errands for her grandfather. On one such occasion, Rosalind is kidnapped and taken into the underworld of London. But her failure as a pickpocket soon leaves her free to try her hand at the theater. Her talent for acting shows itself early as she manages to convince even accomplished players that she is a boy. But far more than the wrath of her grandfather rests upon her head if she is discovered - a relative seeks her death to secure his title, and females on the stage are strictly forbidden by law.

This plotline is one of my favorites - girls dressed up as boys playing girls on Shakespeare's stage. And this one is certainly enjoyable, but it doesn't hold up to my favorites. On more than one occasion I felt like this was a shadow of a mixture of King of Shadows by Susan Cooper and A Murder for Her Majesty.

This was written in that 'children's historical novel' style where there's snippets of history worked clumsily into the narrative. The sentences often seem crafted to explain too much rather than letting the sense of the unfamiliar words flow naturally. But I will grant them that there were interesting tidbits I didn't know before both about the thieves' world and the theater.

The mystery didn't work particularly well because of the inclusion of scenes from the villains' points of view - I think it would have been more effective if the readers knew as little as Rosalind. The plot isn't bad, and at times there was a sense of the spirited girl Rosalind was supposed to be, but it didn't capture the spirit of the theater like other books on this subject I have read, and Rosalind seemed to worry precious little about being found out.

Not bad, and I'll probably keep it in my collection, but I'd recommend King of Shadows for the theater aspects. And probably My Father Had a Daughter for the cross-dressing player bits.

Also posted at my blog. ( )
  Caramellunacy | Apr 27, 2008 |
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A young girl disguises herself as a boy to play feminine roles in the theater of Shakespearean England.

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