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The Boy in Red by Violet Needham
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The Boy in Red (1948)

by Violet Needham

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‘The Boy in Red’ is set in Holland in the 16th century. It features a 12-year-old boy called Maurice, in the period when there were violent battles between the Roman Catholics and the Calvinists in Europe. Life is dangerous. Maurice is devoted to the Prince of Orange (William the Silent), and his parents agree to let him become a page in the royal service.

I found it quite hard to get into this story at first. I didn’t know anything much about this period in European history, and was shocked at the extent of the bloodshed. However, by the time I was half way through it became difficult to put the book down. It’s well-written, with plenty of excitement and tension, and Violet Needham is clever in weaving her story of the fictional page into historical scenarios.

I liked Maurice as a character, but found most of the others a little two-dimensional; there were rather too many people for me to relate to them all. It might have helped if I had been familiar with the historical context. Recently re-published by 'Girls Gone By'.

Three and a half stars would perhaps be fairer.
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  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
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It was a happy house in spite of the troublous times, the house athwart the dark canal; a place where love and confidence reigned in spite of sharply cut differences of opinion over vital matters.
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