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A Murder for Her Majesty (1986)

by Beth Hilgartner

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569836,911 (4.35)23
Horrified at having witnessed her father's murder and fearing that the killers are agents of Queen Elizabeth I, eleven-year-old Alice Tuckfield hides in the Yorkshire cathedral by disguising herself as one of the choirboys.
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    A Swarm in May by William Mayne (Sakerfalcon)
    Sakerfalcon: Life as a cathedral chorister, one set in Elizabethan times and the other modern. Both books are a great look at this unique community way of life.

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Summary: Young Alice Tuckfield is out playing when she oversees something terrible - the murder of her father. Unable to go home for fear that the men responsible will find her too, she heads to the nearby city of York in search of a family friend. But young girls are not typically on their own in Elizabethan England, and overwhelmed and alone, she is quickly taken in by the boys of the York Minster Cathedral Choir. Once they discover her musical ability, they disguise her as a boy and hide her in their ranks. But it's only a matter of time before her true identity is revealed - especially since one of the men involved in the plot against her father works at the cathedral.

Review: This was a solid, enjoyable, mid-grade historical fiction. I probably would have loved it if I'd read it in grade school. And luckily, it made the transition to adult readership pretty well; the plot is obviously pretty simple but it also didn't feel juvenile, which can be problematic in books for this age level. (In particular, the court politics involving Alice's father weren't developed super-strongly.) I do always like the "girls disguising themselves as boys" device in historical fiction (and fantasy), and while this wasn't the most effective version of this plot I've read - most character's reactions to Alice's female-ness were a little anachronistically nonchalant - it was still fun. I did enjoy the setting - the life of choir boys in Elizabethan England is not something that I'd ever read (or thought?) about before, and Hilgartner manages to bring the setting to life without large obtrusive sections of description. There's an obvious love of music, especially choir music, but it's still perfectly accessible for someone (like me) whose musical background extends no further than childhood piano lessons. All in all, I had a fun time reading this, and can see myself revisiting it as a comfort read. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It's not at all thematically similar, but it's at a similar age level to books like My Brother Sam is Dead. Younger fans of historical fiction should have a good time with this, as well as adult readers who want something easy but not silly. It's set around Christmastime, so it would be a good winter read. ( )
  fyrefly98 | May 19, 2013 |
A nifty little story about a girl masquerading as a boy in a cathedral choir, with intrigue and suspense regarding the murder of her father. Set in Elizabethan England, but you'd really never know that from the text, except for a passing reference or two to the Queen by name. Not really "historical" fiction. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Aug 27, 2012 |
This book was a read aloud for school and was a favorite for both my son and me ( )
  sonsmama | May 20, 2010 |
A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth hilgartner tells the story of a young girl living in the who witnesses the murder of her own father. The girl feels threatened because of information she uncovers about her father's death so she leaves her home in search of a family friend. Full of mystery, intrigue, and danger this is a wonderful adventure that takes the reader back in time to Europe's Elizabethan age.

I am a fan of Queen Elizath and have read many things about her including her own writings. I also enjoy mystery and suspense so this book was a perfect choice for me. I am definitely going to give this book to my own children and am interested to see what their response is.

In the classroom this book could be used in a Literature or History class. There is so much literature available from this time period and a lot of interesting history. It is a novel , however, and therefore would be difficult to fit into a classroom schedule. I would recommend it for students personal reading. ( )
  adharrington | Oct 26, 2008 |
i read this book at class with my class mates and teacher and i think its classicaly wonderful!!!!!!!!!
  madfan245 | Jun 15, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beth Hilgartnerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alexander FarquharsonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For John, who gave me Byrd
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Alice was cold.
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Horrified at having witnessed her father's murder and fearing that the killers are agents of Queen Elizabeth I, eleven-year-old Alice Tuckfield hides in the Yorkshire cathedral by disguising herself as one of the choirboys.

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