At the Sign of the Sugared Plum
Ages 12 and up
Bloomsbury 2003, $16.95, 1-58234-859-9
Most of us don't remember our first trip to the city. We don't remember the feelings of sheer wonder and excitement that such a trip can arouse. For Hannah, going to London for the first time, and better still, living there with her sister Sarah, is the most wonderful adventure she has ever had in her happy but rather sheltered life. Sarah owns and runs a sweet shop, The Sugared Plum, and Hannah has come to help her make the candies and sweetmeats sold in the shop. Even before Hannah arrives at the Sugared Plum, she gets warnings that all is not well in the great city, warnings that she chooses to ignore. Even after she finds the shop and is reunited with her sister Hannah brushes off the warning and worrying remarks that her sister makes about the possibility of a plague spreading through the city. After all, there are only a few cases of the illness in the more distant slums Hannah insists, determined to stay in London and become a city lady.
Alas, this state of affairs does not last, and Hannah and her sister watch and listen with fear and horror as the plague begins its terrifyingly rapid spread through the city. In this time of great misery and suffering Hannah discovers a great deal about herself and others, about the cruelty and also the compassion that can lie in the hearts of both friends and strangers. Somehow, Hannah and her sister have to survive this terrible calamity and escape the terrible monster that threatens both their lives.
Beautifully written, gripping, and able to transport us into a London of 1665 complete with its sounds, smells and its people, this is a book which cannot be too highly recommended.
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