HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Little Duke
Author: Charlotte Mary Yonge
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, republished in 2016
Related website: http://www.readaclassic.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating:***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Yonge, Charlotte Mary. The Little Duke (originally published in 1854; republished in 2011 by Read a Classic). It is A. D. 943, and eight year old Richard, son of William who is the Duke of Normandy with his capital at Rouen, lives at the Castle of Bayeux under the guidance of Fru (Lady) Astrida, her son Eric, who is the Baron of Centeville, and her grandson Osmond. One day a messenger brings news that William was treacherously assassinated by Arnulf who is Count of Flanders while meeting with him on the Isle of Pecquigny ostensibly for a peace conference. Richard becomes Duke at a tender age, but is soon taken prisoner to Laon by King Louis of France. What will happen to young Richard? Will he ever make it back to Normandy? Or are there plans to dispose of him too?
Author Charlotte M. Yonge (1823 – 1901) was an English novelist known for her huge output, now mostly out of print. She began writing in 1848, and published during her long life about 160 works, chiefly novels. Her first commercial success was The Heir of Redclyffe (1853). She was also a founder and editor for forty years of The Monthly Packet, a magazine targeted at British youth. Among her other well known works are Heartsease and The Daisy Chain. Yonge’s Biblical worldview, along with her fine writing and great ability to tell a good story without sermonizing, gave her writing such force.
The Little Duke is historical fiction based on the life of Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy (943-996), the great grandfather of William the Conqueror. The story first appeared in her magazine, The Monthly Packet, as a serial. An inspiring story, it relates the heroic tales of perils during his childhood, both at home in Normandy and during his captivity at the court of France, and how at long last he came to embrace the value of forgiveness which his father espoused. Yonge’s books for children were generally intended to provide uplifting instruction by means of the example of heroic persons of the past, conveying both a sense of moral virtues such as courage and a feel of the historical period.