HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: St. Bartholomew’s Eve: A Tale of the Huguenot Wars
Author: G. A. Henty
Illustrator: H. J. Draper
Publisher: Robinson Books, republished 2002
Related website: http:///www.robinsonbooks.org (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 12-18 and up
Rating: ***** Five stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Many publishers and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion. Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Henty, G(eorge). A(lfred). St. Bartholomew’s Eve: A Tale of the Huguenot Wars (originally published in 1893; republished in 2002 by Robinson Books, 2251 Dick George Rd., Cave Junction, OR 97523, division of Althouse Press and Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine). It is 1567, and sixteen year old Philip Fletcher lives in Canterbury, England. His mother Lucie, her sister, and brother-in-law Gaspard Vaillant, were Huguenot émigrés from France in 1547. Lucie married an English farmer, John Fletcher, who was injured shortly after Philip was born and became a helpless invalid. Philip’s uncle Gaspard became a wealthy manufacturer and helped to raise the boy. Vaillant proposes to send Philip to stay with another aunt, Emilie, the Countess of Laville, and her son Francois, who is a year older than Philip, to help them and their fellow Protestants in the persecutions waged against them by the French Catholic authorities.
During the course of his many dangerous adventures, Philip rides with the armies of the Prince of Conde, Admiral Coligny, and other Huguenot leaders of France; meets the Protestant Prince Henri of Navarre, who later becomes King of France; and rescues a young Huguenot girl, Claire de Valecourt, from slaughter. Henty’s story leads up to the terrible events of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots. Will Philip survive the massacre? Can he and his friends escape? And what happens in France? This enthralling narrative is an amazingly well-written book about the Huguenots’ struggles in France. Yes, there are fighting and killing, but it shows the truth of the Huguenot wars, without being too bloody or gory. Parts of my home county were settled by Huguenot refugees, and I grew up hearing their descendants tell their stories. One reviewer, who admitted, “Based on my personal research into the history of the Huguenots in France I can attest to the historical accuracy of the background narrative for this story,” yet criticized the book, saying, “The dialogue is stilted. (I suspect that this may be due to the nature of Victorian-era novels.) Not only do the characters consistently speak in complete sentences but often as well in rather long discourses.”
Well, excuse me. Is it really that bad that the characters consistently speak in complete sentences, rather than “Huh? Yeah. What’s up? Gotta go”? The fact that Henty wrote in good, proper English is one reason why so many homeschool families like his books. There are a few references to dancing and drinking wine. But the main thing to note about St. Bartholomew’s Eve is the large amount of research done. One may not necessarily agree with everything that the Huguenots did in their defense, but even if I didn’t have Biblical reasons for my religious beliefs, I would have to conclude, based simply on its history of promoting, or at least endorsing, such events as the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots and other forms of persecution against those with whom it has disagreed through the ages, that the Roman Catholic Church, regardless of what changes it has made since then, is not a religious organization with which I would want to have any association. For those who want their kids to get into history, G. A. Henty is truly an amazing author.