The Prince and the Pilgrim (by Mary Stewart)

I find Mary Stewart a fascinating author. She has written some excellent suspenseful romances, which I have very much enjoyed. She also wrote some more straightforward historical fiction intended for teenagers. Her style is excellent, and her characters come to life easily.

I read 'The Prince and the Pilgrim' aloud to my sons, aged 15 and 13. Reading aloud introduces them to books they might not otherwise read for themselves, and is something we hope to continue until they leave home.

There are two separate plots in the opening chapters of this book, making it a little confusing at first. It's set in mediaeval times in the UK.

One thread is about a young man called Alexander, who is in exile with his mother after his father was murdered by King March of Cornwall. The other thread features Alice, a girl who accompanies her father on pilgrimages each year.

Eventually - unsurprisingly - Alexander and Alice meet, and fall in love. They must then overcome Madoc, an unpleasant relative of Alice's, who had been expecting to marry her. In their absence, he has established himself in her father's home.

I found this realistic and very well-written, and we all enjoyed it. Definitely recommended, for teenagers or adults. Still in print in the UK, and widely available second-hand in both UK and USA.

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