Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird
“The Betrayal of Maggie Blair” by Elizabeth Laird is set in 17th century Scotland. This is a time of great conflict and difficulty. Poverty was rampant, women were easily accused and burned for being witches, and a religious feud was escalating toward civil war. These were the times that sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair had to live in. Maggie faces adversity time and time again, with trouble always at her heels. Throughout the book she grows to become a strong, yet naïve, young woman who knows what she wants from her life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would definitely not recommend it to the younger teen crowd who drools for vampires and steamy romance. Despite the fact that heroine is sixteen years old and quite innocent, I see this appealing to an older audience. The obstacles that Maggie struggles with and the history of the time period make this a bit too heavy for the younger reader. Religion plays a large role in the plot line of “The Betrayal of Maggie Blair”. It can get a tad overwhelming at times, but if you surrender yourself to being a part of this time period, you can get through it.
This story reminds me a lot of “Pillars of the Earth”. It’s obviously set centuries later and is aimed at a younger audience, but there are some general similarities. Bad things happening to good people, prejudice ruling over reason, finding the good in people no matter what the situation, and being true to yourself are just a few of the similar themes. As with “Pillars of the Earth”, there were times that I could barely stand to read on because I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing something bad happen again. I would find myself saying aloud “When will poor Maggie Blair get a break?” The supporting cast definitely helped to further develop Maggie’s character, but don’t be fooled by my mentioning them. This book is ALL Maggie. The only consistent secondary character is her grandmother’s friend, the rogue Tam. He shows Maggie that good people can come in all forms.
I think this and the denseness of the religious/historical aspect made it a slower read and again, makes me think it would be better for mature YA readers and those adults who enjoy historical fiction. Be warned. This isn’t a historical romance. It’s a tale of self-discovery and strength through great adversity. So, in the end, I’m glad I read it. Though a bit dense and harder to get through than other YA novels, I think the reader is rewarded with a satisfying ending with a heroine that is strong and REAL, a refreshing change of pace in the world of YA fiction inundated with fantastical elements and unrealistic love triangles.
"The Betrayal of Maggie Blair" is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They provided me with an advanced reader's copy. It is scheduled to be released in April of this year.