The Devil's Novice by Ellis Peters. 151 pages.
Two more investigations for medieval sleuth Brother Cadfael. Peters creates a very believable world for her characters to inhabit, whether or not it's a true picture of Shropshire in the 1100's.
In the first, a goldsmith is assaulted and robbed and a hue and cry loosed after the jongleur who performed at his house earlier in the same evening. He seeks sanctuary in the Abbey church, and Brother Cadfael is not convinced of his guilt.
The second concerns an apparently devout new novice in the Abbey whose nightmares cause the other monks to distrust and fear him, even before he becomes a murder suspect…
These books are like pieces of lovingly carved furniture - both decorative and fulfilling their intended purpose.
Autumn Term by Antonia Forest. 285 pages.
I missed out on Antonia Forest's school stories as a small person, but I can see why they're so popular now that hooloovoo_42 has been kind enough to lend me her copies.
Nicola and Lawrie Marlow are heading off to their first term at Kingscote school, which would be daunting enough, even if they didn't have four elder sisters already there with an established reputation for excellence in several different areas.
I have little in common with these characters and, honestly, didn't like them much at first, but Forest is brilliant at conveying her character's feelings and making the reader care about them. I though she depicted particularly well the desperate way young girls care about things which seem hopelessly trivial to their elders and the difficulty of communication between generations. By the end I was very much on the side of the main characters, even though they're far from perfect, and indignant when they were treated unjustly.
These books are largely out of print these days, which seems a great shame.