A Lily, A Rose

By Sally Nicholls

1. This book was about a girl called Elinor who lived in a castle with her father as her mother died when she was younger. Her father was a knight. She didn't have any friends apart from her horse Moonlight and her maid Alice. The only person that was her age was her cousin Dan. Elinor was very good at chess and after one match with him everything changed. She fell in love with him but her father did not accept this. At the age of fourteen her father asks her to marry a friend of his but she does not want to.

The genre of this book is historical fiction. My favourite character was Elinor as she was the main character and I felt sorry for her because she was going through a lot. The story made me keep on guessing what would happen next and wasn't revealing. The characters felt real as the description of their thoughts and feelings were described very well. My favourite part of the book was the ending as even though she didn't get to be with Dan she at least got to be with someone she liked. The scenes where she didn't know what to do were the best scenes as they were gripping as you would want to know what happened next. This was a good book as it was unexpected and didn't end the way I thought it would. If the book could be better I would say it could have been a bit longer and more descriptive. I would strongly recommend this book to older readers who prefer shorter and quick books who are also a fan of historical relationship drama. I would also recommend this book to people who like climax books as every chapter was a climax. I would give this book a 9.5 out of ten as I think it could have been more longer and descriptive but the storyline overall was very good.

By Harni

2. A lily, a rose is a really good book I would highly recommend it to anyone over the age of 10. The book has a romantic theme. It's about a girl called Elinor who is fourteen years old. She lives with her father and a maid called Alice in his castle. Her mum died when she was young. She has a horse called Moonlight that she really enjoys riding. One day at the castle a boy called Dan comes to train as a knight, After a little while she starts falling in love with him and they start spending more time with each other. She wants to marry him but her father won't let her because it's up to her father and not who she wants to marry. Her father wanted her to marry Sir William. She loved Dan too much to want to marry Sir William. She tried her hardest to make him not want her to marry him. Nothing worked. She told Alice everything. She couldn't do anything either. She finally went to tell Sir William how she felt about the marriage and how strange it was because of the age difference. He understands how she felt so instead she married his son Adam who was sixteen years old. Elinor and Dan unfortunately didn't last. She moved to Adam's fathers castle were they rode their horses, went shooting and hunting together. Dan wasn't very happy about her marrying Adam and moving to Scotland but Dan couldn't do anything about it.

By Chloe

3. A Lily, A Rose by Sally Nicholls is a historical romance about a 14 year old girl. Lady Elinor's cousin Dan comes to visit to train as a knight and throughout the beginning of the story they fall in love. Soon Elinor's father finds out about their relationship together and splits them up so they can no longer see each other.

Her father then decides to invite his friend Sir William of Courtney who is about 50 years old to marry his daughter of 14 years of age as he is looking for a new reliable wife. Elinor is shocked to hear the news about the arranged marriage and wishes she could choose who to marry; she didn't even want to think of becoming married at this age. Elinor ends up meeting Sir William and has a chat with him that she doesn't want to marry him as she is too young. Sir William then speaks to Elinor's father and they both agree she should marry his son instead called Adam who is 16 years old. Still Elinor doesn't like this idea, but she has no choice. Elinor ends up marrying Adam at the end of the story and apologises to Dan and hopes they can stay friends.

I did not enjoy reading A Lily, A Rose because it is not the type of genre I would choose. I think the history used was a good part of the story because, when this was written for the first time girls like Elinor would have had an arranged marriage at such a young age. Other history used is that it was set in a castle, the father was a knight and they had a maid called Alice. It helped me understand how important it was to have an arranged marriage and help me imagine how each character felt about the situation they were in. I did want to find out more how Adam and Elinor were now? What happened to Dan? Did Sir William of Courtney find a new wife?  The story is accurate because, it was based on the story written in 1300's of the upper class and what their lives were like and also this story comes from The Maidens Song written in 1500's.

By Ellen

4. Set in the 1300s, "A Lily, A Rose" perfectly conveys the challenges that a female would experience every day in Edwardian England. The plot consists of monumental highs and crushing lows as we follow the story of the young Lady Elinor as she fights against her arranged marriage and battles to stay with her true love; her cousin, Dan.

Although the ending may not have been the one that everyone expected or desired, it was both practical and believable, as well as being a refreshing change from the extremely cliché "happily ever after". The book's climax resulted in the protagonist outwitting her older suitor in order to allow her to marry his son, who is a similar age to her. Their relationship doesn't have an immediate "love at first sight" aspect about it, but that just makes the plot even more believable. Even after their wedding, the couple still discuss the people they used to desire, with Elinor's husband asking her "Do you still love him?" whilst referring to Dan. Elinor even replies honestly, stating "I don't know. No, I do know. I do love him. But... I'm married now".

Sally Nicholls manages to not only make the text accessible to those who have difficulty reading (through the use of "Dyslexia Friendly" vocabulary, combined with the fact that the text is under 100 pages long), but also manages to grip the more experienced audience with the story's thrilling plot. In only 65 pages the audience is transported back in time to the days of knights, kings and forbidden love. Elinor proves to all the young female readers that, if you use your skills to your advantage, things will turn out fine; this is highlighted by the fact that Elinor is influencing all of the men around her. She manages to achieve this using nothing but her wit, which is no small task, as in Edwardian England women were seen as inferior to males, especially when they were young.

Historical context if featured throughout the novel and is incredibly accurate and informative. All of the situations presented in the novel would have occurred regularly in the Edwardian era, such as arranged marriages and women being forced into matrimony from an incredibly young age. Additionally, the references to castles, knights and kings are all accurate to the period that the novel is set in, giving the book a further sense of authenticity. The only part of the novel that is detectibly inaccurate in terms of historical context is the dialog used, which was deliberately altered to suit dyslexic readers.Although the plot initially seems very similar to a traditional fairy-tale , the plot quickly changes into a much deeper, intricate web of true love, cunning and stereotypes, giving it a unique storyline, unlike anything I have ever read before.

It is typical of Sally Nicholls to set her novel in Medieval England, but this ensures that she is writing to her strengths, as she has had experience in this area of historical fiction many times before. The author conveys the situations described in the novel effectively through her use of a protagonist who is of a similar age to the majority of her audience, which allows the reader to form deep links of empathy towards the character's situation, which could not have worked as well if the character was older.

Lady Elinor's character rapidly develops throughout the novel, as we see her transform from a naïve child into a headstrong young woman. Her situation requires her to mature much faster than a child of her age would be expected to in present times, but Elinor's ability to adjust is one of the qualities that make her so admirable. The protagonist is a positive and inspirational role model for young women everywhere, due to her resilience and quick thinking.

In conclusion, the novel was simply brilliant in all areas and I am eager to read many more  books from Sally Nicholls in the future.

By Elise

5. This short story reads very well as a romance.   It is easy to identify with the feelings of the main character, Lady Elinor, as she falls in love with Dan, a knight in training at the court of her father, and to feel her horror as he announces she is to be married off to a stranger old enough to BE her father!  This real dilemma for Elinor makes for a compelling plotline and brings home to readers today just what it was like to be a woman of this class in Medieval times and how limited the choices available to women were.  Because the story is so short and so simply written for its target audience it is difficult to get a real sense of the Medieval  period in which it is set through descriptive detail or dialogue.  Nicholls does an excellent  job though within the constraints she is working under. Elinor is an appealing character and we learn much about her situation and social status through her emotional dilemma, we want her to find her happy ending!

By Cramlington Learning Village, Northumberland

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