The Booke of Prayre is tiny, beautiful, and incredibly old. Jane Grey has no idea how it got mixed up with her library books. She reads a passage aloud and slips back in time to Tudor England. There, she comes face to face with Lady Jane Grey, the teenager who was queen for nine days before being imprisoned and executed for treason. Jane starts visiting her new friend in the Tower of London whenever the present gets too hard to handle—a fickle best friend, an impossible crush, and a mother spinning out of control. The two girls’ lives begin to intertwine. Can one Jane save the other? Can they help each other find the courage they need to face two very different fates?
Debut novel NAMESAKE earns starred Quill & Quire review
In her debut novel, Sue MacLeod successfully accomplishes a feat many more experienced writers struggle with: weaving an historical narrative smoothly into a contemporary storyline. The Toronto author uses the tried-and-true device of time travel to bring together two very different girls who share the same name: Jane Grey.
Modern Jane is a 15-year-old Halifax girl trying to navigate the first few months of high school and a host of typical teen problems, which pale in comparison when she comes face-to-face with a girl whose life is about to come to an abrupt end.
NAMESAKE is “Suspenseful, emotional and powerful.” – Kirkus Reviews
A modern-day Canadian girl named Jane Grey travels back in time to meet the Lady Jane Grey, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1553.
Bookish Jane is doing research for a paper about her namesake Lady Jane Grey, the 15-year-old who was queen of England for nine days and later executed by Queen Mary. Finding an old prayer book, she reads a prayer out loud and is transported to the Tower of London, where only Lady Jane, who calls her “Namesake,” can see her. Using the prayer book to time travel at will, she becomes friends with Lady Jane and tries to think of a way to save the brilliant and innocent teenager. Meanwhile in the present, Jane tries to escape her alcoholic mother’s increasingly aggressive and bizarre behavior. When the two stories collide just before Lady Jane’s scheduled execution, Jane struggles to save herself and her friend. MacLeod writes the modern sections in a heightened style that almost feels more like poetry than prose. She writes Lady Jane’s dialogue in Tudor English, modifying it only slightly for modern readers. Her vivid descriptions of the filthy turmoil of 1553 London, when even the nobility often had lice, should open some eyes. Most importantly, she strives to get the history right.
Suspenseful, emotional and powerful.
NAMESAKE earns four stars from CM Magazine
In every way, this novel is a triumph. MacLeod deftly weaves the modern Jane’s contemporary story with the true-life tale of Lady Jane Grey. Both storylines are fully developed and vividly rendered, with the time-travel element simply and elegantly incorporated into the fabric of Jane’s present-day life. In so doing, the author expertly brings the history to life for her readers while concurrently crafting a poignant tale of a modern teen’s efforts to navigate the hardships of both high school and a troubled home life.
Slip Sliding Away … with Lady Jane Grey
The time-slip story is a difficult one to pull off. How do you elegantly move your main character from his or her current day reality into a past time period and someone else’s reality without beggaring belief or losing your reader? And how do you mesh the telling of two parallel, fully realized stories without letting one or the other down?
I have just finished reading Namesake, published this month by Pajama Press. This is Sue MacLeod’s debut novel and I am entirely impressed. The story is believable, beautifully crafted, and balanced. The depth and strength of the prose is not surprising once you learn that Sue MacLeod is a poet with two collections to her name. But what amazes me is the skill with which MacLeod moves her characters through their individual emotional journeys. The plotting is superb.
Canadian Family magazine featured Namesake in its Great Summer Reads section for 2013, naming it as one of three recommended books for ages 13 to 16. It was also a 2013 Best Books for Kids & Teens selection by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and was shortlisted for the IODE’s Violet Downey Book Award.
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