Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Princess Adelina by Julie Sutter

Every so often I am reminded that I am not the only one to be interested in rediscovering lost gems! Many of the publishers and suppliers catering to home educators have resurrected, rebound, and re-released long-forgotten tales for new audiences. Such is The Princess Adelina, now published in a beautiful new hardback edition by Vision Forum.

Originally published by the Religious Tract Society, The Princess Adelina is a fictionalised account of the early life of Bilihild, wife of Hedan II of Thuringia. When the story opens, this little province just north of Bavaria in sixth-century Germany still has an uneasy relationship with the Irish missionaries and their Christian faith. After the Christian Herzog, or duke, dies and his pagan son Hedan inherits Thuringia, the Christian settlers fear that their uneasy peace is over. But then Hedan falls in love with the Christian maiden Adelina (Bilihild), and orders her to marry him. To save her people from Hedan's wrath, Adelina complies and comes to love the prince even as she learns to fear his controlling mother, Geila. But the pagan nobles of Thuringia are determined to destroy her, and the undisciplined love of a heathen can never be a good foundation for future happiness. The clouds are gathering. What is to become of Adelina and her people?

This was a quick read and would be an excellent read-aloud choice for young children. Although the language is archaic, it is deftly handled and was never obstructive. I get the impression that the story was heavily fictionalised by the author, but I did enjoy the suspense and adventure woven into the plot. While girls will find this story most attractive, there's plenty to interest boys as well.

There was a good amount of historical detail and (knowing Vision Forum) generally excellent theological points. This was definitely the first novel I've ever read with information on the earliest monasteries--family communities which men with their wives and children established in heathen countries to serve as evangelistic centres. It was also pleasant to read a story in which the heroine is reminded of 1 Peter 3:1-2:
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 
The Vision Forum edition has been edited by Perry and Kimberly Coghlan. Not having read the original, I can't comment on any changes they might have made, but must commend the publishers for producing such a pretty book, in such a lovely hardback. Thank you, folks!

2 comments:

Lady Bibliophile said...

Ah, yes, I have enjoyed this one as well. I thought it odd that Adelina disregarded the command to 'be not unequally yoked with unbelievers' after all, God could have delivered her people by another means than her marriage. But it has the excellent illustration of winning husbands into the faith with respectful actions. I enjoyed the history of the Irish missionaries as well. :)

Suzannah said...

Yes, I thought she gave in rather easily as well. "I can't marry you!" "Then you and your people will regret it!" "...Right ho then."

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