Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review: The Key to the Riddle, by Margaret S. Comrie

The Key to the Riddle, a story of Hugenot days, by Margaret Simson Comrie
Also published as:  A Loyal Hugenot Maid

Rating:  8 out of 10 stars

     Browsing through Librivox one day, I ran across this book.  I liked the reader, and generally found her choice of books to be quite good, so decided to listen to it while working on a sewing project.  Well, I immediately found myself immersed in the lives of Azerole and Leon Montoux, and listened almost breathlessly to the story of their dangers, struggles, and final triumph.  The author skillfully weaves an interesting story; one with strong elements of wholesome mystery and romance, some Swiss history, and the spiritual development of Azerole and her brother.

     The tale begins when Azerole and Leon are driven from their peaceful home by the ruthless troops of the Duke of Austria.  Footsore and on the verge of despair, they are conducted by a kind friend to the castle Brianza, where Azerole finds a cold shelter, almost forced from the lady of the castle by her friend.  Her brother also finds a home nearby, and the two encourage each other in their faith, despite the trials they meet with in their homes, and the uncertainty of their parents' fate.
     Azerole is puzzled by the contradictory emotions displayed by her cold, haughty mistress in the castle; and accidentally stumbles upon a mystery, hidden in the castle, and the chatelaine's heart.  She enjoys teaching the little crippled ward of her mistress, Christophe, and pours out on him the love of Christ, though his guardian seems to resent her teaching at times.  The trouble she is in only deepens when the son of the chatelaine returns home for a visit.  The evil Abbe Tetu hunts for the secret Madame Heloise is hiding, and plots begin to form around her, her son, Azerole, and even poor crippled little Christophe.  Leon too has his own troubles, and there seems little hope for a happy ending for either of them, but they are upheld by the faith that God holds "the key to the riddle" of their lives, and will only do that which is best for them.

A thought regarding age of readers:

     While this book is certainly not perfect, it is a very enjoyable and interesting story.  It is well written, and most importantly, is written from a distinctly Christian perspective.  I do not recommend it for young children, but ages 14 and up will enjoy it.  There is very little violence in it, but a strong element of romance.  For the most part it is in the proper boundaries, but it may be wise to discuss guarding one's heart when allowing a child to read this.  Just because "everything comes right in the end" doesn't mean that it always will, and many families have been made miserable because the parents are unequally yoked.  A Christian girl can never be too careful in guarding her heart; especially when the young man is not a Christian.  (See Chapter 15.)


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