Troubadour [NOOK Book]


A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th century Southern France. As crusaders sweep through the country, destroying all those who do not follow their religion, Bertrand risks his life to warn others of the invasion. As a troubadour, Bertrand can travel without suspicion from castle to castle, passing word about the coming danger. In the meantime Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertrand, leaves her comfortable home and family and becomes a troubadour herself. Danger encircles them ...

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A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th century Southern France. As crusaders sweep through the country, destroying all those who do not follow their religion, Bertrand risks his life to warn others of the invasion. As a troubadour, Bertrand can travel without suspicion from castle to castle, passing word about the coming danger. In the meantime Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertrand, leaves her comfortable home and family and becomes a troubadour herself. Danger encircles them both, as the rising tide of bloodshed threatens the fabric of the society in which they live.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jennifer Miskec
Early in the thirteenth century, young Elinore, a nobleman's daughter, is bound by caste and gender to marry by her mid-teens a person her father chooses as suitable. When she is promised to a much older widower, Elinore realizes that her options are to either marry this man whom she finds repulsive or join the convent—unless she can come up with another plan, which, of course, Elinore does. Posing as a male troubadour, Elinore—now known as Esteve—is without protection in increasingly volatile times. Her troupe of activist Believers (Cathars), led by the handsome and charming Bertran, work to warn others like them of Pope Innocent III's campaigns against heretics, putting Elinore in grave danger that is further heightened by her maturing female body. As Elinore moves from role to role, she learns about religion, politics, and the cruelties of people and power, as well as the importance of love and friendship. There is something to be said for a piece of fiction so dedicated to historical detail and accuracy, for which this book will surely find an audience. The typical teen reader, however, even those who enjoy historical fiction, might find it a bit daunting and somewhat dense. Despite how interesting the historical moment and how respectable Hoffman's project, this reviewer just does not see the novel reaching many young readers. Reviewer: Jennifer Miskec
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
A medieval troubadour's life was not all pretty songs and winsome ladies. These poet-songwriters had to deal with the danger and political shifts of their time, as Elinor, a 13-year-old noblewoman, discovers. As the novel opens, the creative girl finds herself pushed toward marriage with a much older man because, as her mother puts it, "you cannot turn your skills with parchment and quills into land and rents." Determined to make her own way, Einor escapes her parents' home and, disguised as a boyish troubadour, journeys from castle to castle. Author Mary Hoffman brings alive the intrigue of thirteenth century Southern France, with its warring lords and religious factions. And she brings readers into the mindset of a spirited girl who wrestles with difficult choices, including the love she feels for a fellow troubadour and a growing attraction to a stalwart knight. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Thirteen-year-old Elinor de Sévignan, with her dark hair, brown complexion, and disdain for dancing, struggles to behave as a donzela, the daughter of a lord. When she learns that her father has promised her in marriage to a man she doesn't love, she escapes the castle disguised as a joglar, a young minstrel, and travels with a troubadour throughout the holdings of southeastern France. Even as Elinor lives with new freedom, powerful men plot a crusade against the Cathars, men and women of the region whose beliefs differ from those prescribed by the Catholic Church; war unfolds and thousands die. While Troubadour overflows with rich historical detail of 13th-century France, Hoffman's characterizations and plot depend most on statement rather than description. Though some readers will be drawn to the story, many will be left wishing for less plot and more detail, less period history and more emotional texture.—Bethany Isaacson, Wheaton Regional Library, Silver Spring, MD
Kirkus Reviews
Intertwining narratives of the 13th century add up to less than the sum of their parts. Elinor, gawky daughter of Occitanian lord, nurses a crush on the much older troubadour Bertran; horrified at the prospect of expedient marriage, she runs away disguised as boy joglar. Bertran, meanwhile, carries a dangerous secret; himself a "heretic" Believer, he has witnessed the murder of the Pope's legate and must carry warnings of impending war to the sympathetic nobles of southern France. As Elinor gradually matures from self-centered pubescent to a self-assured poet, patroness and wife, her tale alternates with Bertran's perspective on the brutal Albigensian Crusade. This second story is far more compelling, with its serpentine politics and naked ambition masked by piety on every side, but it suffers from a confusing overload of names and places and battles. While Elinor's adventures are more straightforward, she tends only to react to the choices of her companions and the rush of events. The plots finally intersect, but with less of a climax than a dispirited sputter. Serviceable, but it could have been so much more. (Historical fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599907703
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Mary Hoffman is an acclaimed children's writer and critic. She is the author of the bestselling picture book Amazing Grace. Her Stravaganza sequence for Bloomsbury is so popular it has 80 current stories on Her previous books for Bloomsbury also include: The Falconer's Knot (shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Award and winner of the French Prix Polar Jeunesse 2009), Troubadour (nominated for the 2010 Carnegie Medal) and most recently David, a rich and epic tale based upon the creation of Michaelangelo's renowned statue of David. Mary lives with her husband in West Oxfordshire. To follow Mary's thoughts on books and writing, go to
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Interesting Read!

    Troubadour is an interesting book, that readers of most genres should enjoy. It is written fairly simply, in the sense that it is an easy book to read. The vocabulary isn't particularly difficult, and any period terms are generally explained in the prose (with a handy glossary at the back in case you forget). In fact there was only one problem that I had with the historical aspects if the book, and that was the definition of France. In my mind, France is as it is defined now. But according to the map in the book, the south of France was a region known as Occitania. Now this in itself isn't a problem, but it would have been nice to have known this at the BEGINNING of the book. Consequently, "the French were attacking" confused me, given that I was under the impression it was a civil war. But other than this slight confusion, I found myself enjoying learning history while reading a novel. Of course it's not perfectly accurate, it's fiction, but it was an interesting experience, that I'd be happy to repeat. In fact, I really loved the first two parts (of three). The third part however, feels rushed, sometimes unrealistic and somehow wrong. Obviously the war had to be won by the historical victor, but the fictional main character's end-story seems to disregard many of the threads that began the book, particularly what I would consider the main one, the love interest. But before this final part, the feelings and emotions of the two main characters, Elinor and Bertran, are acutely described, and they seem to be very real people. So while this book isn't in my normal reading genre, it has left an impression in my mind that perhaps I should read more historical fiction. The plot weakened towards the end, which was disappointing, but the first two parts, in my mind, more than made up for that. If you can't stand a book with a weak ending, this probably isn't for you, but if you read to appreciate a good writer, then buy/borrow/steal* this book as soon as possible. *Do NOT steal the book, that was a joke.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2013

    A good read!

    A good book, but it tends to get a little slow at times.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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