Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How the Hangman Lost His Heart

Review by entling no. 2

I am currently rediscovering the joy of reading. During my first semester of grad school, I didn't have time to truly read. Oh, I always had a book with me, to read before class, during breaks, or while consuming a meal. But these books were old friends, worn and battered from years of jostling in backpacks and purses.

During a recent visit home, I viewed, with alarm, the precariously teetering stacks and piles of books that have taken over several square feet of my mother’s bedroom. I offered to take several of the books that overflow our house.

How the Hangman Lost His Heart by K. M. Grant, Walker Books , 2007

is a book I have known about for some time. Last year, the entmother shared a book talk Grant did in England. Grant's humor was brilliant and the story of poor Uncle Frank's head, hilarious.

The story is set in the mid 18th century. Grant easily weaves the traditions and habits of the time with an engaging story that will grab a reader of any age. Alice, our heroine, is no blushing maid, nor is she a steely eyed shield-maiden. Alice is simply a young girl who wants to bury her beloved Uncle Frank's head with his body.

Poor Uncle Frank was executed for being a traitor to the King. The story opens with the execution, and treats the moments with as much good taste as possible. Alice, after meeting with her highly eccentric Aunt Ursula and rather dotty grandmother Lady Widdrington, goes to rescue her Uncle's head from the Temple Bar. The subsequent rescue and flight embroil Dan Skinslicker, the executioner, and Cpt. Hew Ffrench, a soldier originally tasked with arresting Alice.

This story was a joy to read while I sat out on a patio on campus during lunch. The lighthearted humor was an excellent distraction from a day that was, overall, not quite right.


tanita✿davis said...

I love the cover to this one -- the UK version is different, but I think I like this one the best.

And it's a crazed, completely insane, thoroughly perfect story.

Gail Gauthier said...

I thought this was an absolutely wonderful book. Darn close to "thoroughly perfect," as Tanita said.

Elena said...

It's nice to know I'm not the only one rediscovering reading. I got burned out my last semester of undergrad - reading 25 intense books for three classes will do that to you! Five months later I am just now starting to branch out from old, well worn favorite to undiscovered lit. Thanks for reminding me about all the great works still to be discovered!

Rawley said...

I love stories about missing heads and dotty grandmothers! Do you think it would be too advanced for 4th graders?