Sunday, September 13, 2015


Authors A.L. Butcher and Diana Wicker offer up a novella filled with hope and meaning. This is a lovely tale about Eleanor, Duchess of Havenforth, whose husband has gone off to war . . . a war that has gone on far too long and has caused much destruction and taken a heavy toll among the living. But she does not rule in actuality, only in name: She is only a regent, and the Council has taken control of the government. Now the survivors and the refugees of this war flock to the gates of Havenforth, seeking food, shelter, work -- seeking even the smallest bit of sanctuary. But the Council has closed and locked the gates for the first time in years, and there is no more room in the city, especially for those who can't contribute something worthwhile to the "economy," some skill or trade or academic achievement. These refugees are women and children, the sick, and those too old to fight battles, and the Council will not take them in. These are people who are considered of no use. Havenforth is now guarded by mercenaries, hired by the Council to "guard" the citizens in the absence of men who have gone off to fight and die in war. The Duchess is moved by the plight of these refugees and is greatly angered by the actions and decisions of the Council. She therefore decides to go out among the refugees, to offer food, clothing, medicine, and even money to help them. With her she takes her Cousin Lynette, Alys the Chatelaine, and one Captain Gavin. With a wagonload of clothing and provisions, Eleanor and company manage to leave the city, and go out among the diseased, destitute, and dying refugees, helping where they can, gaining their trust and respect. The trio see firsthand the handiwork of war, the price of war, and witness the effects of wounds and illness. They also witness acts of kindness by people whom the city has shunned . . . and what Eleanor finds among those people, the lesson in humanity she learns from people who have been turned away because they have nothing to offer, nothing to contribute, is at the heart of this interesting little story. This is a tale that mirrors what has happened in our world in the past, and what is happening even now, in so many countries. This is a tale of love, courage, devotion, and hope.