Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Singing Tree, by Kate Seredy

This is an interesting book for me to read, since I didn't read The Good Master, but Sue was unable to borrow a copy locally, and I was!  So unfortunately, I'm not sure which of the characters in this book (except the obvious ones) were in the original.  But we can work with that; the book was still worth reading!

Jancsi and Kate are still living happily on their farm in rural Hungary.  We are introduced, through them, to beloved friends in the town, as well as local customs which mark the time and preserve their culture.  Jancsi is now twelve years old, and has become quite a horseman.  His talent is such that his father has decided to give him his own small herd to train and manage.  Jancsi is also becoming increasingly responsible for manual labor on the farm, while Kate has taken on additional tasks as well.  Unfortunately, this added responsibility quickly becomes no less than mandatory.  When the Archduke of Austria is shot in Serbia, Hungary, as part of the Austrian empire, finds itself at war and its men drafted into the military.

Because much of the plot of the book hinges on what happens during the war, I'm going to have to be light on details and not spoil it.  Suffice it to say that the little country farm becomes quite a haven and the little family expands exponentially (even to include a number of Russian prisoners who were assigned to help on the farm, who soon become dear friends).

It's surprising how much time passes over the course of the book- the author has a way of throwing things in so matter-of-factly that you almost don't register that she's boiled several years into several sentences, and introduced several other characters while she's at it!  And from Sue's review, the tone is very much the same as in the previous volume.  A very good read (especially now, when we're really not taught beans about the first World War).

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