Malve von Hassell
Alina: A Song For The Telling
(Middle Grade historical fiction)
August 27, 2020
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ALINA: A SONG FOR THE TELLING is the coming-of-age story of a young woman from Provence in the 12th century who travels to Jerusalem, where she is embroiled in political intrigue, theft, and murder, and finds her voice.
“You should be grateful, my girl. You have no dowry, and I am doing everything I can to get you settled. You are hardly any man’s dream.”
Alina’s brother Milos pulled his face into a perfect copy of Aunt Marci’s sour expression, primly pursing his mouth. He got her querulous tone just right. Maybe Alina’s aunt was right. She could not possibly hope to become a musician, a trobairitz—impoverished as she was and without the status of a good marriage. But Alina refuses to accept the life her aunt wants to impose on her.
At the first opportunity she and her brother embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to pray for their father’s soul and to escape from their aunt and uncle’s strictures. Their journey east takes them through the Byzantine Empire all the way to Jerusalem, where Alina is embroiled in political intrigue, theft, and murder.
Forced by a manipulative, powerful lord at court into acting as an informer, Alina tries to protect her wayward brother, while coming to terms with her attraction to a French knight.
Excerpt from Chapter 8 –
Making music on the road (497 words)
I played a few chords, and then Milos began to sing, softly
at first. Heads turned, and a few of the knights wandered over to listen to us.
Behold the lark
In the sun’s rays and
Swooping into the depths, borne down by the delight in its heart.
It makes me yearn to be one with all who have tasted happiness.
After the first few lines, I forgot
my discomfort. Milos and I had done together this so often that we didn’t even
need to look at each other for cues about when to increase or lower the volume
or when to slow down or to pause. For Milos,
it was just one of many facets of his being. He liked to perform, but he had
never hounded our father to teach him new songs.
it was so much more—not just a joy, but something
vital in a way I couldn’t explain. Maybe in part it was because I could control it when I couldn’t control
anything else. Perhaps it had been like that for our father as well. Of course he was a man, and nobody could force him into a
marriage or tell him how to act. So maybe it wasn’t the same. Anyway,
for me it was more than that.
When Milos finished, the last
drawn-out note echoing through the still evening air, I made a sign to him and
whispered, “Now it’s my turn. I’ll sing Ar
em al freg temps vengut.”
Milos shook his head. “But that’s
about winter, and it’s too long,” he whispered.
“We’ll do just a few verses,” I said
stubbornly. All afternoon I had watched the shifting light transform the desert
into a glowing purple void, the silvery green leaves of the scrubby desert
brush the only signposts reminding us of the ground beneath our feet. I had
kept thinking of the right music to convey all this splendor. Finally, I
remembered the song my father taught me by the
trobairitz Azalais de Porcairagues. Gently I strummed the strings and began.
Winter is upon us, and time stands still,
Trapped in ice and snow and mud.
All birds have fallen silent
(for none wants to raise her voice in song).
Milos picked up his flute and
followed my voice. The melody was sparse and severe, a song of immeasurable
sorrow, glorying in desolation. It was as if one could hear the high-pitched
whistling and groaning sounds from a frozen lake, echoing across the ice.
Now, with the heat of the day
drifting away into the darkness, the flute’s plaintive notes evoked the wind
sweeping over the sands. I kept my eyes on Milos as I sang. A hint of sadness
in his eyes reminded me of our father and his lost, hungry expression at the
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Malve von Hassell
is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator.
Working as an independent scholar,
she published The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City
(Bergin & Garvey 2002)
and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida
(Bergin & Garvey 1996).
She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944,
Der Kreis schließt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944
(Propylaen Verlag 1994).
She has self-published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy
(Mill City Press, 2012)
and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay,
Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures
(Two Harbors Press, 2012).
She has published The Falconer’s Apprentice
and Alina: A Song for the Telling
(BHC Press, 2020),
and has another forthcoming historical fiction novel, The Amber Crane
(Odyssey Press, 2020).
She is working on a biographical account of a woman coming of age in Germany during World War II.
Follow her on Facebook
, and BookHub
Visit her website
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Alina: A Song for the Telling is my first introduction to the talents of Malve von Hassell. I am a huge fan of historical fiction, especially during the Medieval time period. This one does not disappoint. I thought this was a pretty good read. I thought the author did a great job to detail the setting and the historical details. I loved getting to know Alina. She winds up getting caught up in some mystery and suspense, as well as, danger and adventure. This is not one of those stories that I would be able to predict. I liked it.
I am giving Alina: A Song for the Telling four stars. I would be interested in reading more by Malve von Hassell in the future. I recommend this one for readers who enjoy Medieval era historical fiction.
I received Alina: A Song for the Telling from the publisher. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion.
So glad you enjoyed this historical fiction. I didn't know you also loved the Middle Ages, that's also my favorite period, and I think her descriptions are really awesome. Emma at FBTReplyDelete