My rating: 3 of 5 stars
One upon a time (grade 7/8 ish) Cynthia Voight was my favourite author. I stumbled across this book a few days ago by complete accident, and absolutely had to read it. Voight writing alternative-history/fantasy? Amazing.
It was an easy and enjoyable read. Not really fantasy, just a Medieval kingdom not necessary based on any fact – but no magic, dragons, or wizards.
I enjoyed reading about Gwyn. She’s just the kind of heroine I can get behind. She is independent, intelligent and hardworking. She is stubborn and opinionated. She is a dreamer and a bit of an idealist. She is well aware of the world around her and the problems those both more and less fortunate than her must deal with. She has a keen intuition into the personalities and motivations of those around her, for better or for worse. She does have her blind spots though, especially romantic ones – but really, don’t we all?
Gwyn must make a choice. She must marry, soon. Or she must announce that she does not intend to marry at all, a decision that is not reversible, and will leave her reliant on her brother to take care of her, with a lifetime of working at the family Inn ahead of her. She isn’t completely against marrying, but sees few if any attractive local prospects and fears being tied forever to the wrong man.
And of course there is Jackaroo – the title character – a Robin Hood like figure who helps the poor and downtrodden. But who is he? Does he even exist?
Voight has done a good job of presenting the realities of life in the middle ages, the romantic aspects for sure, but also the less galmourous details: the hard work, lack of freedom or spare time, even the walk to the privy in the cold and dark and dealing with menstruation before tampax and advil.
If I have any criticism, it’s that it was perhaps too light, too easy to read. A bit more depth, character development, and relationship development would have strengthened the story, but sometimes you just need a nice light read. I love a book that I can read in a day.