Grisly Grisell, by Charlotte Yonge
Publisher: Lepanto Press
Number of pages: 300
This captivating tale situated in 15th
century England is the story of a young girlís perseverance
and victory in virtue. The Wars of the Roses play an important
role in the plot of the story. The family of Grisell Dacre of
Whitburn is devoted to the white rose (House of York); while
the family of the man to whom she is betrothed supports the
red rose (House of Lancaster).
The author immediately captures the
readerís attention with a gunpowder accident that leaves the
young Grisell dramatically scarred for life. The culprit of
the accident is none other than her future husband, Leonard
Copeland. Finding sympathy in none but her benefactor, the
Countess of Salisbury, Grisell is placed in a convent in hope
of recovering at least her health. It is in this convent that
she meets Sister Avice, who sees to the healing of her wounds
and the education of her soul.
After the death of the Abbess, Grisell must
return to her dreary home in the North Country, where she
fears she will be hated by all. However, Sister Aviceís gentle
manner has taught Grisell "how not to be loathly in
the sight of those whom she could teach to love her."
At the height of the Wars of the Roses, Grisell is left
without family and must take her role as Lady of the castle.
The circumstances of war bring her once again in contact with
the boy she was to marry, Leonard Copeland. As the story
develops, Grisell becomes the valiant woman, who serves and
tends unselfishly to anotherís needs and brings the heart to
- The story encourages virtue, especially perseverance in
- It clearly portrays the various temperaments of man and
how oneís character is molded by the choices made in life.
- It is beautifully written with vivid images of the
English and Flemish countryside. The challenging vocabulary
provides a new dimension in the enjoyment of the story.
- Reference to familiar names and places entices the
reader to research both the history and geography of
The novel makes use of many historical
events; however, the Catholic teacher will make a few
- Pg. 58: "Öthe yoke (of the Pope) had been
shaken off during the Great Schism, no sooner had this been
healed than the former claims were revived, nay, redoubled,
and the pious Henry VI was not the man to resist them."
There were abuses of power on both the side of the Papacy
and the kings. The truth is that both were supposed to work
together and the Church was a restraint that kept the kings
from becoming tyrants.
- The character of the Queen seems a little exaggerated,
we hear her spoken only as the "Frenchwoman." It
seems normal that she would fight for the right of her son
to reign in succession to his father, Henry VI. For a good
treatment of Prince Edward of Lancasterís claim to the
throne, one can read with profit from the Glory of
Christendom by Warren H. Carroll, p. 576-8.
This is a great book to study with girls
since it gives them a beautiful example of true womanhood.
Students love the story and are always different (for the
better) after reading it. The ending is a little romantic, but
Teachers will find in this book a powerful
tool to help girls understand the beauty of their feminine