Mistress Malapert, by Sally Watson (Old Favourites #3)

Mistress Malapert probably wasn’t the first work of historical fiction I read, but it was certainly the book that made me fall in love with the genre. It’s the story of the headstrong and selfish Valerie, who disguises herself as a boy and runs away from a harsh guardian in Elizabethan England. Valerie is taken in by a troup of travelling players; she joins the troup and (not surprisingly) turns out to be better at playing female roles than the thirteen-year-old boy who’s been playing them up to that point. She’s so talented, in fact, that she ends up getting hired by Shakespeare’s company and working with the master himself.

Before the story reaches its satisfying but poignant conclusion, Val has played (appropriately) Kate in Taming of the Shrew as well as Juliet, has learned to master her temper and discovered much about herself, and has fallen in love (with one of the players who managed to see through her cunning disguise). Re-reading this novel as an adult I can see numerous places where the story strains historical credibility, but I still think it’s a wonderful novel for young readers and a great introduction to the Elizabethan era.

Like a lot of my old favourites, Mistress Malapert is hard to come by these days, but I came across one company that’s made a business of reprinting novels for girls from bygone days, and they have not only this one but all Sally Watson’s books, which I think is just cool.



Filed under Children's, Fiction -- historical, Old Favourites

4 responses to “Mistress Malapert, by Sally Watson (Old Favourites #3)

  1. I loved Sally Watson’s books as a young girl, I think the book Jade stuck in my mind the most but it is fun to see that old books I loved as a kid others loved as well…I look forward to skimming through your blog to see what else you’ve read that you liked.

  2. Hi! I’m a huge fan of Sally Watson and recently created web site for her with info. on her older and current books. http://booksbysallywatson.com/index.html I’ve added your review here to the Info & FAQ page. I hope that is OK with you. Like you, I think it is very cool that some of her books are being re-printed and she is still writing! 🙂

  3. Ann Holt

    For years I searched for this book remembering the title but not the author. How wonderful that the Internet can lead us back to things we loved!

  4. Terry

    I think this the first book I read of hers. But I loved it so well that I read more of her books. In 2006 I went out to see her. She’s really a nice person and since my accident I’m collecting her books, all of them.

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