Also known as Nicholas and the Wool Pack or The Merchant's Mark
Like Ransome, Cynthia Harnett won the Carnegie Medal for this book. Also like Ransome, Harnett as an author tends to use her books to give information, in her case about historical life rather than sailing or camping. The story is set in the 1490s during the reign of Henry VII. Nicholas Fetterlock is the 12 year old son of a wealthy wool merchant living in the town of Burford in the Cotswolds. The book is a good introduction to life in early Tudor times where things are not always the same as they are nowadays, for example, Nicholas has an arranged betrothal to the young daughter of one of his father's business associates.
Nicholas is taken to the port of Southampton to meet his betrothed, Cicely. and finds that luckily they seem very compatible. The main plot deals with Nicholas father being suspected of the smuggling of wool from England to Europe. If he is found guilty, then he would lose his livelihood and be punished by the Merchant's guild, The Staple. Nicholas, Cicely and a shepherd boy friend uncover the real villains and prove that Master Fetterlock is not the wool smuggler.
The book is illustrated with a number of line drawings by the author. The historical knowledge is quite well passed on not too obviously set out as instruction for the reader and the story would be very good for a young person, especially if they have an interest in history and how life was lived just over 500 years ago in England.
Reviewed by Adam Quinan, December 2019.
This article is ©2018 by Adam Quinan, and posted on All Things
Ransome with permission.
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