- Title: Gabriel and the Hour Book
- Author: Evaleen Stein
- Publisher: L. C. Page and Company, 1906. Please note, that this book is now out of print and was reviewed from the Project Gutenberg site.
- Genre: Fiction
- Number of Pages: 192
- Theme: Book illuminating in Normandy in the 1500’s.
- Age Range: 8 and up
- Links: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/27916 ; for a hard copy go to http://www.yesterdaysclassics.com/catalog/displaytitle.php?author=stein&book=hour&catalog=history
St. Martin’s Abbey is commissioned by King Louis XII to create an illuminated hour book as a wedding gift for his bride to be, Lady Anne of Bretagne. A young peasant lad, Gabriel Viaud, is delighted to find himself the color-grinder assigned to Brother Stephen, the monk in charge of the illuminating. Gabriel grows to love the kind monk, who passes on to him not only the knowledge necessary for the writing and illuminating of books, but also the education he had received at the Abbey, an unheard of chance for a peasant boy in Normandy in the 16th century. The happiness of the two friends is dimmed when Gabriel’s father is imprisoned for his inability to raise the funds to pay his taxes. The hour book itself brings an answer to Gabriel’s troubles.
This is a wonderful classic to use during the study of medieval times. Although the book focuses on the illuminating of the hour book, it gives delightful picture of medieval times, including the contrast between peasant and lord, monastery life, the feudal system, and a small glimpse of King Louis himself. It is recommended as appropriate for 8 and up, but would make a great read aloud for the entire family. It is our opinion that children up to even 12 would benefit from reading it with a parent as this would allow a discussion of some of the practices from that time period that are certainly different from our culture today.
SAW Rating System
Good Qualities – 3/5
Great Qualities -4 /5
- Romance and morality—No issues
- Disturbing content—A monk is chained to a table leg to ensure he does not run away, a incensed lord threatens his messenger with strangling.
- Language—No issues
- Alcohol and drug use—No issues.
- Spiritual content—The book contains references to monastery life, including the taking of vows, the “telling of his beads”, and a strict Abbot. There is also a reference to the Christ-child delivering apples and nuts to the children’s shoes on Christmas eve. Prayer is made, waited on and finally answered.
- Family roles and Behavior—No issues.
- Mature subject matter—No issues
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