Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘lady-jane-grey’

Young Reviewers: Michaela on Namesake

Posted on June 28th, 2013 by pajamapress

Namesake_CPajama Press has been given the wonderful opportunity of hosting a series of reviews written by the very people we work so hard for: kids and teens! Today our reviewer is Michaela from Trillium Woods E.S., and the book is Namesake by Sue MacLeod.

Hey, I am Michaela, I am a grade 8 student from Trillium Woods E.S. I have been given the opportunity to read the book Namesake by Sue Macleod for this blog. This book is about a young teenager Jane Grey, who is living in Halifax with her dysfunctional mother. Ever since Jane’s dad passed away in a motorcycling accident, Jane’s mom has been acting more and more moody every day. Jane’s life starts to change when her history teacher introduces a new project to her. She has to research any interesting person from history, She decides to research Lady Jane Grey, who ruled Tudor England for 9 days. Jane is writing her history paper when she finds the Book Of Prayre, Lady Jane’s prayer book, mixed in with her library books. She reads a passage out loud and is suddenly in 16th Century England. She meets Lady Jane Grey, and the two of them form a true friendship. Jane finds herself returning into the past continuosly, she is trying to forget her own problems. As Jane gets more enveloped in the past, can she fix both her own problems as well as Lady Jane Grey’s? I thought this was a well written book, and the author successfully made us understand the language that they spoke back in the 16th century. In the beginning, there were a few slow parts, but the end is amazing! Overall it was a very enjoyable book, and you will have to read this book to find out yourself!

Thank you, Michaela, for your review!

Namesake earns four stars from CM Magazine

Posted on June 21st, 2013 by pajamapress

“…In every way, this novel is a triumph. MacLeod deftly weaves the modern Jane’s contemporary story with the true-life tale of Lady Jane Grey. Both storylines are fully developed and vividly rendered, with the time-travel element simply and elegantly incorporated into the fabric of Jane’s present-day life. In so doing, the author expertly brings the history to life for her readers while concurrently crafting a poignant tale of a modern teen’s efforts to navigate the hardships of both high school and a troubled home life…Highly Recommended.
Lisa Doucet

Click here to read the full review

School Libraries in Canada interviews Sue MacLeod

Posted on June 6th, 2013 by pajamapress

In their current issue, School Libraries in Canada is exploring bringing the past into the future. How fitting, then, to interview Sue MacLeod, author of the time slip novel Namesake in which a library book does just that.

MacLeod explains how she came to write Namesake:

“It was actually Lady Jane Grey herself who compelled me. I read a book about her when I was ten or so, and she stayed with me. It occurred to me a long time ago – twenty years or more – that I wanted to write about her in a way that would link her story with that of a contemporary girl. So, a young adult time-slip novel emerged as a natural way to approach that.”

Click here to read the full interview.

Interview with Sue MacLeod

Posted on April 26th, 2013 by pajamapress

S.MacLeodSue MacLeod is a poet and editor living in Toronto, Ontario. Her debut novel, Namesake, is a time slip title for teens about the friendship between Jane Grey, a high school student in Halifax, and Lady Jane Grey, the short-lived Tudor queen who spent her last days in the Tower of London.

Sue joined us to talk about poetry, prose, and the magic of characters.

 You are already established as a poet, and in fact were the inaugural poet laureate in Halifax. Did you always want to write a novel as well? Where did that urge come from?

I’m not sure about the word “established,” although I did write poetry first. For me, it hinges on the subject. A subject will compel me and will seem to call for one form or another—poem, short story, or novel.

Did you find the switch to prose challenging? Exciting? Surprising in any way?

Yes, all of the above. The amazing thing is the characters—they do become real, just as I’d heard other fiction writers say. It sounds like magic, and is. But I think it’s also a writer’s reward for Sitting There … and Sitting There.

But then you have cause for worry. What if you abandon your characters for weeks or months? (As I, for one, have often needed to.) They fade, and you have to resuscitate them. You can only hope they’ll come back to life.

Why Namesake? Why Lady Jane Grey?

As a child I read a historical novel about Lady Jane Grey, and it stayed with me. Years later I decided to write about her—not just as a victim, but also as someone courageous, strong and full of life. And I wanted to write about a contemporary girl who was those things too.

What interested me most was creating the two stories—contemporary Jane’s and Lady Jane Grey’s—and intertwining them. I had to build links between the two girls, links of emotion and sensibility that would connect them despite the “culture gap” of being from different times.

I’d read about Jane when I was ten or so, but by the time I started writing, it was a teen story in my mind. She was a teen—executed not long after her 16th birthday.

I also knew, looking back, that I’d had a romantic vision of Jane Grey in my own teens, partly because I was drawn to victimhood—I identified with it somehow. That draw isn’t unique to me, I’m sure, and may be common among girls, for a whole mix of cultural and personal reasons. I wanted to write through that, to come out on the other side.

What did you enjoy the most about doing research for Namesake?

I loved learning more about how people talked—colourfully, dramatically, often in full sentences that were long and complex.

But best of all was a week I spent in London one July, visiting the British Library almost every day. I sat in quiet rooms at smooth, dark tables, reading biographies and Lady Jane Grey’s letters and other writings, and holding 16th-Century books in my hands.

Finest of all, still at the British Library, was seeing Lady Jane Grey’s prayer book. It was in a glass display case (I’m not sure anyone gets to touch it). But seeing it in person is still much different than online—its compactness, its beauty.

Namesake’s modern-day sections take place in Halifax. Can you talk about your connection to that city?

I moved to the Halifax area with my parents when I was 14, and lived in Halifax for many years.

Lots of the places in Namesake are ones I know well. I used to work at the library on Spring Garden Road; I walked our dog across the Commons, and up Needham Hill. We lived in a Hydrostone house when my daughter was a baby.

What is writing like for you? Do you love the process—or the result?

I love them both, but find the process hard. I’ve heard that there are people for whom the words flow easily. I am not one of them.

On a good day a problem gets solved, a scene takes on a nice shape, or a character says something that moves things to a new dimension. These are wonderful moments. Or I just feel—more generally—the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing my best to tell the particular story that only I can tell.

On a bad day, I figure anyone could write a novel if they were willing to work this insanely hard. (I suspect this may be true.)

I find the first draft the worst stage, because there’s so much chaos to deal with. It’s hard to sit there writing drivel and believe something will come of it. But first drafts do have their lovely moments too, with characters forming in broad strokes and plot lines starting to be traceable.

Do you have other novels in mind you’d like to get down on paper?

Yes, about five more. Right now I’m in the early stages of my next one—a teen love story set in present-day Toronto. There are political overtones. There are clashes of values within a family.

Debut novel Namesake earns starred Quill & Quire review

Posted on April 20th, 2013 by pajamapress

“In her debut novel, Sue MacLeod successfully accomplishes a feat many more experienced writers struggle with: weaving an historical narrative smoothly into a contemporary storyline. The Toronto author uses the tried-and-true device of time travel to bring together two very different girls who share the same name: Jane Grey.

Modern Jane is a 15-year-old Halifax girl trying to navigate the first few months of high school and a host of typical teen problems, which pale in comparison when she comes face-to-face with a girl whose life is about to come to an abrupt end.

A mysterious prayer book mixed in with a pile borrowed from the library for a school history project throws Jane through a wormhole into the world of her namesake, the doomed 16-year-old who ruled England for nine days in 1553 before her cousin Mary had her imprisoned in the Tower of London and eventually beheaded for treason.

As Jane learns about Lady Jane, both through writing her history project and her friendship with the tragic figure, the reader becomes informed as well, but the knowledge is imparted in a subtle, natural manner. Likewise, MacLeod drops tidbits of Halifax history into conversations and Jane’s descriptions of her hometown. Many books for young readers attempt similar tactics, but rarely are they executed this well.

With surprising clarity, MacLeod also captures the heightened sensitivity of teen interactions. The shifting allegiances and subsequent jealousies that define female friendships and the fickle, temporary nature of teen romance are presented realistically, without the taint of adult judgment.

The real accomplishment, however, is MacLeod’s treatment of Jane’s unpredictable relationship with her (mostly) functional alcoholic mother, Analise. Will it be a good day (“Single Mother as Hero”) or bad (“A Day When Hell Broke Loose”)? Analise is needy, yet takes little interest in her daughter’s life unless it suits her. And she is mean, with a vindictive streak that plays a major role in the book’s climax. Yet she can be loving, and despite Jane’s anger and resentment, ultimately the girl just wants her mother to get help.

It sounds like a lot of ground to cover in one slim volume, and it is, but with sensitivity and some well-placed humour, MacLeod pulls it off.”
Dory Cerny, Q&Q’s Books for Young People editor.