When her father, Robert the Bruce, is crowned King of Scotland, 11-year-old Marjorie becomes a princess – a title that brings attention and danger from the outset.
As the Scottish king’s heir, Marjorie is an obvious target for the English monarch, Edward Longshanks. In this young adult novel, his forces capture her and seek to enrage her father by exhibiting her in a wooden cage at Lanercost Priory in Cumbria.
Fiercely loyal to her father and her country, Marjorie has no means to retaliate physically, so takes on her captor in a battle of wills – fighting to maintain her dignity despite taunts and humiliations. She relies on her faith and small kindnesses, but is tested when those who have helped her pay a price.
The action of the story takes place within the confines of Marjorie’s four paces square cage – punctuated with her memories of happier times with her father and step-mother. It’s a tiny setting that makes for plenty of tension.
Girl in a Cage is a powerful and atmospheric book that illuminates a dark time in Scotland’s past and celebrates the strength of the human spirit. It left me fascinated by a character I had previously known little about, and inspired to discover more about her.
Girl in a Cage, by Jane Yolen and Robert J Harris (Cranachan)