Thursday 29 January 2015

The Door in the Wall

The Door in the Wall is a short book by Marguerite de Angeli based in the Middle Ages. It won the Newberry Prize in 1949. The black and white illustrations are by the author.

The story is set in London and on the Welsh border. The town in Shropshire is fictional but it seemed, to me, to bear similarities to Ludlow. 

Robin, the hero of the story, is a 10 year old boy, left behind in London whilst his father goes to fight for the unnamed king, in Scotland and his mother has to go to be lady-in-waiting to the queen. Robin contracts an illness which means that his legs cease to function. Sadly, at the same time the plague is rife so Robin is left alone, in the house. Robin, himself, is told by the doctor that he does not have the plague. I wondered if he had contracted polio.

Robin is rescued by a monk, Brother Luke, to takes him to the monastery and cares for him. Brother Luke tells Robin to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it. As Robin gains strength, he learns new skills: reading and writing, woodwork and music. Robin realises that these hold the key to escaping the wall of his illness.

The time comes for Robin to travel to Shropshire to begin his knightly training. Kind supporters enable him to participate in as much as possible until the town is invaded by the marauding Welsh and the castle besieged. Robin is able to take an exciting part in events although telling too much would spoil the book!

This book is gives insight into life in the Middle Ages. It brings up issues of the plague and the role of the monastery. It does not go into detail about the politics of the time nor issues within the Medieval church. I plan to read it to my children, next year, to go with their history. I know that we will have plenty of discussion around the Welsh v England issue since I have a Welsh husband and the children are very attached to their Welsh heritage. 

The book has a happy ending although I did wonder about the real fate of a child who lost the use of his legs, at this time. 


I purchased this book for the use of my family. 

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1 comment:

  1. Looks like a good one - we've just done middle ages but will be sure to grab this one next time around .