‘With Face Aflame’ by A.E. Walnofer is a historical fiction novel set in 1861 England. A novel that is about something that is as relevant now as it was in the time this book is set.
Born with a red mark emblazoned across her face, seventeen-year-old Madge is lonely as she spends her days serving guests and cleaning rooms in the inn her father keeps.
One day, she meets an unusual minstrel in the marketplace. Moved by the beauty of his song and the odd shape of his body, she realizes she has made her first friend. But he must go on to the next town, leaving her behind. Soon after, while she is singing in the woods, she is startled by a chance meeting with a stranger there. Though the encounter leaves her horribly embarrassed, it proves she need not remain unnoticed and alone forever.
However, this new hope is shattered when she overhears a few quiet words that weren’t intended for her ears. Heartbroken and confused, she flees her home to join the minstrel and his companion, a crass juggler. As they travel earning their daily bread, Madge secretly seeks to rid herself of the mark upon her cheek, convinced that nothing else can heal her heart.
Set in England in 1681, With Face Aflame is the tale of a girl who risks everything in hopes of becoming the person she desperately wants to be.
A story that highlights how people are treated who are different, in appearance to others. Madge has a strawberry birthmark that covers the majority of her face, this alone should not alter peoples perception of her but as we know it has the power too. She is not alone in having differences, other characters also have them in different ways. The telling of this tale shows that they are all people who are just as worthy of love and respect as someone who has nothing to make them stand out.
We are with Madge as she sets out on a journey that will bring changes for her and make her grow up, rather a coming of age tale also. The story is told from Madge so we are privy to her inner thoughts and that helps us get to know Madge. I was as worried as her with her decisions as I felt like I was with her. The characters she meets on the way help her in her discovering who she actually is.
This is a book that I feel everyone should read, if only to make them realise the impact of words upon others. A beautifully, well-written story that shows us it isn’t what is on the outside that matters…it is about the inside and finally, to not judge a book by its cover alone.
Thanks to ZooLoo’s Book Tours and A.E Walnofer for the copy of the book.