A charming tale about a dwarf who finds himself the friend of the Queen of England during the English Civil War. The queen is French and married to King Charles I - and for those of you who don't know, he ended up being beheaded.
The first part of the book runs like a lovely gentle Disney film. Sold by his father, the boy who didn't grow has to cope with bullying as well as the practicalities of not being able to do what boys of his age did, but he overcomes his obstacles and manages to make and win friends, including the queen. The second part of the story sees him as an adult and new challenges appear, as the civil war puts his life in danger and those of the King and Queen. This section is a little more gritty and exciting.
A story about friendship, resilience, being different and fitting in. Written in a clear and simple style, this book is easy to follow and is written in the first person. The historical aspect is fairly sound where it exists, with actual historical figures such as King Charles and Lord Newcastle (plus The Smallest Man is based on an actual character called Jeffery Hudson), but the manner of speech and some of the social norms when addressing people of social standing is far too modern. It does show the attitudes and superstitions towards dwarfs during the seventeenth century, however, which is interesting and expressed well.
This is a great adventure story set in the English Civil War, and I would be happy to see this made into a film, Disney or otherwise. Great stuff.
Published by Simon & Schuster UK on 1 February 2021.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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