Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Ever After

Title: Merry Ever After
Author & Illustrator: Joe Lasker
ISBN: 0670472573, The Viking Press, 1976
Genre: KidLit, Social History
Rating: A

First Line: Anne was only ten years old when her father told her she would marry Gilbert, who was eleven.

This beautifully illustrated children's book is written by Joe Lasker, who also happens to be the illustrator. It is the story of two young European couples: Anne and Gilbert and Margaret and Simon, and how it came about that they married way back in the fifteenth century.

Anne was ten when her wealthy merchant father began looking for a suitable husband for her. With his wealth, he wanted to aim high. Eleven-year-old Gilbert's father was a nobleman who'd spent much of his fortune on equipping himself and his soldiers for war. The two fathers met and eventually came to terms over the dowry. Anne and Gilbert would be married when Anne turned fifteen.

Fourteen-year-old Margaret was a blacksmith's daughter. Simon, a year older, was already a plowman working with his father out in the fields. They all lived in the same small village, and although they had much less dowry to work with, both fathers made sure they were satisfied on all counts before their children were betrothed. Lasker then describes both marriages and their subsequent celebrations.

In his introduction, Lasker stated that, although there are differences between Medieval marriages and the ones of today, there are also many similarities because many wedding traditions date from that time. He uses simple, straightforward language to tell the story of the two young couples.

What makes this book so special, however, are the marvelous illustrations. They are vivid and detailed. The longer I looked at each one, the more I found to savor. (Usually there was more than one bit of sly artistic humor to chuckle over as well!) This is a book in which all ages can easily find something to enjoy.

[Source: My personal library.]


  1. The illustrations are fabulous and the book sounds like one I would have loved in my younger day.

  2. What a sweet sounding book including the illustration. I'd like to read this one with my oldest granddaughter. She has started to take an interest in the bigger picture of what it means to be a family. Looking at it from several centuries ago is a good idea. Good for the author.

  3. The illustrations are certainly appealing! Thank you for sharing this post.

  4. Kathy-- I'm still experiencing my younger days... or perhaps it's senility sneaking up on me.

    Margot-- I think it would be wonderful to read this with your granddaughter!

    Dorte-- You're welcome! I'll get back to reviewing crime fiction soon, I promise! :)

  5. Oh my, the artwork in the book is wonderful. I love it. I wonder if I can track this down.

  6. Beth-- I don't know. All I do know is that I made someone happy on PBS!


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