Monday, March 22, 2010

Adam of the Road

Adam of the Road has been the most enlightening book we've read of life in the Middle Ages. It includes old Roman roads, buildings made of Roman bricks, bits of Latin and linguistic history, contemporary superstitions, architecture, fashion, falconry, etc. We catch a glimpse of the drama surrounding the Magna Carta (signed 79 years prior to this story telling) and the first Parliament convened with common folk. Although it is woven through with all aspects of English culture in 1294, it is largely the adventurous coming of age story for a young minstrel named Adam who is guided by his strong sense of identity, his love for his father and his devotion to his dog, Nick. While showing the grit and struggle of the Middle Ages, Adam of the Road also reveals generosity, humor and humanity. I've never seen the Medieval life this way before.

Below are a few of our favorite quotes. We got too interested in reading to stop and write down each one, but we did pause to listen to the bells of St. Paul's Cathedral on youtube after reading Adam's description of them.
"A road's a kind of holy thing," Roger went on. "that's why it's a good work to keep a road in repair, like giving alms to the poor or tending the sick. It's open to the sun and wind and rain. It brings all kinds of people and all parts of England together. And it's home to a minstrel, even though he may happen to be sleeping in a castle."

Adam gave her two of his remaining comfits-- a poor widow in a village wouldn't taste such sweetmeats once in a year's time -- and a silver penny. She gave him a cabbage leaf full of strawberries that she had found for him. It was easier to say goodby when you had something to give. (50)

Adam threw back his head too and laughed, strangely eased of his pain. For the first time in his life he had played the part of an oyster. He had taken the bit of grit that was scratching him and made something of it that was comfortable to him and pleasing to someone outside. He had made a valuable discovery, but he did not know it at the moment, he only knew that he felt happy again, and he wagged his head a little. (63)

Green apples ripen in time. (65)

Adam felt as though all his powers of seeing and feeling and wondering had been stretched almost to the snapping point. (66)

They had a great deal of tiresome practicing to do, the same exercises over and over again, with very little praise to sweeten it and even less sympathy when they got tired. (78)

Adam started to say, "But I couldn't sing to it; it takes all my breath to blow, " but he bit the words off short. He saw too plainly in the miller's broad honest face the struggle between the pain of sacrifice and the joy of giving. (301-302)

1 comment:

SumGreater said...

I'm really excited to read this book next year when we do Middle Ages. Thanks for tellings us about it!