Historical fiction at its best!

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

From the moment Aran sees Peter Abelard and his lover, Eloise, he wants nothing more than to surround himself with the couple's renowned beauty, intelligence, and eloquence, which seem to offer a path of hope away from his cruel and impoverished childhood. Aran is still mourning the recent death of his devoted mother, who had tought her mute son how to spin wool, as well as the art of listening. Now Aran, born tongue-tied, has been peddled to a merchant of human grotesqueries by his brutal older brother and is about to have his body forced into the shape of a human spider.

When Abelard, in need of a servant who will not talk of his affair with Eloise, rescues Aran from Master Galien, it seems that the boy's dream has come true. He is quickly given the name of Spider and accompanies the famous couple around France as they convront the various plights brought about by their overwhelming passion. During this time, he learns how to read, silently. Little by little, Spider becomes enmeshed in the lives of Abelard and Eloise, and his gifts of reading, spinning, and listening enable him to become the thread connecting the two people he worships most.

In this fictional account of the true story of Abelard and Heloise, the famous twelfth-century French lovers, Gloria Skurzynski has created a tale of patience and devotion, and of the beauty created from the space between silence and words.

"The scandalous history of the doomed 12th century lovers Abelard and Heloise forms the dramatic frame for a coming-of-age story that is also a meditation on servitude, the fragility of the human body, and the power of language..."
     Starred review from Publisher's Weekly

"Grand passion, terror, desire, comfort--it's all here, and much of it is actual history, in Skurzynski's spirited retelling of the story of Abelard and Eloise."
     Starred review from Kirkus Reviews

The story is complicated and compelling, full of drama, love and violence... Skurzynski is masterful in her characterizations, showing the subdeties of each person's nature and the ways in which they are changed by the circumstances of their lives."
     Starred review from School Library Journal

Throughout, Skurzynski's writing is vivid and intriguing. Unlike characters in some historical fiction, those here do not seem as though they are modern-day people plunked down in another era. She successfully paints a world very different from the one we know..."

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