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[personal profile] bewize's post about some much-loved children's books put me in mind of two series of books I enjoyed when I was in ten or twelve. Thinking about them, I realized these are connected by the fact that both evoke a strong sense of place and history – in one case invented; in the other, based on reality – which I suspect is something I enjoy a lot in my reading. I think they were also appealing because the protagonists were that little bit older than me that I could aspire to be them.

The first book, by Jenny Overton, is Creed Country, a mix of slice-of-family-life and a kind of historical mystery/thriller set in the period around the English Reformation. Anglican vicar's son Stephen is transcribing a series of letters from the early sixteenth century between members of a prominent local family. He shares the secret with Sarah, the middle child in a large Catholic family newly moved to the area. The book does a nice job of exploring the impact of the English Reformation on individuals, and some fairly deep theological questions in the present day, and serves up some very vivid and memorable characters.

I could have sworn this was the first in a series of maybe two or three books – and that I borrowed the subsequent one(s) from the library – but I can find no evidence of the others online! I do remember liking them less, as the main protagonists and point of view characters were two of Sarah's younger sisters, who just weren't as interesting.

The other series is a little less obscure and seems to have had something of a revival of interest recently: Malcolm Saville's "Lone Pine" books. I haven't read all of the series, but I do remember very much enjoying the settings and how they were used to develop and drive the plucky-kid-detectives plots. The two books that I remember most clearly are "Seven White Gates", which introduced one of my favorite characters, Jenny Harman (probably the character I identified with most) and "The Gay Dolphin Adventure", which had terrific descriptions of Rye and the surrounding area.
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