A few years ago, when I was rationalising ny book collection, I took the dramatic step of getting rid of my Elsie Oxenham books. I realised that I hadn’t read them for years and wasn’t likely to do so in the future (just wait, I’ll collect them up again one day!) However, I did keep a few titles and Mistress Nanciebel was one of them.
I’ve always have had a soft spot for it even though it’s set far too early in history and it’s not even my history! It’s set towards the end of the seventeenth century and features the Seymour family, English landowners and critics of the king. Their outspokenness causes them to be exiled. Sir John and his two older children, Gilbert and Nanciebel, along with the latter’s companion, Constancy, are sent to Wales under the guard of Captain Morgan. The book describes their adventures there.
I’ve never been quite sure what it is about the story that appeals to me. I think it’s probably the idea of adjusting to changed circumstances and making something out of nothing. It’s a little twee in places but the characters are well drawn and the landscape well defined. It’s also the book that gives the background to the contemporary (at the time they were written) Kentisbury set of books, probably my favourites.