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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Goldfarb, Sheldon: Remember, Remember

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

Sheldon Goldfarb's YA novel Remember, Remember opens with a charming scene: a class of Victorian-era school boys, one of them stumbling over a Latin conjugation, and their usually bearish teacher, Mr. Rawlins, so unwontedly distracted as not to have noticed that his pupil's recitation has trailed off before hitting the first person plural. Among the boys in the class squirming in discomfort is fourteen-year-old Aleister Lister Smith, a top student in the fourth form at Shrewsbury School. The reason for Mr. Rawlins's strange behavior soon becomes clear to Aleister when he overhears a conversation outside of his teacher's rooms: Rawlins's "impecunious brother-in-law," a Mr. Talbot, has shown up at the school with a crisis that threatens to bring scandal to the family. Meeting with no help from the imposing Rawlins, Talbot compounds his earlier transgressions--what landed him in trouble in the first place--by dragging Aleister back with him to Manchester on the off chance that the boy can be of some service. Thus Aleister's sheltered life is upended, and he becomes embroiled in an adventure that comes to involve spying, false arrest, private investigative work, and murder. Goldfarb's title is a reference to the children's rhyme about the would-be regicide Guy Fawkes--"Remember, remember the fifth of November..."--as actions central to the book's plot take place on that date.

Remember, Remember is a nicely written, quick read. It packs a compelling mystery and a pair of likeable teenaged protagonists: Talbot's daughter Kate flouts Victorian conventions by teaming up with Aleister to investigate the Guy Fawkes' Night murder; and Aleister himself, apt not to assert himself at the book's outset--indeed, arguably passive to a fault--is seen to grow in confidence as a result of the extraordinary events of his weeks in Manchester.

Any complaints I have about the book are minor: Aleister's dream sequences don't add anything, in my view, and he is too frequently described as tired: one begins to worry about his health. But these are minor quibbles. Goldfarb's target audience should certainly enjoy the book, but adults should consider it as well. It's a good read. I don't know whether the author intends to write a sequel to the story, but I for one would like to see a series of mysteries featuring Aleister as amateur sleuth. Surely the stately halls of Shrewsbury School are rife with crimes that need investigating?

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