The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn

The Merrybegot

Written by Julie Hearn

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Gripping and lyrical, this is a multi-layered novel with a strong historical background of the witch hunting that took place during the English Civil War crossed with a story of the fairy world and the different kind of magic that is inherent in nature. Both are based on a confusion of half truths which are spun into greater certainties that can carry great risks and penalties. Nell, the child at the centre of it all, lives her life in fear and tells her story capturing the wonder and danger of it all.


The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn

In a remote west-country village, all is not as it seems. The minister's daughters have taken to their bed, howling and spitting pins. Rumours of bad magic and witchcraft are spreading fast, the piskies are whispering in the orchard and an ill wind is blowing. Nell, the cunning woman's granddaughter, finds the fingers of blame are all pointing towards her. With Matthew Hopkins, the Witch-Finder General, on his way, Nell is alone, trapped and in mortal danger. Who can she trust? Who will save her? In years to come, Patience Madden, the minister's youngest daughter, has a confession to make. A confession that shows another side to what happened to her sister, Grace, and to Nell, half a century before ...


Praise for The Merrybegot:

‘Superb.’ - The Times

‘This truly superb novel will have your heart racing, your hands sweating and your brain whirring. You must read it.’ - The Guardian

‘Powerful and intriguing, The Merrybegot bewitches and beguiles from first to last.’
- Celia Rees

‘Ingeniously structured, with compelling plot twists, it is engrossing and immediate; Hearn has the skill of a conjuror and her novel casts a spell.’ - Sunday Times

‘A gripping, atmospheric novel, which demands reading at one sitting. Five Stars.’
- Books for Keeps

‘Told in clear, vivid prose, and peopled with sympathetic characters, it is a huge leap forward for a talented new storyteller.’ - The Times

‘This tale is as fascinating and accessible as any Pullman novel or even J K Rowling’s Harry Potter.’ Western Morning News

‘A lively and brilliant work. This book leapt out at me. It startled me and then held my attention.’ Times Educational Supplement

‘Quite literally, an entrancing book, magical, funny, tragic, empathetic to the lives
of country people of the past, which always invites us to look not only at them
but at ourselves and our behaviour.’ Write Away!

About the Author

Julie Hearn

Julie Hearn was our Guest Editor in August 2011. Click here to see the books she selected.

Julie Hearn used to be a tabloid journalist but much prefers writing novels because she is less likely to be sued nowadays for making things up. After her daughter, Tilly, was born she began a degree in Education but switched to English after suffering a panic attack while attempting to teach maths to year six. She went on to complete a Masters Degree in Women's Studies at Oxford University, where an idea for her thesis became the inspiration for her first novel, Follow Me Down. Julie lives in Oxfordshire where she writes full time (most mornings anyway) in a pink and green office in her garden.

Julie Hearn Q&A:

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Ever since I can remember. When I was five I wrote stories about elves and rabbits on scraps of paper and sewed them up the middle to make little books. I wrote diaries too - pages and pages every day - and if nothing exciting had happened I made stuff up. My teenage diaries are shocking, but a pack of lies from start to finish.

I still wanted to write when I left school so I became a journalist. And that was great fun, for a long time, although when it came to making things up, there was only so far I could go!

Why did you decide to write children's books rather than books for adults?

I suppose I'd had enough of writing for adults - first as a journalist, then as a student of English and women's studies. I wanted to give my imagination free rein in a way that didn't have to be clever, or cynical, or have a great wodge of footnotes at the bottom of every page to explain things!

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Book Info


288 pages


Julie Hearn
More books by Julie Hearn

Author's Website


Oxford University Press

Publication date

4th August 2011




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