The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher ~ 320 pages ~ published on March 14, 2023 by Wednesday Books
Since her mother’s death, Madeline “Gwen” Hathaway has been determined that nothing in her life will change ever again. That’s why she keeps extensive lists in journals, has had only one friend since childhood, and looks forward to the monotony of working the ren faire circuit with her father. Until she arrives at her mother’s favourite end-of-tour stop to find the faire is under new management and completely changed.
Meeting Arthur, the son of the new owners and an actual lute-playing bard, messes up Maddie’s plans even more. For some reason, he wants to be her friend – and ropes her into becoming Princess of the Faire. Now Maddie is overseeing a faire dramatically changed from what her mother loved and going on road trips vastly different from the routine she used to rely on. Worst of all, she’s kind of having fun.
Ashley Schumacher’s The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway is filled with a wise old magician who sells potion bottles, gallant knights who are afraid of horses and ride camels instead, kings with a fondness for theatrics, a lazy river castle moat with inflatable crocodile floaties, and a plus-sized heroine with a wide-open heart… if only she just admits it.
What I Thought:
*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for this ARC!*
I first read Ashley Schumacher last year, when I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the ARC for Full Flight (read my review for it here). After that, I knew she would be an auto-buy author for me. So, I was very excited when I received my ARC for The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway!
I love that there are so many books coming out about Renaissance Festivals. I love going to them, and getting to attend one through books when there isn’t one near me is a great way to fulfill my longing. This particular story is more on the bittersweet end of things, but I have found that I should expect no less from a Schumacher story.
Maddie was such a lovely character to follow through this story. She struggles greatly with anxiety, self-criticism, and depression. I could sympathize with her trying to work through the loss of her mother, especially at her mom’s favorite festival on the anniversary of her death. I really liked how she became more and more open to working through her feelings as the story progressed. Her feelings around letting anyone else into her heart were so sad, but completely understandable.
Arthur was such a precious little bean, and I just wanted to squeeze him. I loved how he was absolutely struggling with feelings of self-loathing, but he was still able to bring Maddie out of her protective shell. His persistence was charming, rather than annoying. I loved his sunshine-y little self.
This was a romance, but I was more moved by the journey of self-discovery and growth that Maddie went on. This was a case of falling for someone slowly, and a steady journey to healing. All in all, I thought this was a sweet story with some important themes surrounding grief, body image, and vulnerability.
I gave The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway 4 Stars!
Are you interested in learning more about this book? Check out the links below!
The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway on Goodreads
Purchase The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway on Amazon
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Are you a fan of books about Renaissance Festivals? What are your favorites? What about books having to do with loss? Have you read any other books by Ashley Schumacher? Let’s chat down in the comments!
Love and happy reading,