Being Magdalene
Fleur Beale

5/5 stars
By TIERNEY REARDON.

Being Magdalene is the sequel to Fleur Beale’s bestselling novels, I am not Esther and I am Rebecca. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books and so I was very eager to start my copy of the latest instalment. Like the previous books, Being Magdalene is written from the perspective of a member of the Pilgrim family. This time the narrator is Magdalene Pilgrim.

While in the first book she was only five years old, Magdalene is now twelve. It’s been four years since her older sister Rebecca ran away from her family’s religious community. The Elders of the Children of the Faith – especially Elder Stephen, the man Rebecca was supposed to marry – seem to be doing all they can to get revenge on the Pilgrims. To make things worse, Magdalene’s oldest brother Abraham doesn’t believe in the ‘rule’ they live by any more, and his great passion for engines and machines is causing a stir. Magdalene’s little sister Zillah is seven and is the most rebellious of all – it’s only a matter of time until Elder Stephen decides to target her next.

As the Pilgrim children begin to break free from the Elders’ rules, Zillah becomes more certain that they belong somewhere safe from the severe punishments their parents inflict upon them. Magdalene is conflicted, unsure if she can handle the shame of hurting her family even more. Her curiousity, intelligence and imagination are severely restrained by the rules of the Children of the Faith. Both girls have been denied a proper education – Zillah sneaks into so-called worldly schools to satisfy her desperate need to read about the outside world. As it becomes more dangerous at home, Magdalene must find the strength to protect both herself and her sister – and to pursue her freedom.

Being Magdalene is my favourite book in the series; the ending seemed to tie things off so perfectly. By the end of the book I found myself attached to so many of the characters that I was worried that they might not get the resolution they deserved. I recommend that you get yourself a copy; it’s thrilling, intriguing, and not a read to miss out on.

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