Friday, 17 March 2017

Tilt by Mary Hoffman

review by Maryom

Netta is the last of a long family of master stonemasons and sculptors, but, despite the craft running in her blood, she isn't allowed to be involved - because she's a girl! Her father Giovanni has recently been appointed Head Mason of Santa Maria Maggiore in Pisa, in charge of all the buildings and monuments being constructed, and with a special task - to find out why the bell-tower leans and to fix it. Seeing it everyday as she goes about her domestic chores, Netta feels she has an instinctive understanding of the famous tower's problems and could help her father, if only she could be involved, instead of having to spend her days cooking and cleaning. 

Set at the end of the thirteenth century, Tilt is the story of a very famous tower, and of a girl who's not content with the traditionally acceptable female roles of housework and child-rearing. Instead she's determined to live a fuller, creative life, to be a part of her family's tradition of working with stone, to have a part, no matter how small, in the building projects going on in Pisa, and just perhaps to be able to help solve the Leaning Tower's problems. 
Everyone has probably heard of Pisa's famous tower but I have to admit I didn't know the history behind its construction or the reasons for its 'tilt', or that marble had to 'stand' before use, so I've learned something in the course of good read, even if it's really intended for a much younger readership!
There's a modern relevancy too, as female stereotypes still need to be challenged. No one should ever believe that girls are limited to certain careers or life choices; they're equally capable of being architects, sculptors, or engineers. 
Don't worry though,Mary Hoffman isn't aiming to lecture the reader on history or feminism, but to tell an engaging story of one girl's desire to do something more fulfilling with her life. It's filled with the noise of hammering, stone dust floating in the air and a feeling of Netta and her family being part of something important happening - the construction of buildings which today are historical monuments but were once no more than an architect's drawings.

As always with books from Barrington Stoke, Tilt is printed on cream paper, rather than harsh white, and in a font chosen as suitable for dyslexic readers

Publisher - Barrington Stoke
Genre - 12+ historical fiction, feminism, 

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