Belle is the daughter of a bellmaker. When her father suffers a terrible injury that Belle believes is her fault, she decides to join a group of pilgrims - led by Chaucer - who are heading for Canterbury. She is praying for a miracle: that her father will be able to walk again. The journey is not a simple one - Belle is blackmailed by the summoner to spy on Chaucer, who is believed to be taking a message for the King of France, and she is gradually drawn into a web of lies and political intrigue. Add to this her growing attraction for Luke and Walter, two very different young man on the pilgrimage, and Belle faces some difficult decisions.
Belle's Song is a relatively slight little book, and Grant tries to pack so much into the story that I think this novel suffers. I enjoyed all the separate elements: the exploration of the characters on the pilgrimage; the political issues involving the King of England; and the beautiful love story between Belle and Luke - but I thought that any of of these three could have easily been a book in itself, so Belle's Song felt constantly rushed.
The main characters were all very enjoyable to read about. Belle is impulsive yet fragile, confident but not at the same time. Her lustrous red hair and vivid imagination are just small facets of the three dimensional character we're shown. She has the motivations of a girl - dreams of courtly love - and also the duty of a daughter - hoping for her father's recovery. Add into this an element of self-harm which was handled sensitively, and Belle is a very intriguing central character.
Luke and Walter are both suitable matches for our girl Belle - and I loved the dark secret that Walter is carrying. It made for the perfect love triangle.
The burgeoning relationship between these three young characters is definitely the best part of the novel. I also enjoyed identifying the characters from Chaucer's Tale, and I fervently hope that some readers of this book will feel encouraged to go back to the source material. I really appreciate the fact that Grant has used such a vital piece of English storytelling as a jumping off point for this novel.
The only part of the novel that I found very difficult to swallow was the ease by which Belle came face to face with the King, and was able to tell hiim what he should do - considering my medieval reading, this was a little too far-fetched. It served the plot, but caused me to scoff. However, I doubt that this will affect the reading pleasure of many!
Belle's Song is a very sweet little book, with a beautiful cover, and a wonderful love story. I think it would be well worth your time picking up.