Heartwarming and Cozy | The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher

Friday, March 31, 2023

The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher

Wednesday Books
Publication Date: 3/14/23
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley/ from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you, 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.
  •  When I first found out about this book, I literally squealed! Books set at Renaissance Faires always seem to be the most magical, whimsical tales. Plus, to escape the world and visit a Ren Faire (whether in person or when reading a book, is always a fantastic time! 
  • The book opens upon Madeline who is struggling with the loss of her mother a year before. While it is mentioned in the synopsis, the depiction of Madeline's grief and her father's was a bit triggering for me. I haven't read another book with such a true and real depiction of the grieving experience since The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie. The exploration of grief in The Renaissance Of Gwen Hathaway was incredibly raw. However, the joy of friendship and the steady blossoming of change was a hopeful constant that gave the book an uplifting message.
  • I don't often cry while reading, but Ashley Schumacher's impeccable writing enchanted me to do so. I haven't read her other books, but I am looking forward to reading more from her now. 
  • The budding friendship between Madeline and Arthur is lovely to witness. The Ren Faire, of course, as a backdrop makes everything more magical.
  • The relationships are truly a star in this! While there is a focus on Madeline's grief, the support that she receives from the different relationships in her life are so heartwarming. I, especially, adore the relationship she has with Fatima, her best friend. Though they primarily communicate through online video calls, it always feels like they are both physically together with how much their banter and friendly chatter light up the page. 
  • I haven't been liking the YA contemporary books I have been reading lately. In fact, I was a little nervous to start this one, worried that I wouldn't like it. Before diving into this, I was also thinking that I should take a step back from YA contemporary but this book singlehandedly brought my faith back into the genre. The fantastic writing, well rounded characters, and sweet friendships shined in The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway in such a way that I haven't seen in other books in a while. Readers will surely fall in love with this book as quickly as I did.
The Renaissance Of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher was such a heartwarming story about friendship, grief and everything in between. It is one of those books that will no doubt be able to put a huge smile on your face. 

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