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Writers Inspiring Change book review: Alina: A Song for the Telling, by Malve von Hassell

Updated: Mar 24



"A beautiful coming-of-age historical fiction."


Alina: A Song for the Telling, by Malve von Hassell, is a beautifully written coming-of-age historical fiction. Set in the 12th century, we follow the life of Alina, a young girl who wants nothing more than to follow her dream of becoming a troubadour, someone who puts lyrics to song, something her father encouraged her to do at a time when the expected norm for a woman her age was to seek out an advantageous husband and settle into her womanly duties. Alina is a new-age thinker. She wants to follow her heart and her dreams and so, with her brother, they set off on an adventurous journey to the Holy Land, Jerusalem. Along the way, Alina entertains people with her lute and musical skills and catches the attention of prominent people, eventually landing herself a spot in the court of the King. Well-written and historically intriguing, Alina is a story about a young girl breaking out of the mold of mediocrity, a coming-of-age. An inspiring story about youthful rebellion against the expected norms, reminiscent of Rebel without a Cause and Catcher in the Rye, more modern versions of the new generation rejecting the shackles of the old. I found the story captivating, like a warm summer breeze, a smooth and pleasurable read, rich with details that paint the ambience of life in the 12th century, and filled with intrigue. A highly recommended and enjoyable read.


International Writers Inspiring Change Reviewer



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About Malve von Hassell


Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph. D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published several books and journal articles, in particular, The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (Mill City Press, 2012), with a new edition published 2020, and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay, Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures (Two Harbors Press, 2012). The Falconer’s Apprentice (namelos editions, 2015) was her first historical fiction novel for young adults. Her most recent releases are Alina: A Song for the Telling (BHC Press, 2020), set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades, and The Amber Crane (Odyssey Books, 2021), set in Germany in 1645 and 1945. Currently, she is working on a biographical work about a woman coming of age in Nazi Germany.









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