The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway #BookReview #RomCom #YA

Dumplin‘ meets Well Met in this novel about finding your place in the world, learning love is a risk worth taking, and discovering what happens when you take your fate into your own hands.

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 favorite 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.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for a free digital copy of this book to read and review.


What’s it about (in a nutshell):

The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher is Madeline Hathaway’s story about the summer one year after her mother passed away and how she worked through her grief with the help of some wise adults and a group of new friends.

My Reading Experience:

At first, I was skeptical about how much I would enjoy this book. Maddy is so well-mired in her grief that, though I felt sorry for her, I found it hard to relate to her on a reader-to-character level. But she shows enough growth as the story continues that I grew to care about her and understand her choices, even when I disagreed with them. I’ve worked with many teens going through grief, and I felt the authenticity of her character development even though it initially bogged down my reading.

I love the setting – a Renaissance Fair in Oklahoma – part of the Renaissance Fair circuit Maddy and her parents had worked for many years. It brought a fun element to a story full of the emotions Maddy and her father struggled with. I especially loved that the fair had new owners who changed enough about the setup that it threw Maddy off and made her begin working through her grief.

What makes this story utterly charming, though, are the characters. Arthur, the boy who renamed Maddy – Gwen for Guinevere – is quirky and has the biggest heart. He is genuine in his kindness and understanding of all Maddy is going through. And Arthur’s two dads were my favorite. If they were real, I’d ask them to adopt me. They are just the essence of adults who have it all together. Arthur reflects that in his ability to understand Maddy’s grief and body image issues – as she is curvier than she would like to be.

This story is more about working through grief than romance, but I loved how Maddy and Arthur became friends first and then became more. It felt authentic and genuine, melting my heart in the process. The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway is the perfect feel-good, heart-melting story for readers who need a book that will put a smile on their faces and a glow in their hearts.

27 Replies to “The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway #BookReview #RomCom #YA”

  1. I’ve been waiting for your thoughts on this! I’m in total agreement with Arthur’s dads. Lovely review.

    Liked by 1 person

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