The Unfortunate Son
by Constance Leeds
Viking, 2012. 302 pgs. Historical Fiction.
The Count de Muguet was a ruthless man, excited by the birth of his second son until he discovers the boy's defect--he has only one ear. Years later a young man, with one ear, named Luc meets a lovely young woman named Beatrice who has been taken in by her nurse Mattie after the death of her father and the abandonment of her mother. Luc himself seems ill-fitted to his family--a blonde son of a swarthy father and dark-favored brothers, he can never please his father and finally hires on with Pons, Beatrice's guardian, to learn the fisherman's trade. Luc brings luck to the family but is unlucky himself when he is captured by Saracen pirates and sold into slavery. Lucky again in his master, Luc learns medicine, astronomy, Arabic, and a thousand and one useful skills in Tunisia. But will he ever get back home to Mattie, Pons, and especially Beatrice? And will his loving friends ever see Luc again? or did he perish among the pirates? Sixteenth century France and Northern Africa are the twin settings of this rich, lovely, well-turned tale about faith, fortitude, honor, and, most of all love. The Unfortunate Son has received some mention as a possible Newbery contender, and is well-deserving of consideration.