Themes: culture clash, idolatry, religion, romantic love
I remembered reading this book a long time ago when I was a kid of a girl, but I didn’t remember much about it. Reading it as an adult, I found it rather shocking. I can’t tell you exactly what I found shocking without spoiling the ending, but it wasn’t any of the usual trio: neither sex, language nor violence.
The Faraway Lurs tells the story of Heather, a girl of the Tree People, who falls in love with Wolf Stone, the son of the chieftain of the Sun People. Heather’s people live in the forest, use stone age tools, and worship at a tree that they call The Tree of Power. The Sun People worship the sun, make things of bronze, and have come to find the tree of power and cut it down to build a ship. After the introduction of this conflict, the rest of the book tells of how the Tree People defend their sacred tree and how Heather and Wolf Stone resolve their relationship in the face of the enmity between their tribes.
Unfortunately, if you read the introduction to the book you know that the idea for the story came from the preserved image of a girl called the Egtved Girl found buried near the village of Egtved in Denmark:
The Egtved Girl (c. 1390–1370 BC) was a Nordic Bronze Age girl whose well-preserved remains were found at Egtved ( 55°37′N, 9°18′E), Denmark in 1921. Aged 16–18 at death, she was slim, 160 cm tall (about 5ft 2in), had long blonde hair and well-trimmed nails. Her burial has been dated by dendrochronology to 1370 BC.
Heather is Mr. Behn’s imagined portrayal of the Egtved Girl. The Egtved Girl died young. So I kept thinking all the way through the story that it was going to be very sad because Heather was going to die. Sure enough. Think Romeo and Juliet, c.1370 BC in Denmark. It’s tragic. (I still haven’t told you what I found shocking about the ending.)
But I might suggest this book to Brown Bear Daughter. It could give her a very good picture of what life was like for some groups of people three thousand years ago.
This book is another in my ancient history historical fiction project.