Friday, 8 April 2016

The sonnet in The Beautiful Thread

During the Middle Ages, there were so many social, political and theological constraints. To step outside convention and orthodoxy was dangerous – it could cost your life.

Maybe because it was so, artists and writers became adept at coded signals. The medieval mind loved patterns and riddles, ever seeking and inserting hidden messages – in poetic forms, in the physical attitudes and attributes and attire of the subjects of paintings, in juxtapositions and order, in shapes that called to mind other shapes. So much was said in what remained unsaid: and people became accustomed to looking for the silenced word.

In his plays, Shakespeare conveys much about relationship – harmonies and disharmonies – by the forms in which he presents dialogues and soliloquies.

The Hawk and the Dove series is written throughout in prose evocative of the medieval mindset. Some reviewers express disappointment at the modernity of some of the phraseology – but what I tried to do was express the spirit I found in medieval attitudes and writing, not recreate the forms. Though here and there I’ve enjoyed working with medieval literary conventions – for example, the frame tale form of the first two volumes and the evocation of the Fioretti in the vignettes of those first two books.

And I wonder – if you have read The Beautiful Thread, did you find the sonnet hidden in it?


Deborah said...

Nope I didn't...more clues please :-D

Pen Wilcock said...


I'll post again and explain where it is. xx

Jill Stanish said...

I just finished The Beautiful Thread and I did not catch the sonnet (but thank you for the explanation!). As I finished the book, I was thinking how much I would love to share these characters and some of the lessons they learn with my children. Any plans to create picture books as a way to introduce young readers to the rich world of the Hawk and the Dove?

Pen Wilcock said...


I'm so glad you enjoyed The Beautiful Thread.

At present there are no plans to create picture books to accompany the series for children, but the first book in the series is specially written to be accessible to all age readers, and the second book is written to be accessible to older children and teens as well as adults. I often hear from readers who tell me the first book - The Hawk and the Dove - is one they read aloud as a family with their children (every year, in some instances), and the first three books in the series are part of a homeschool syllabus/curriculum reading list in the US. So maybe The Hawk and the Dove is the place to start with children, then they can explore the rest of the series as they mature.