Book Review: The Outlaws of Ravenhurst by Sr. M. Imelda, S.L.

 

Charles Gordon, son of Sir James of Gordon, Earl of Ravenhurst, and Lady Margaret, is placed in the care of John and Mary Abell while still a baby.

“George”, as they call him, has not yet been told by the Abells that he is not their real son but they love him just as dearly as they love their other children.

At age ten, George, on returning home after a delightful day with Joel (whom he thinks is his twin), is faced with the shocking revelation when two men arrive on the scene to take him away to his birthplace in Scotland.

The Abells admit the truth to him and George is then obliged to part with those he loves most to a home unknown to him.

This bitter separation is to be merely the first of many crosses to bear.

The men he travels with were his uncle, Sir Roger, who is both a weakling and a tyrant, and Godfrey Bertrandson, a deceitful and cunning man whom the boy considers his friend.

However, after meeting his real mother, he is warned by her not to trust Godfrey either. Both want Gordon to deny his Faith. It is only their methods that differ.

If he is ever in need of help, his mother tells him he can trust Benson, the old nurse at Ravenhurst, Muckle John, and old Edwin, the gate warden.

Gordon has the privilege one day of meeting, quite by accident, his other uncle, Father Stephen, who is in hiding and ministering, whenever possible, to those in need of the Sacraments.

Gordon learns from Father that Lady Margaret has been threatened by Roger that if she ever dares to speak to her son about the Faith he would execute the law to the fullest since he is now acting Earl of Ravenhurst.

She is found out and is then imprisoned as is Gordon’s father.

Gordon, after receiving from Uncle Roger brutal beatings and the punishment of thirst and starvation for refusing to tell what he knows of Father Stephen and holding fast to his own Faith, gains the necessary strength to bear his cross bravely after reading a journal of the sufferings his family endured for the Faith.

Sir Roger hopes that Gordon will relent but Gordon, turning to God for help, and kissing the stain of the Precious Blood on the mantle, is then inspired to escape through the secret passageways that his mother has told him about.

After many adventures, Gordon is finally reunited to his parents. They emigrate to America to be able to practice their beloved Catholic religion.

Strong Points:
Gordon’s noble and virtuous father sacrifices for himself and his heirs all claims of title, land, and castle, forgiving from his heart the brutalities done to himself, Lady Margaret and Gordon, leaving Ravenhurst to Roger.

The Catholic Faith is thus his first priority.

Muckle John is determined to kill Sir Roger until the good Father Stephen tells him “Vengeance is sin. Because Roger has wounded the heart of Christ by sin, need you sin also?”

Muckle John understands the lesson.

Many other lessons can be learned from this adventurous, intriguing novel.

Gordon is a role model for any young man. He is “all boy” at play and all man where courage, endurance and self-sacrifice are called for in the face of danger and in defence of the Faith.

The reader becomes acquainted with the history of Scotland.

The teacher can give some background in using Warren Carroll’s History of Christendom (Volume IV).

Cautions:
There are several passages in Scottish dialect, which some children may find a little difficult to read.

Conclusion:
This is one of the best Catholic books for children ever written.

A little after it was published, it was voted “our most eaten-up book” by 900 schools.

This is no wonder since the story combines thrilling adventures (once you start the book, it is hard to put down) with tremendous inspiration (especially the martyrdom of Sir Angus).

It is a must read for Catholic students.

Thanks to Edocere for sharing. For Grade 7.

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