Review: The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher

Posted March 13, 2023 by Lillian in Reviews / 1 Comment

I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Review: The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley SchumacherThe Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher
Published by Wednesday Books on 2023-03-14
Length: 308 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2023, 2023 New Release Challenge, COYER 2023

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.

Cute and fun summer romance! The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher is a YA contemporary romance set on the summer Ren Faire circuit. The book opens on Maddie and her dad arriving at Stormsworth, her mom’s favorite faire stop. However, this year is different. Her mom is gone, and the new owners of the faire completely renovated so it no longer looks as she remembers. Maddie was looking forward to routine ahead of the anniversary of her mom’s death, but instead she’s getting thrown out of it by a cute bard who insists they will be friends.

I adored this book. It is so well written. Schumacher addresses grief, depression, and therapy with a skilled hand balancing it with the everyday trials of being a teenager. What I loved most about Maddie’s story is how real and relevant it felt. A lot of YA’s are written for the adults who read them, yet this one is written for teens. Schumacher weaves a story that is relatable to today’s teenagers, and I believe it will resonate with anyone who reads it.

Maddie is wonderfully flawed. It’s almost been a year since she lost her mom to cancer, and she’s still learning to cope with her grief. She keeps a book of “noticings,” things that she wants to remember with tally marks when she sees/experiences them. This is almost a burden to her, but the routine is what she needs. On the first night of faire, she is mourning all that her mother is missing with the changes that have come when a boy her age dressed as a bard declares her princess of the faire and is determined they will be friends. “Fate” he says.

Arthur is so much fun. He can be a bit…much 😂 and Maddie just barely tolerates him. I loved how he recognizes and sees Maddie for what is inside. He sees and acknowledges her grief in a way that most adults lack. He’s careful with her, thoughtful, and empathetic. I fell in love with him pretty immediately despite his over the top dramatics. It takes a while for Maddie to warm up to him though.

The setting of the faire adds to the fun of the novel. I loved seeing it through Maddie’s eyes. She’s grown up on the circuit, both her parents working it full time. It’s really all she knows. BUT Arthur forces her to slow down and take it all in this summer. It offers a new perspective and allows Maddie to grieve.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway. Highly recommend for fans of YA contemporary romance or if you are looking for a sweet read that is guaranteed to leave you smiling.

*I buddy read this book with Lenore @ Celebrity Readers who also rated it 4 stars.

About Ashley Schumacher

Author Ashley Schumacher

Ashley Schumacher is the author of Amelia Unabridged and Full Flight and has a degree in creative writing from the University of North Texas. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s either singing Disney songs, finding new and exciting ways to pester her family, or trying to find her inside voice, which has been sadly missing since birth. She lives in a small town north of Dallas with her husband, son, and more books than is strictly necessary.

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