The Secret of the Ruby Ring

“The Secret of this Ruby Ring

Is that two wishes it can bring,

On right hand, middle finger place

Then turn the ring round but twice,

Now make your wish, then wait and see,

How magic the Ruby Ring can be.”


The Secret of the Ruby Ring, by Yvonne MacGrory, is just the type of book I would have loved as a child, and the magic is still not lost. There are also charming line drawings by Terry Myler sprinkled liberally throughout–the cover is a color example.

Lucy McLaughlin has a good heart, but is rather spoiled. On the eve of her eleventh birthday she receives an heirloom ruby ring from her grandmother. That night she finds herself transported back to Langley Castle in 1885 Ireland. There she becomes nursery maid to Robert and Elizabeth, who are her own age, and learns the ropes from kitchen maid Nellie. Soon she realizes she must enlist the help of her new friends to retrieve the ring and return home, but will they ever believe her?

The book won Ireland’s 1991 Bisto Award for Best First Novel of the Year, and it is easy to see why. Lucy is a likeable girl despite her faults, with believable character growth. In addition, MacGrory creates a detailed picture of privileged life at the time  (including upstairs/downstairs contrast) while weaving in the historical background. I know shockingly little Irish history other than the Potato Famine, but apparently the 1880s was a time of conflict with landlords, eviction, and boycotting, not to mention early calls for Home Rule. I love when fiction gives me the chance to learn something new!

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Published in: on July 18, 2009 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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