by Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem, translated by Kristen Gehrman

Eighteen-year-old Constance is not interested in marriage or in being a “young lady.” But for a young woman coming of age in the early 1800s, that’s just about all that’s available to her. When her parents arrange her a marriage with a man more than twice her age, she’s powerless to resist. Stance couldn’t possibly find her newfound husband less appealing, but what can she do?

Here’s what:

Four months into the marriage, she can slip out of their bed in the middle of the night, and she can put on his clothes. She can look in the mirror and like what she sees. She can sneak out of the house before dawn and visit the baker’s scrawny son, who has just been drafted into the army, and offer to take his place. Vive l’Empereur!

Hot on Stance’s tail all the while is her younger brother Pieter, determined to bring Stance back home to Ghent where she belongs. (The battlefield is no place for a young lady, after all.)

Ironhead, or, Once A Young Lady is the riotous and powerful story of a fierce renegade, and the silly men who try to bring her down.

Click on the cover to read the Levine Querido presentation. On youtube, you can find a short introduction to the novel. I’m talking about what inspired me to write the novel. I’m standing near the river Lieve and its banks where the first chapter of the novel takes place.

In March, I was interviewed by Danielle Ballantyne of Foreword Reviews on ‘Ironhead, or, Once a Young Lady’. You can read it at:

‘Ironhead, or, Once a Young Lady’ garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, BCCB and Horn Book and others on Seattle Book Review and School Library Journal.

The novel has been nominated for the 2022 IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Honor List “for the quality of its writing”. The honor list comprises 163 books for children to young adults that were published around the world in the last year. I feel honored to be nominated.

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