The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway, Ashley Schumacher

An illustrated cover with a teen girl holding a blue dress and a teen boy holding a lute.

About the Book

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.

Book Links


My Thoughts

“Sometimes there is nothing else to say but what has already been said.”

Do you know how hard it was to get approved for an ARC in September ‘22 and hold off until closer to release day to read it? But it was worth the wait because I have so many feelings and nowhere to put them (except into the cat, the poor thing is sick of my smothering.)

Maddy, aka Gwen, lost her mother almost a year ago. Because of that loss, she’s built some pretty thick walls. Her motto is: if she doesn’t let anyone in, she can’t get hurt when they leave. But now she and her father are headed back to Stormsworth, the Faire her mother loved best, and she’s not dealing with it well. Used to keeping track of everything that happens, Arthur will blow into her life and get her to notice a little less and a lot more.

So here’s the thing. I get that Maddy has tall, thick walls. But so often, she was mean for the sake of being mean. Walls don’t explain her meanness, and I get she’s hurting, but I just can’t sometimes with her. Listen, I lost my parents in my senior year in high school. Yes, I built walls, but I wasn’t mean. And my experience isn’t everyone’s, not in the slightest. Everyone has their own experiences with loss, and it’s theirs alone. But sometimes, I didn’t get her meanness. It doesn’t change how much I love the book, it just didn’t resonate with me.

Moving on…

Outside of the meanness, Schumacher is me as a teen in so many ways. I love her writing, and I love all of her books. Reflecting on this book, I see so many things that I highlighted along the way. The writing is so thoughtful. I loved Arthur and his dads. The Faire setting is so much fun, and I would have loved to see even more of it. (cough a book 2.) And I absolutely loved watching people come into Maddy’s life. Bri and Noah were the icing on the cake and even more of a reason that I-need-more. Thank you, St. Martin’s, for sending this along!

Side note: If you didn’t see my quotables post, I have many that I shared from this book.

Do you do Renaissance Faires?
I’ve only been to a couple because it’s a haul to get to them where I live.


4 thoughts on “The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway, Ashley Schumacher

  1. Men often react to grief with anger and meanness but you don’t often see that in women, so that is a curious attribute for the main character to have. I have this ARC, and now I’m very curious how I will react to it. Excellent and insightful review!

    Liked by 1 person

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