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The Four-Story Mistake (The Melendy Family #2)

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  2,487 ratings  ·  118 reviews
The Melendy family moves from their New York City brownstone to an odd old house in the country. Mona, 13, actress-to-be, recites poetry at the drop of a hat. Rush, 12, is a bit mischievous. Miranda, 10, dances and paints pictures. Oliver, 6, is calm and thoughtful. Their father is a writer, so beloved housekeeper Cuffy takes on the motherly role
Hardcover, 177 pages
Published 1942 by Farrar & Rinehart
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This time through, I was struck anew by the brilliance of Enright's writing. She's subtle, she's hilarious, she's... well, brilliant. I suspect she's a large part of the reason I'm such a harsh Goodreads rater.

This book is one of my favorites. Each of the characters is so distinct, so singular, so real (even the dogs, for heaven's sake) that the inclusion of "Mona said" and "Rush said" is practically superfluous.

The storyline is lovely. There's just enough, never too much. It's not the lea
I've now read aloud the first two Melendy books to my son, who is enjoying them, which yes, as much as I myself love them, is a surprise to me. Enright's realistic (if not always entirely plausible) family stories are a little old-fashioned; they are character-driven, episodic, and full of references to musicians and actors and other high-culture types most nine-year-olds haven't heard of. My son also seems to be aware that his interest in them is a little unexpected. "I don't know why I like th ...more
Another absolutely charming and delightful Melendy book :-) I really love Elizabeth Enright's writing and how she makes everyday details so special.
Linda Lipko
There is nothing spectacular about it, no complicated plot, no difficult story line, and there is no page turning, cannot wait to get to the end feeling.

But, there is a calm sense of wonderment regarding the way in which the author painted an idyllic childhood of four lovely children who were uprooted from a house in the city to a large mansion-like structure in the country.

There is a loving widowed father, a nanny who is kind and gentle, a dog, and warm food and cool drink.

There are streams, tr
A very nice juvenile story. Holds alot of nostalgia and sweetness from a slower and simpler place in time. That is, if you can get past the 'golly' and 'swell' exclamations within the text! :)

None of the children got up to anything terribly bad - the worst thing was sneaking out of a bedroom window to sit in a treehouse - and this was refreshing. But there were many fun adventures and family outings to read about.

Will fill in the missing volumes of this series and read when I need something like
Nice, but not as special as the first Melendy book. Part of it may be that I personally find adventures in the city but interesting than pleasant living in the country, but I also think the narrative tone has shifted. In The Saturdays I thought Enright really captured the perspective and feelings of the children. Here, I still liked the siblings and their relationships, but the narration felt more like an adult onlooker, and there was a little too much of that "aww, aren't the kids sweet?" tone. ...more
This series set in the 1940's captures so well the magic of childhood in the glorious days before the invention of the screen. In this book, the Melendy family moves to the idyllic countryside in a home that has an unfolding story of its own. Adventures abound for the four Melendy children with the influence of those clever twin sisters, Curiosity and Imagination.
Although this is much older than the Penderwicks books, it reminds me of them. It is bit too sweet, reminiscent of a different era, where children played outside without supervision, wrote plays and performed them at home, were nice to all of the members of their families, and were supported by everyone in the community. It makes me a bit nostalgic. But, perversely, I also long to see a little orneriness here and there, too. I guess it is a bit of orneriness in myself that can't help thinking, i ...more
Rea K
First chapter is about moving, which I can totally relate to. The kids are all nostalgic about their old house and aren't sure that they'll love the new house. I'm definitely going to miss my old house, particularly since there will be NO going back, none of that "House that Built Me" sort of thing.
There was a point where if anyone heard a squeak and an admonishment of "Rush Melendy!" that was me. At one point IN THIS CHILDREN'S BOOK, Rush says 'jackass'. Which, yeah, 1940s, but STILL. RUSH! Yo
I love books about old country houses, and although the Four-Story Mistake isn’t quite so old, it’s still a house with secrets, and I loved discovering them with the Melendys. I especially loved all the kids’ exclamations of disgust at how dumb they are as they discover the secret room because what I love most about Enright is her realistic capturing of children and their dialogue. I feel as if the Melendys could have actually existed, as if they were actually real children who grew up during th ...more
My kids put this audiobook on during lunchtimes and car trips around town, and while I listened carefully to some parts, others got lost in the background of other things that caught my attention, like hemming my son's pants (which takes all of my brain power). Usually I don't bother hemming my son's pants. I just cuff them or let him walk on them until his legs grow into them, but these are the pants for the little suit he's wearing to my brother's wedding. If I had been willing to cut them off ...more
Hmm, slowly warming to the series. I keep picking up the next in the series, so I clearly haven't given up yet. LOL I like the bits about the war, seeing the home front without having to see someone go off to war. That's rare. Of all the characters, I wish we knew more about Father. I think I'd like him a lot. I picture him a bit as Christopher Plummer, from Sound of Music days. *g*
Josh Ang
This second book in the Melendy Quartet sees the family move from the city into a country house, aptly called the Four-Story Mistake for the uncompleted 4th story which only has a cupola. The four children adapts to a new life, with the narrative spread out like the previous book "The Saturdays", among all of them. However, it is Randy, the curly-haired 3rd child, who is given most attention, as it is through her perspective that opens the book and gives voice to the penultimate chapter.

The chil
When Mona, Rush, Randy and Oliver move to the country, they don't expect to have the same adventures they enjoyed in Manhattan. Still, their lives soon change with the addition of a new and unexpected member.
Although it's rather treacle-y, I like this book. I first read it as a child and then couldn't remember the title for the next 20 years. Now that I have discovered its identity I am re-reading. Although nothing much happens in the book it's still a fairy tale from beginning to end. How *spoiler* likely is it that 50 people would pay to see elementary schoolers in a play, with both singing AND dancing, that their own children are not even in?! Their car blows a tire so to save money they buy a po ...more
The Four-Story Mistake, the sequel to The Saturdays, picks up some months after that book left off: it's October, and the Melendy family is moving out of their Manhattan brownstone to a house in the country. As in The Saturdays, the characters and the story are charming, and Enright is emotionally astute: I loved this, from moving day: Randy is looking around at the empty room she used to share with Mona, talking to herself "crossly because she was sad and she preferred sounding cross to soundin ...more
An Odd1
The Melendy family move to a country ten-acre manor, where building extra storey was cut short by finances, taking both servants. Old Willy Sloper transitions from urban indoor furnaces to outdoors, planting, "black frost" p 142 .

Moral standards are insidious when accepted. Rush keeps secret first breakfast from Willy and eats Cuffy's all over again - why? Oliver 6 hides fact of being in basement. All swear "blood vow" and keep hidden room secret, with portrait of Clarinda Cassidy, (view spoile
Maureen E
by Elizabeth Enright

Asking me to choose a favorite book from this series would be like asking me to choose a favorite Melendy: it could be done, but it would be painful, and I'd really rather not have to. But I have to admit that The Four-story Mistake is definitely high on the list. The Saturdays is a wonderful introduction to the Melendys and Cuffy and Willy Sloper, but with the Melendys move from New York City to the country we begin the real business of the series. (Don't ask me what that
This series is really growing on me. I enjoyed this one more and more as the story went along.

Randy is probably my favorite (although I don't see why anyone would want a scar) and Mona is my least favorite. I love this book for its descriptions of nature and for the wonderful type of free range childhood the Melendy children enjoy (sometimes a little too free, as evidenced by Randy's accident!). Enright has a wonderful way with words and a special talent for capturing amusing details. As a side
Jenn O'Brien
This is book two in the series and once again the nostalgia pulled me in. I love the writing of 1942 and the references of things long forgotten today. An easier simplier time of childhood innocence and exploration. Unlike the first one, this one deals with a more intense time by reference a World War II. The children are saving money to buy bonds and collecting paper and metal for scrap drives to help the war effort.

I think the thing that enchanted me the most about this particular book was tha
Joel Simon
This is the second of four books in Elizabeth Enright's series about the Melendy kids. My 11 year old loves these books, so I am reading them with her. This one is even better than the first one (which I loved). Although a little old-fashioned in its style (written in the 1940s), the adventures of the four Melendy kids, this time in their new old house in the country are exciting, mischievous, but wholesome tales that will entertain children (and adults as well). The best thing is that this book ...more
Mae Walker
I love this series of books. I was surprised to read the author was an only child as her descriptions of the children are so much like my brothers and sister, the things they say and do are the sorts of things we say and do.
Having said that, I have never found a diamond in a creek, slept in a tree house all night or managed to do a lounge room production without one of the little actors bursting into tears or punching someone.
But that is what books are for!
This story was really cute and fun. This adventure kicks off right where the last on ended. But now the Melendys are moving to the shore. They are so far away from everything so no more Saturday fun for them. This book shows the process of moving to the reader which moves the story along to living by the house. I highly recommend this book to everyone. Thanks for taking the time to read my review.
How could I have not reviewed this before? I didn't discover the Melendy family until I was 21, and I fell in with them and fell in love with them immediately. The first time I read this I jotted down this quote:
It had been a good day, a wonderful day. She had a new bicycle, she had made new friends, and probably she was going to have a scar.

Re-read for VSC discussion
I really want to give it a 4 1/2. I really like this book and it's so close to being a five, but it's just under. The thing I really like about this book is how interested the kids are in learning and growing and going after the things they want. They are just really nice kids to be around and I love to read that!
April Knapp
This series was published originally in the 1940s, though this is my first introduction to the books. I found them to be nothing special, but they are pleasant stories about loving siblings.

This series is not my cup of tea. If you enjoy saccharine sweet stories, like The Boxcar Children, and believing that the 40s and 50s were simpler, more innocent times (I don't buy it :-)), then you might enjoy these books.

I don't think this series stands the test of time-they seem a bit outdated. Enright is
This is a charming children's book written in the WWII era. The four Melendy children move from the city to the country, and there they live an idyllic, adventurous-but-believable childhood. The first chapter or two probably was a little slow to my kids, but once the foundation was laid, they begged me to keep reading each night. What's fascinating about the book is that it doesn't have some huge, overarching plot, but instead it reads like a collection of little minor events such as learning to ...more
Nevada Libert
great book i love the adventures in it i love how they had to learn what it was like in the country, i love how mona got to learn how to dance and live her dream.
Heidi Hertzog
I just "re-read" this book via audio book and was as charmed with it as always if not more. It's fun when a book you loved as a child still holds up when you re-read it as an adult. In fact, I think was even MORE charmed by it as an adult than I was as a child, as I appreciated the author's writing style even more as an adult. It's still a book that makes me wish I could be transported right into the book and into the lives of the Melendy children and experience the Four-Story Mistake myself. Ca ...more
The Melendy Quartet is one of the most delightful children's series I've ever read. I thought so when a camp counselor first read them to our cabin as bedtime stories when I was 10. A recent re-read at age 26 proves that this is still true.

In the forward, Enright explains that readers often asked her whether the Melendy children were real. She goes on to say that they are based in part on herself, her own children, people she knew over the course of her life, and imagination. She ends, however,
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Nostalgia 1 16 Aug 06, 2008 11:17AM  
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Elizabeth Enright (1907-1968) was born in Oak Park, Illinois, but spent most of her life in or near New York City. Her mother was a magazine illustrator, while her father was a political cartoonist. Illustration was Enright's original career choice and she studied art in Greenwich, Connecticut; Paris, France; and New York City. After creating her first book in 1935, she developed a taste, and quic ...more
More about Elizabeth Enright...

Other Books in the Series

The Melendy Family (4 books)
  • The Saturdays (The Melendy Family, #1)
  • Then There Were Five (The Melendy Family, #3)
  • Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze
The Saturdays (The Melendy Family, #1) Gone-Away Lake (Gone-Away Lake, #1) Thimble Summer Then There Were Five (The Melendy Family, #3) Return to Gone-Away (Gone-Away Lake, #2)

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