(This is a review of the whole series, by the way.)
Maud Hart Lovelace was born in 1892 in Mankato, Minnesota, the town she later immortalized as Deep(This is a review of the whole series, by the way.)
Maud Hart Lovelace was born in 1892 in Mankato, Minnesota, the town she later immortalized as Deep Valley in her beloved series of Betsy-Tacy books. These follow the adventures of childhood friends Betsy Ray and Tacy Kelly from the age of five, when they meet for the first time at Betsy's birthday party, through the school years to marriage and beyond.
The books are based largely on Lovelace's own life, and I think this is what gives them their special quality of affectionate nostalgia and deep sense of place. The characters and the setting have history behind them; every year Betsy's family celebrates her parents' wedding anniversary by visiting her mother's girlhood home, where they were married, and on the drive home, their parents share stories of their childhood and Deep Valley's history.
Besides that, they're just plain charming. Betsy, Tacy, and all of their friends and family are vivid characters, and following along as they grow up, it's easy to feel a part of the group, to the extent that I always feel distressed when, in Betsy and Joe, an old friend of Betsy's suddenly drops out of the group and is barely ever mentioned again. (I was very relieved when I finally found a copy of Carney's House Party and found out what happened to him.)
The illustrations are a large part of the books' charm as well: Lois Lenski's distinctive style in the first four books, and Vera Neville's graceful drawings in the others....more
This is the first in a series of seven historical novels called the Williamsburg Novels, which follow the families of the Days and the Spragues of WilThis is the first in a series of seven historical novels called the Williamsburg Novels, which follow the families of the Days and the Spragues of Williamsburg, Virginia, through over 160 years, many generations, and several wars (from the American Revolution in Dawn's Early Light through the beginning years of World War II in This Was Tomorrow and Homing). I have read them so many times (starting when I was about seven years old) that I practically have them memorized, as have most of the other women in my family. Each book focuses on one or two main romances, with other strands of story weaving through them.
Thane has two remarkable gifts which keep the books compelling through every read. The first is the ability to portray the events, characters, and atmosphere of the historical periods she's writing about convincingly and memorably. Thane spent many years doing research in the United States and in England, and she's able to translate her research into a richly detailed historical background.
Against this background is set Thane's other gift: her characters. You might think that in a series of seven books about the same family, the characters would tend to blend into each other, but that's not the case; every one of them is an individual personality. The nicest effect of this is that as the books get closer together in time (Ever After through Homing only covers slightly over forty years), many characters feature throughout the books, and you get to see how their personalities and relationships develop over time and how the romances central to previous books worked out.
Rereading the Williamsburg books is like revisiting old, loved friends; I can remember meeting them for the first time, but it's even nicer to revisit them....more
I'm fond of all Noel Streatfeild's books, but this one, being the first I read, has a special place in my heart. It introduces Pauline, Petrova, and PI'm fond of all Noel Streatfeild's books, but this one, being the first I read, has a special place in my heart. It introduces Pauline, Petrova, and Posy Fossil, orphans who are adopted by an eccentric geologist who then disappears for years, leaving the girls in the care of his niece Sylvia and her old nanny, Nana. When the money he left Sylvia runs out, they decide to send the girls to stage school.
The story and characters are lively and memorable, and Streatfeild describes the girls' training and their dreams and goals with warmth, humor, and a realism which makes the book come alive. I've probably read it twenty times or more, and I find it delightful every time....more