I really love this family. It's one of those where I can believe that the girls would really both bicker and love each other as they d...moreby Sidney Taylor
I really love this family. It's one of those where I can believe that the girls would really both bicker and love each other as they do. And actually, there's not a lot of bickering. I think my favorite has always been Ella, just because she's the oldest and so am I (I tend to really identify with oldest children in books. Yes, I have problems with fairy tales.)
I also loved and love the glimpse into another culture. The family are observant Jews and their faith is the main underpinning of their life, shaping their experiences and year. This book gives just a taste of what it might have been like to celebrate Purim, Seder, and Succos. While I've never actually attended a Jewish service, in some ways this part seemed oddly familiar. I think that it's because, like Judaism, my own faith celebrates its festivals deeply. Like the girls, I grew up in a world where the circle of the year was shaped by the different feasts.
I think that really this book is wholesome in the best sense of the word. When I read it, I feel whole. Taylor doesn't gloss over the difficulties of tenement life in the early 1900s, but at the same time they don't define the girls' lives. Their parents work hard and are sometimes discouraged, but they also love their children and try to give them the best life possible.
Book source: public library Book information: Random House, 1951 (originally)(less)
This is a book for the unabashed romantic and the unabashed Montgomery lover. It contains nineteen short stories by Montgomery, all concerning (you gu...moreThis is a book for the unabashed romantic and the unabashed Montgomery lover. It contains nineteen short stories by Montgomery, all concerning (you guessed it!) marriage. Some stories are quite humorous; “Them Notorious Pigs,” for example. Most are more typically romantic, although all of them have the undeniable tang that Montgomery imparts to her characters. Even the most predictable stories are seldom boring.
Of course, they are predictable. In a collection focusing on love and weddings that is almost a given. There are no surprises here. Well, perhaps half a one. But if you throw all desire for a spectacular climax to the winds, sit back, and enjoy the journey, the stories are often quite rewarding. The minor characters quite often had me in stitches (Aunt Marcella in “What Aunt Marcella Would Have Called It,” Miss Susan in “By the Rule of Contrary”) and the main characters are usually sympathetic and at least semi-believable.
In my opinion, the absolute worst part of this book is the front cover, which depicts a young girl in a shirtwaist and black skirt standing in an orchard with a gentleman some years her senior behind her. I am not sure what story this is supposed to represent, but it ranks up there with the cover of The Blue Castle and the “Nibbler” cover of Persuasion. The whole thing makes the book look like a second-class romance novel. I would like to hear what L.M. Montgomery would say if she could see it.(less)
The first in the long list of Streatfeild books, this is the story of Pauline, Petrova, and Posy Fossil. They weren’t born sisters, but after Gum (Gre...moreThe first in the long list of Streatfeild books, this is the story of Pauline, Petrova, and Posy Fossil. They weren’t born sisters, but after Gum (Great-Uncle-Matthew) collects them in his travels, they became the Fossil sisters. (Fossil because Gum used to collect fossils before he lost his leg and then he collected them instead.)
The bulk of the book deals with the three girls at Madame Fidolia’s Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training. Posy exhibits a remarkable talent for dancing, Pauline for acting, and Petrova….well, Petrova is certainly talented, but her talents lie more in the world of aviation than anything else. Still Garnie, their guardian (Gum’s real great-neice), needs the money so Petrova keeps on dancing.
The book is a simple and sweet story with the three girls and the somewhat unlikely household around them realistically and sympathetically drawn. Gum is away on a long voyage and so he becomes a sort of mythic figure—a shadowy presence that the girls don’t remember but that nonetheless influenced the whole course of their lives.
The book also gives the reader an interesting glimpse into life in London in the years before WWII. The girls are definitely poor and the book does not shy away from portraying their struggles with their lack of means. Almost everything works out in the end, but enough is left unresolved to keep the story from becoming unbelievable or unpalatably sweet. In my opinion, the most unbelievable thing about the story is the way that the three girls are found. But I’m not sure that we aren’t meant to laugh at that part and not entirely believe it.
A childhood favorite. I said recently on Twitter that it’s hard to overstate the importance of Betsy Ray. This is the one with Mrs. Poppy and Uncle Ke...moreA childhood favorite. I said recently on Twitter that it’s hard to overstate the importance of Betsy Ray. This is the one with Mrs. Poppy and Uncle Keith. They’re all wonderful, of course, but it was a pure pleasure to re-read this one. (less)