Kelly Williams's Reviews > The Education of Bet

The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
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's review
Feb 19, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: historical, ya
Read on February 17, 2011 — I own a copy

The Education of Bet is the story of a young woman who disguises herself as a boy in order to attend school. It was a light, enjoyable story. My main complaint was that it was a little too light, and definitely too short. In order for the premise to work, Bet had to come from a very specific social background--not high enough class that she would have had the expectations of a governess and tutors, but not so low that any schooling at all would be completely out of the realm of possibility. In order to go undercover into a boy's school, one first needs access to said school. Bet had that, and I found her odd situation as compelling as it was heartbreaking. On the down side, I found it enormously hard to believe that no one noticed Bet and Will as they went about training her to be a "boy." Perhaps if either character were in an actual position of power in the house I might have been able to swallow the servants looking the other way, but neither were. It seemed ridiculous that no one ever mentioned anything to Will's uncle. After Baratz-Logsted spent so much time crafting a not-family, not-servant role for Bet, it was disappointing to see the servants treated as such non-entities in the story. Indeed, Bet herself gives little thought to the danger they posed to her plot, when one would think that she of all people would be keenly aware of any danger to her precarious position in the house.

I enjoyed the at-school portion of the story on the whole, but again questioned the story's historical accuracy when no one blinks at "Will's" twin sister strolling up to the school for the dance completely unchaperoned. The area of society these people occupied was riddled with rules, and young women were the most constricted. Bet the twin sister would never have traveled on her own, and certainly not to a school filled with young men.

The story ends happily and neatly, which I can appreciate even when it feels a little pat. I would have liked to know more about James' situation beyond his single letter, and would definitely liked to have seen James and Bet's reunion. Like I said, a little longer.

All in all, this was a fun, enjoyable book, but my experience with it suffered primarily because I read The Twin's Daughter, a much heavier and more complex book by Baratz-Logsted, first.

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