Sunday, November 03, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Mandy (1971)

Mandy. Julie Andrews Edwards. 1971. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Bought Replacement Copy]

Long before I met Anne, Heidi, Pollyanna, Mary, Emily, or Sara, I met a young orphan girl named Mandy. She was quiet and loved to read. She had an inner thought life, as well as complex emotions that she just could not comprehend. There was something under the surface of Mandy that made her a good choice for me. It wasn't pity I felt. It was genuine affection. The story of Mandy is simple and straightforward. Young orphan climbs over wall and discovers an abandoned cottage (of sorts) with an out-of-control garden. She decides to adopt this place as her very own. She becomes completely absorbed in the home of her own creation. She weeds. She plants. She waters. She cleans. She scrubs. She has LOTS of tea. It is not a magical cure, and yet, it sets something in motion that helps her in the end. In the process of making this place hers, Mandy abandons her good-but-thoughtless obedience and begins to tell lies, to bend the truth, to sneak around, to covet, to steal. Mandy isn't a perfect heroine. She is all-too-human. She makes mistakes. She doesn't always think things through. I think I loved Mandy because she may have been the first heroine who dealt with some of the darker (but natural) emotions like sadness, loneliness, and disappointment.
She was a dreamer. Most of the time she lived in a make-believe world of her own. She loved to read. She exchanged books at the local library at least once a week. The wonders of Robinson Crusoe and Alice in Wonderland and Gulliver's Travels were very real to her and offered far more excitement than the reality of her life could ever provide. (6)
She occasionally experienced sad, disturbing feelings. Sometimes she felt an ache inside that would not go away. It seemed then as though her life were very empty. She would cry for no reason at all, seemingly, and it frightened her when she did. She tried to be brave and put away her feelings.
"I'm having one of my attacks again," she would think, trying hard not to let people see her tears.
Her attempts to keep busy were mostly an effort to fill her life so that she had no time to feel disconsolate. But the nagging sadness was persistent, and it would envelop her when she least expected it.
As Mandy grew, her longings grew stronger and sometimes she felt as though she must surely break apart with so much going on inside her. It was as though she were searching for something though what or where it was she could not say. (7-8) 
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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