Monday, May 19, 2008


Edwards, Julie. 1971. Mandy.

Mandy, I admit, was a childhood favorite of mine. There was just something so heartfelt, so vital, about this young orphan girl who was searching for something to make her feel complete and found it in having her own little secret garden and cottage. Her dreams, her determination, her stubbornness made Mandy work for me. It's not that you can't find those characteristics in other orphans--I can think of plenty and I'm sure you can as well. But I think the fact is that I personally "met" Mandy first. (I read it before Anne of Green Gables or The Secret Garden.) Mandy is very simply the story of a young girl, Mandy, growing up in an orphanage. A girl who is as happy as she can be--most of the time at least--but not as happy as she wants to be, needs to be in order to feel truly, deeply loved. She's a girl that longs for more, wants more. She discovers in part what she's looking for when she ventures over the wall surrounding the orphanage. She finds a forgotten little place--perhaps this place represents herself in her mind, I haven't really thought of it like that--that is crying out for love and attention. It's in sad shape. But Mandy is determined to "play" house quite properly. She wants to fix up the garden, fix up the yard, and fix up the house. And she'll stop at NOTHING to do it.

Mandy, unlike Anne in many ways, is a sad and lonely little girl. It's not that she couldn't make friends her own age at the orphanage, that she couldn't connect with others, it's that she doesn't want to. She's introspective, I suppose. Would prefer to be my herself in some ways, yet feels a terrible loneliness. A garden--of flowers and such--isn't going to take the place of a family, a friend no matter how much Mandy wishes it to.

I loved Mandy then, and I love Mandy now.

For those that aren't aware, Julie Edwards = Julie Andrews.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Suey said...

One of my favorite books of all time!

Annette Laing said...

I just came across Julie Andrews' Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles in a used book sale. I have to admit, my first thought was "probably another celebrity author with a lame book." Now I wish I'd bought it, and serves me right! I am fascinated to learn from you that her kidlit career goes back nearly forty years at least, and impressed that she did not cash in on her name as a first resort. Good for her!

Stephanie said...

I have never read this book! But it sounds fantastic!!

BTW, I just joined your End of the World Challenge!

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

I adored Mandy. Still do (I have my childhood copy, and I reread it every year or so). I think it was her longing for a place of her own, and then the work she did on the cottage (especially the gardening), that resonated with me.

Jill said...

This was one of my childhood favorites as well! In fact, I recently picked up a copy at my library's book sale to read to my own kids. I know they'll love it too.

Sarah Miller said...

MANDY was one of our all-time favorite standbys for fourth grade girls at the shop. :) It's a sweetheart.