Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Penderwicks On Gardam Street


Birdsall, Jeanne. 2008. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.

Sometimes it's best to read a book without having any preconceived ideas. All I've heard over and over again since this book has been released is how it is even better, even greater than the original. How people loved it just that much more. (I was expecting it to be a WoW book; one that just was so incredibly amazingly good that I wouldn't know what to do with myself.) So I think my expectations were just a tiny bit too high. That being said, I still loved it.

This second book, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, picks up soon after the original concludes. The Penderwick family consists of: Mr. Penderwick (dad), Rosalind, Skye, Jane, Batty and Hound. The family has returned home. School has begun. Life is going on as usual...mostly. [They do have a new neighbor on their street. A single woman (widow) with a small child of her own.] Each child has their own drama going on; each has their own story line. One that weaves them all together (in a way) is the fact that their dad has started dating again. Each of the girls is a bit worried about that. Worried that he'll find someone he'll like. Worried that he'll find someone to marry. So they're not content to mind their own business. Lots of MOP meetings going on. Lots of schemes--some successful, some foiled.

I enjoyed this one. I did. I liked how the dad was able to fool everyone into thinking he was dating a "Marianne Dashwood." I liked the story of Jane and Skye. How they exchanged homework assignments with some rather unforeseen results. I loved Jane in general.

I enjoyed this book because I loved the characters. I loved the narrative. I loved how Birdsall wrote the story. The narrative voices. The language. The style. But I didn't love this one because of the plot. The plot was just incidental. I didn't like this plot more than the other. Didn't find it greater than the original. This novel is great because the characters are great. And that's the same way I felt about the first book. Neither book's plots stood out as amazing to me. But the characters did. So I loved both books.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

Jennifer, Snapshot 11:36 AM  

I haven't read much buzz about this book. Having thought the Pederwicks to be excellent (!!), I was waiting for it to come out.

Did I like this second one more? No. Like you said, the writing and characterization are great, but I still think that I like the first one much better. It's still a book that I recommend over and over again.

Melissa 2:27 PM  

I've had that happen to me many times: you wait and hear wonderful things, and when you finally get around to reading it, it's just not as good as you were expecting.

That said, I think I liked this one as much as the first... not better, but I don't think I liked the first one better, either. It's what you said: I like it for the characters, and since the characters were the same, I liked them both equally. :)

Carrie K. 2:00 PM  

I just ordered this after reading the first book aloud to my kids. We loved it - for the characters more than anything, so I have a feeling we'll still enjoy the sequel.

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
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  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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