Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Review: The Penderwicks at Last

The Penderwicks at Last The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

9 July 2021

Birdsall does a lovely job of writing an old-fashioned sort of children's book. As wish-fulfillment for a perfectly happy childhood with the sort of family one wants to have, they're exactly right. This one has less plot and fewer adventures, but it feels true to Lydia's different sort of life. And after the catharsis of Spring going out on a high, light note feels just right.

6 June 2018

Aaaahhhhh. Very drawn-out sigh of satisfaction. I have just finished the fifth and final Penderwick novel. Previously I had noted how very old-fashioned the books felt: a sort of 20th-century nevertime with cars and phones and computers, but in which plot rarely if ever includes them. I mention this because it was less true in Penderwicks in Spring, and not true at all in Penderwicks at Last. No one watches tv still, but camera phones are integral.

One of the most satisfying conclusions I’ve ever read. Birdsall doesn’t try to tie up every last end, but she does suggest how the future might go. The reader is free to pick the path they like best.

A note on characterization: I like the adults Birdsall creates. She manages to keep them offstage in order for the kids to have freedom, but she does it without ever suggesting that they are neglectful. The emphasis, and the attention, and the really painstaking work goes into making the children vibrant and real and plausible. Well, okay, some of the attention goes to the critters, and oh! for fans of the dogs, this is a rich book indeed.

Heretofore I have reserved the Beloved shelf for books I have read and adored at least twice. There is no question that I will be reading the entire set again, probably many times, and that this final volume will be at least as beloved as the first, and maybe even more.

Library copy

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