Wednesday, November 6, 2013

We Think Patty Means Well...

Published:  February 27th, 2009 (First Published in 1911)
Just Patty (Patty #2)
By: Jean Webster
Project Gutenberg

Patty and her two roommates from last year are back in school. And they're upset School administration is trying to break up their dream team

"It's a shame " says Priscilla.

"It's an outrage " says Conny.

"It's an insult " says Patty.

"To separate us now after we've been together three years --"

"And it isn't as though we were "awfully" bad last year. Lots of girls had more demerits."

"Only our badness was sort of conspicuous," Patty admitted.

"But we were "very" good the last three weeks," reminded Conny.

Don't worry, they'll work around it. And raise more heck this year than ever before. . .


     Patty and her two best friends Conny and Priscilla are appalled when they find out they've been separated as roommates for their senior year at Saint Ursula's boarding school.  Patty will not let it stand and the girls come up with schemes to go back to rooming with one another.  The book follows Conny, Priscilla, Patty and their schoolmates (but mostly Patty) through their senior year.  It's a series of vignettes about friendship, mischief and growing up in the early 1900s.
     When I downloaded this for my Kindle (it's free on Amazon as part of Project Gutenberg), I had already read  Daddy Long-Legs and Dear Enemy.  Jean Webster has a pretty sharp sense of humor and writes wonderfully relatable heroines, that put me in mind of L.M. Montgomery (only with some extra snarkiness, versus dreaminess) and her Anne series.  I thought about reading When Patty Goes to College first since it was written before this one, but decided to go in chronological order by the actual setting of the book.  I normally am not a huge fan of books told in short story/vignette form, but this one really was a pretty good book when it comes down to it.
     Patty is an absolute lightning rod for mischief and makes it a habit to deliberately misinterpret things that people say to her or instruct her to do - with mostly hilarious results.  The other two girls are in the mischief with her, but Patty is most definitely the ringleader!  There were some that were almost entirely humorous, like the incident where Patty and the girls strike for better/more equal treatment in Latin class, and the incident with one of the girls having a fake beau (boyfriend) to hurt another girl's feelings (Patty takes care of that one with some pretty funny antics).  But there were also stories like the one where Patty is stuck at school for Christmas and decides to help a lonely and out of place student who feels abandoned have a meaningful holiday.  Also, the incident with the prank where Patty accidentally encounters a real burglar and finds him a job when she goes trespassing on a grumpy, reclusive millionaire's property.  Patty always means well, even when she's trying to get around doing things that she should (like studying to make up an exam that she misses).
     Overall I was impressed with this book and felt like the overall tone to it avoided the malicious spirit that books centered around pranks and boarding schools tend to have on occasion (whether by accident or design, things do move in that direction quite often).  I am only sorry that Jean Webster died at such a young age, with so much potential to be a classic children's writer in the collective consciousness instead of nearly forgotten, as I feel she is in our present day.  Also interesting to note is that Jean Webster was Mark Twain's grandniece.  Who knows maybe his famous snark is some of the reason she manages mischief so admirably in her own novels!  I highly recommend this one, especially for fans of classic books along the lines of Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, or the Betsy-Tacy series.  My only real complaint is that I wish there were more to this book.  It felt far too short, especially with the story Webster chose to end on.

VERDICT:  4.5/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available mostly  in used bookstores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

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