You might remember my fondness of Maud Hart Lovelace. It was just over a year ago that we were introduced. Her writing tells the story of a simpler time-the early 1900's, and I just love it!
The Betsy-Tacy series just wasn't enough for readers, and I am so excited to share about Betsy's friend Carney and a book of her own! Carney's House Party is not part of the Betsy-Tacy books. It is one of the Deep Valley books, taking place right in the same town as the Betsy-Tacy books and with many of the same characters, newly republished by Harper Collins Perennials.
Maud Hart Lovelace always wanted to be a writer, and after telling and retelling stories from her own childhood to her daughter Merian, she began writing the Betsy-Tacy books. These books are fiction, though closely based on her own life in Minnesota. Since Maud didn't go to college, she wasn't comfortable sending Betsy to college, so instead, she sent Carney!!
In the first book in this two-book volume, Carney's House Party, Caroline (or Carney) Sibley has just completed her sophomore year at Vassar College in 1911. She returns to Deep Valley for the summer. Carney hesitantly invites her roommate from back East, Isobel, who will stay with her for a month of summer. Then her old friends, Bonnie and Betsy, are able to come visit, too! So Carney has a house party!
Their summer in Deep Valley is wonderful and filled with parties, fun, and fudge. Carney's high school sweetheart returns for a visit after four long years apart. Though they corresponded frequently, they need to see each other to see if marriage is in their future. In the meantime, a rich, young man named Sam becomes part of the crowd and Betsy and Isobel become quite friendly with him, even though he reminds Carney of a baby hippo!
With Carney's House Party taking place over just a summer, as I read, I felt that the characters were well-developed. The ending was not what I expected, but I was not disappointed either. I was happily surprised.
Carney's House Party was enjoyable and gratifying to read. Really, I didn't want to put it down! I really enjoyed Carney, Betsy, and the crowd all grown up. The Sibley family has its own unique values, traditions, and daily life. They were still fun, and there was plenty of teasing; after all, most of the characters are familiar from the Betsy-Tacy books. Carney's House Party is not from Betsy's point-of-view, so it is definitely different.
The girls attend college, and despite thoughts of engagements, intend to complete their schooling. Isobel and Carney don't always understand one another's ways, but they remain friends and get along well enough. (I never knew that breakfast, lunch, and dinner vs. breakfast, dinner, and supper were regional terms! We happen to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner OR supper. Except on Sundays. On Sundays our noon meal is dinner.) Carney is truly a sweet character, and I am thankful that Maud Hart Lovelace devoted an entire book to her.
Once again, there is a lot to learn about the early 1900's from reading Maud Hart Lovelace's work. When I read Heaven to Betsy, I noticed how MHL was able to weave history (especially of the Mid-West...or the Middle West, as Carney prefers to call it) into the story in a fascinating, yet subtle way. This time, there is a reference to women's suffrage, and even to the Mona Lisa's theft from the Louvre. "She (Isobel) was too much like that smiling and inscrutable Mona Lisa who had been stolen last month from the Louvre Museum in Paris." Throughout the book there were references to another book called The Little Colonel, which intrigued me, as well.
The second Deep Valley book in this volume is Winona's Pony Cart. Winona Root is a wealthy friend of Betsy and Tacy. She is also a bit spoiled and about to have her eighth birthday. She brags to her friends that she is going to get a pony for her birthday. Winona is able to send out fifteen birthday invitations. Without talking to her parents, she invites twice as many friends to the party! When the time for the party arrives, Winona still hasn't told her parents that more kids will be coming.
Though Mr. Root has said no to giving his daughter a pony, he arranges for a pony to come to the party. It proves to be quite entertaining for all the children. Winona's Pony Cart gives a bit of a look into another child's life and of course, Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are still a three-some while being friends with Winona, too.
Though I didn't relate to Winona as much as Maud Hart Lovelace's other characters, this was still an enjoyable book. Winona was a bit of a brat at times, but she did get over herself, too, even if she had her way in the end.
If you are a fan of Maud Hart Lovelace and have not yet explored the Deep Valley books, I definitely recommend them! I will be reading Emily of Deep Valley very soon and can't wait to share it with you!
Big thanks to Harper Perennial for sending me this volume for review and for republishing them!!
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