Sunday, July 8, 2012

Peggy Parsons at Prep School (Review)

Title: Peggy Parsons at Prep School
Author: Annabel Sharp
Publication Information: M.A. Donohue & Company, 1915
Genre: American Girls’ School Story
Plot:  Peggy is a vivid girl with brown-gold hair, laughing black eyes, and cheeks that are red through their tan.  She makes friends easily and loves a midnight feast and (although academics are rarely mentioned in such novels) at one point she writes an essay that is praised by her English teacher.  This is her first year at the Andrews and as an orphan she is dependent on the generosity of an aunt.  Peggy goes from one scrape to another, always running afoul of the stern headmistress, tossing a rosebush on a serenading Glee Club from prestigious Amherst College, spending so long primping that she is left behind from a school outing, and getting lost in a blizzard (see cover).  However, her kindness in visiting a lonely old gentlemen, presumed indigent by the neighborhood, results in a valuable friendship.  Naturally, once I knew that the old gentleman was estranged from his daughter and grandson, I expected Peggy would engineer a reunion and was not disappointed.

What I liked: The author manages to incorporate some delightful boarding school traditions in this book: handsome college men serenading dormitory rooms, bacon bats, theatre excursions, trips to dances at Annapolis, and best of all – fudge!

“Let’s have all the girls we can pack into the room in for a midnight celebration,” suggested Katherine as soon as they had flung off their coats in their own room.

“Good girl,” chirruped Peggy.  “About ten people – our most special own crowd.  Hurry up and be ready for dinner – and is there any butter out on the window ledge?
Katherine craned her eager head out of the window into the cold. “Not a bit,” she said.  “We have a can of condensed milk left, though.”

“Fine,” cried Peggy, counting off on her fingers the butter, the sugar, and the alcohol – “for I don’t think suppose there is any alcohol, is there, friend infant?”

“’Fraid not,” sighed Katherine.

From this an outsider might suppose that the girls were planning to concoct some sort of intoxicating beverage for their innocent little midnight party.  But it was only the preliminary preparation for the inevitable fudge.  And the alcohol was to run the chafing-dish, and not to go into it.

What I disliked: Alas, the book was very predictable and the characters were not well developed.  In addition, for a poor orphan Peggy was warm hearted but heedless, asking her aunt to send her to college regardless of expense.  She didn't do very much to earn her good fortune.

SequelPeggy Parsons, A Hampton Freshman is available via Project Guttenberg

Source: I bought this book many years ago but I don’t remember where.  In addition to my long-standing interest in school stories, I was probably intrigued because my godmother’s name was Peggy Parsons.


Ms. Yingling said...

The really fabulous thing about a Nook is all of the vintage lit that I can find... now for time to read it. I'm halfway through an L. Frank Baum book called Aunt Jane's Nieces that is in the style of Louisa May Alcott. I'm really enjoying it!

CLM said...

Those Aunt Jane's Nieces are very rare! I only own one although I have kept my eyes out for years (I guess one can buy them expensively online). Thanks for letting me know. I have not yet broken down and bought an ereader but it may happen.