The Fledgling

By Elizabeth Cadell

This is the story of a journey of a most formidable and inscrutable 10-year-old girl. Tory lives a lonely restricted life with her elderly aunts and equally elderly governess in an ancient castle in Lisbon. Her widowed and still grieving father, whom she hardly knows, decides she must go to school in England to gain some balance in her life. On the way to England, she discovers her chaperone is a nasty drunk and a thief. They are together on a train until he “somehow” leaves the train in pursuit of his luggage he “somehow” thinks has been mistakenly off-loaded by the porter. Tory makes her way to London contentedly alone and, safely in her care, is a priceless gold figurine that had been stolen by the man from the chapel of her aunts.

She is to stop over with her father’s cousin, for a day, before making her way north to her boarding school. Phillipa is lively and lovely as well as frank to a fault. She is forthright and open and she wastes no time expressing her justified disapproval of Tory’s father and his failings as a parent. Even though, or maybe because Tory is quiet and prefers to watch and listen, she immediately feels a kinship and rapport with this distant cousin. Because of her trust and confidence, she confides in her about the figurine which she had meant to keep secret until she could get it back to Portugal. This sets off a chain of events that extends her stay with Phillipa and brings her father back from South America. She becomes acquainted with a boy and his dog, a wicked old lady, a nice old lady, and a suspicious but upright highly placed government official. To further add to the mix, both her father and the stern official both used to be engaged to the charming Phillipa. And Phillipa is still in love with one of them.

This is a thoroughly delightful novel starring one of the most intriguing children I have run across in a book. Let’s just say it would not be wise to oppose her. By the end of the book the people Tory likes or loves are happy and the ones she does not like are not happy. Her future is bright with the promise of newfound freedom and a new family.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

November 15, 2021

The Corner Shop

By Elizabeth Cadell

I remember reading Elizabeth Cadell with a great deal of nostalgia. I recently finished re-reading her Waynes of Wood Mount series, and that pretty much satisfied my urge to revisit Cadell’s thoroughly English old-timey romances but for a blog I ran across which glowing reviewed this one. I actually happened to run across this title while looking for another book in my library, and decided to re-read it. What a delight. The characters were deftly sketched, and the romance with the unusual love interest was so sweet and charming. The mystery filled out the plot nicely. This is my favorite title by Cadell, as far as I can remember. The only thing I found less than satisfactory was the planned resolution to two secondary characters futures. It was awkward and just wrong. I hope it works out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

June 3, 2017

Six Impossible Things

by Elizabeth Cadell

“I’ve said I want to marry you,” ended Joey doggedly…Well, what d’you say?” “The answer,” said Miss Stocker without hesitation, “is no….“Look, in the whole of my life, I never once said to a woman what I’ve just said to you.” “Then you’re lucky. If you had, you might have got your face slapped more often.”

Thank you for all those compliments you paid me, that brought the blushes to my cheek. Thank you for all that poetry you read out about my charms. Thank you for screwing yourself up to the point of overlooking my deficiencies, and persuading yourself that I’d do as well as anybody else to carry up your cupper tea in the morning and make you a hot meal at night. Thank you for nothing.”

This was a worthy conclusion to the Wayne family trilogy bolstered by some laugh out loud scenes (The Proposal), a few pages of mystery and suspense (the Disappearing Bridegroom), nice character arcs (Marian and Lady Templesby,) and an evil villain to love to hate (Kenneth.) I was disappointed that Simon, my favorite character in The Lark Shall Sing, did not make an appearance. However, this was Julia’s story, as well as Nicholas, and I liked her almost as much. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

July 2, 2016

The Blue Sky of Spring

by Elizabeth Cadell

..but life was too full—she decided—to worry about whether you looked like a monkey or whether you didn’t. It didn’t matter much until you grew up and wanted to stun some man into marrying you.

A continuation of the gentle English romance and chronicle of the Wayne family of the 1950’s and 60’s. There was a difficult and disturbing scene involving the lovable family dog that struck a discordant note. It ended on a bitter-sweet chord, though we know there is a third book in the series for all to find their happy endings. I didn’t enjoy the main couple as much as the first one. I was annoyed by Estelle, and thought she treated both of the men who loved her rather shabbily due to her wimpiness. First, because she didn’t want to hurt Nicholas, and ended up prolonging his pain, and then kept Cliff hanging way too long and only committed when he finally got tired of waiting for her and told her he was moving on. She was lucky to get him. He was way too good for her.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

June 27, 2016

The Lark Shall Sing

By Elizabeth Cadell

This is a Charming and humorous story of a 1950’s English family in the country trying to stay a family in their beloved home. The oldest sister and head of the family (upon the loss of their parents) almost ruins her life and the lives of her 5 siblings by trying to sell the house and marrying a man totally wrong for her. Luckily, the rest of the family refuses to be bossed and split up. With the help of some “benefactors” along the way, who themselves need a family, everyone finds their hearts desire. Each of the brothers and sisters, and our heroine, Lucille, are very well drawn, interesting and likable. This gentle story has a few laugh out loud moments and some touching ones. It is followed by two sequels, in which, I trust, all of the boys and girls find their destinies.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

June 12, 2016