Patty Fairfield

“Your Aunt Isabel is, but no, I won’t tell you anything about your relatives. You may discover their faults and virtues for yourself. Most of all, my child, you will need to cultivate your sense of proportion. Do you know what proportion means?”(Carolyn Wells, Patty Fairfield)

Although this book has a slightly belabored moral point, (how to gain a moderate sense of proportion) I found it very true to life. Patty Fairfield goes to visit four different sets of relatives, with four completely different ways of living. Although she knows that the first family is too gaudy, the second family is overly intellectual, and the third too scattered, she still falls in with each family’s daily rhythm simply because that’s what she’s surrounded by. People, and especially children, generally copy what they see, and can be turned from sweet to sour by long subjection to certain environments. This truthful undercurrent to the book helped to make even the most absurd family practices entirely forgivable, if not plausible.

The book was such a lovely specimen of girl’s literature that I can’t wait to read more – I only wish that I had the actual books to curl up with instead of a bright screen and Project Gutenberg. I especially love how Alice in Wonderland was referred to as a new book and learning how to sew as a child as ‘a little old fashioned’.

Beverage: One might try having an imaginary cup of ‘real’ Russian tea, as Patty does in a particularly delightful scene. But if imagination won’t do the trick, I’m sure some English breakfast would.

Reminds me… strangely enough, of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. Although Japanese anime and girls literature from the 1900’s don’t appear to have much in common, both make excellent use of children’s natural impulse to copy what they see.

* Thanks so much to for this book recommendation! *


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