Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Lauren Baratz-Logsted's latest novel, set in Victorian England, is a delight. Baratz-Logsted has taken a commonly used plot--a girl masquerading as a boy--and breathed new life into it with Bet's determined and lively impersonation of her foster brother, Will, and readers won't be able to resist looking up to the way she stands up to the bullies of her school and looks out for the boys that get picked on, even as she is made a target herself. The characters are well defined and memorable: Will is a lovable, if not mischievous, foster brother whose wit and smarts will keep readers laughing, and James is a rather interesting (and a bit dreamy) character who proves that not all boys Bet meets at school are pigs, and the romance between him and Bet is sweet.
Another really great element to the story that gives it some extra depth is Bet's struggle with her station in life. She has always felt slightly below the Gardeners, but above the servants, and has felt the discomfort of not knowing where she stands with her benefactor and the mystery of her father really was. Baratz-Logsted handles this issue well, and the resolution, though not perfect, is plausible and believable. All of these things together have ensures that The Education of Bet is a lively and humorous novel with a lot of heart.
Cover Comments: I do like this cover a lot, though it does seem that it is more early 20th century than late 19th century Victorian. That's a detail that may escape many readers, and the general prettiness of the cover will attract many eyes anyway!
ARC received from publisher.