Friday, April 11, 2008

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters

This is a lovely book. The story of a shy girl who loves to read and uses a vocabulary sourced from dictionaries to hold people at arms' length. She is trying to escape from the very long shadow of her mother, who is a famous concert pianist and finds friendship with a story-telling, dictionary-loving, captivating traveler-about-the-world who moves in to the next-door apartment in her brownstone in New York City.

There's something old-fashioned and reassuring about this book; the four Somerset sisters roam the world and have fantastic adventures. At the same time, it is a very nice portrait of what it feels like for Cornelia to be growing up awkward and alone, and then finding someone who sees the beauty and wonder that's been there all the time. And I loved the descriptions of Virginia Somerset's apartment (each room decorated to recreate her travels - a living room that is a Moroccan palace, a library from Paris, a bedroom designed after her time in Bombay, complete with bed enclosed by white, flowing draperies.)

Also, good character names. Virginia's black French bulldog is Mister Kinyatta; Cornelia's mother's opera-singer friend is the Howling Dog; and the Somerset sisters' four French bulldogs are Monsieur Un, Deux, Trois and Quatre.

In knitting progress, I'm 3/4 done with one sock and re-working the left front of the Minimalist Cardigan. Pictures maybe tomorrow.

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