29/08/2012

What Katy Did at School (by Susan Coolidge)

I first came across Susan Coolidge when I was six, and read all three of the main 'Katy' books as a child, again as a teen, and probably at least twice as an adult. However I had not read any of them for at least a decade, so decided to get hold of free Kindle versions as they are long out of copyright.

'What Katy Did at School' is the first sequel to 'What Katy Did', which I read just recently. This volume features a year when Katy, aged 16 and now recovered from her long illness, goes to a boarding school for a year with her sister Clover. There they meet the fascinating and rather daring Rose Red, and find themselves involved in various scrapes, not all of which were their fault in any way.

There's very little about the actual education in the school, although presumably it happens. The story is character-based, so there is a great deal about the girls and their various friendships. The author's cultural biases of the era come through rather clearly, seeing flirting with the boys' college next door as being decidedly unladylike, and causing Katy to form a society that considers itself above such things.

There are some mildly amusing parts of this story, but reading it again, my main impression is of what seems like very interesting American social history. The book was first published in 1873, so was contemporary about 140 years ago.

I had forgotten most of the anecdotes and very much enjoyed re-reading this classic on my Kindle. I'm not sure it would appeal to today's teenagers, but older children might like it, and it's certainly worth re-reading by those of us who remember it fondly from our own childhood.

Recommended. It stands alone, but would be better read after 'What Katy Did'.

Note that the Amazon links are to paperback versions of this book; there are many other possible editions available, including free Kindle e-books.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 29th August 2012

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