19/12/2013

Clover (by Susan Coolidge)

Although I first came across Susan Coolidge when I was six (and given one of her books) I had no idea until recently that her classic series about the Carr family (beginning with 'What Katy Did') had more than three books. However since they were written at the end of the 19th century they are all out of print, and thus available free from Project Gutenberg (and elsewhere) for the Kindle and other devices.

'Clover' is the fourth in the series,. Following on from 'What Katy Did Next' it begins with the preparations for Katy's wedding to Ned. Katy wants everything as simple as possible, and her family are willing to comply.

However, this book is about Clover, second in the family, and after Katy's wedding the oldest 'Miss Carr'.  The bulk of the book is about Clover travelling to Colorado with Phil, youngest of the family. He is a teenager but quite sickly, and his father wants him to have some good mountain air.  So the two travel into the unknown - albeit accompanied initially by friends - and take up residence in a small town called St Helen's.  There's a lot of observation of scenery which I skimmed, but I particularly enjoyed a few amusing passages with Mrs Watson, a querulous elderly lady who was supposed to be helping the two young people... but who turns out to be more of a burden than a blessing.

It's (unsurprisingly) rather dated by now, so it makes good social history; even when written it would have been quite educational, describing as it does the features of Colorado that are so new and exciting to Clover and Phil, as seen through their eyes.

I have no idea why it was not in print when I was younger as it's a pleasant read, even though Katy does not feature heavily, but she appears more than once and I liked catching up with her, so to speak. I quite enjoyed getting to know Clover in her own right too, and was pleased when several young men start to pay attention to her, later in the book.

I assume that this was originally intended for teenagers, but suspect that nowadays it's of more interest to adults like me who grew up reading the 'Katy' trilogy and always hoped for more.

Definitely best to have read the 'Katy' books first, but for anyone who has read and liked them, I would certainly recommend this. Note that the links above are to paperback versions - it has at last been reprinted in book form - but there are several editions of the e-book of 'Clover' available at Amazon and elsewhere, mostly free.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews.


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