A Little Country Girl (by Susan Coolidge)

I very much enjoyed the 'Katy' series by Susan Coolidge when I was a child, and later as a teen and adult. So I was delighted when I discovered several other books by this author available free (since they are out of copyright) for my Kindle.

'A Little Country Girl' is set towards the end of the 19th century, in the US. Orphaned Candace, who is 16 and a countrified innocent, goes to stay with her mother's cousin for the summer, and gets to know her three second cousins, girls of similar ages. Unsurprisingly they are all shocked at her dowdy clothes and lack of society manners, but Candace has a sweet, teachable nature and provides something of a breath of fresh air in her new surroundings.

It's remarkably similar in outline to Louisa M Alcott's novel 'An Old-fashioned girl', a book I have loved since I first read it. Presumably this was a popular theme in that era, but unfortunately Coolidge's version was not so well-written or emotive and it was hard not to compare it somewhat negatively.

Still, it's a nice story. There's perhaps a tad too much moralising, although this was not unusual for a writer of this period writing for older children. The characters were all somewhat stereotyped too, but at least it made it easy to distinguish them. I was particularly impressed by the way that the word 'discipline' was used in its correct sense of giving a gentle explanation to help someone learn.

I can see why this book has never had the kind of popularity that the better-known 'Katy' series has, but it was free for my Kindle, and made pleasant breakfast-time reading.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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