Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hetty Feather

Hetty FeatherWilson, Jacqueline. Hetty Feather
8 October 2009,  Doubleday Childrens'

Abandoned at the Foundling Hospital when an infant, Hetty has an amazing recollection of her whole life. She is sent to be fostered in the country, where she connects with her foster brother Jem, as well as other foundlings Gideon, Saul and Eliza. Sent back to the hospital at the age of five, she finds life there oppressive. The matrons are mean, except for Ida, who gives her sugar and coddles her as much as possible. Hetty, who has bright red hair, longs for her foster home as well as for her mother, who at one point seems to be a circus acrobat.  She eventually finds her mother, but disastrous consequences occur.

Sapphire BatterseaWilson, Jacqueline. Sapphire Battersea
29 September 2012, Doubleday Childrens'

At the age of fourteen, Hetty is released from the hospital and goes into service. At the urging of author and hospital board member Miss Smith, she is employed by Mr. Buchanan, an author, as maid of all work under the supervision of Mrs. Briskett. She longs for her mother as well as for her foster brother Jem, but now she can write to both of them. Desperate for stamps, she approaches Mr. Buchanan and offers to help him with his writing, copying over his stories. She also shows him her memoirs. Eventually, She runs afoul of Buchanan and is kicked out without a reference. She travels to find her mother, who is dying of consumption. Hetty manages to do well for herself at a seaside show of curiosities, but when her mother dies, she knows she must go and find her father. 

Emerald StarWilson, Jacqueline. Emerald Star
27 September 2013, Doubleday Childrens'

Armed with scant information about her father, Hetty travels north to find her father. Amazingly, she does, although his wife is less than pleased. She passes some time with them uneasily before getting word from her foster brother that his father has passed away. Hetty returns to her foster home to find that few remember her, and that her foster mother is gravely ill. She settles into a routine life there with Jem, kindly neighbor girl Janet, and foster brother Gideon, who has been badly injured in the military. Often discontent, Hetty finally finds her true home.

Don't want to give away some of the twists, so sorry if reviews seem incomplete.

Strengths: Feisty main character Hetty is used to good effect to point out all of the difficulties of life in Victorian England for girls in the lower class. Lots of research. Fans of Anne of Green Gables will be drawn to Hetty and her amazing adventures! Definitely pair this with the nonfiction book Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London.
Weaknesses: Things work awfully smoothly for Hetty, and I felt old when I realized that today, if I met her for the first time, Anne Shirley would annoy me. Hetty seems not to understand her place at all, and while there were times when I wanted to slap her, if I were reading these books at the age of 12, I would be cheering her on!

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