by Laura Amy Schlitz
389 pages of wonder, spirits and trickery that will have middle grade readers turning page after page in amazement.
After I had finished reading Splendors and Glooms, I kept thinking about it – the characters, the setting, the plot. I kept smelling the smells and feeling the feelings, both real and emotional. The writing stayed with me and so I began exploring and several different people suggested I read A Drowned Maiden’s Hair. They thought of it as their Laura Amy Schlitz favorite. So of course I gave it a try – wow!
Maud is a strong willed child. She’s feisty and very likely to defy Miss Kitterage, the orphanage’s director. That is why on the day that the elderly Hawthorne sisters come to the Barbary Asylum for Female Orphans they find Maud locked in the outhouse singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic. At once Maud is the child for them and they whisk her away to a new life, unlike any she has ever known or imagined. Maud is entranced by Hyacinth, the youngest sister at 70. She is fearful of the elder and stern Judith and troubled by argumentative Victoria. Still she becomes the Hawthorne sisters’ secret child. She is hidden away and must make sure she is never seen by outsiders. She learns to hide at a moments notice. She learns to speak clearly and prettily. She learns endless manners and along with the secrets of the family spiritualism business – they run seances. When Maud has practiced enough to be deemed worthy, she becomes the centerpiece in an elaborate sham designed to get the Hawthorne sisters everything they need and want. Maud, however, is not sure how she fits in to their plan or their future. What at first seems an innocent game, soon becomes tedious, treacherous and cruel.
How far will a person go to know forgiveness and feel love? In reading A Drowned Maiden’s Hair you’ll begin to imagine depths of grief, loneliness, greed, compassion and wonder in ways you hadn’t even thought of before. Better than Splendors and Glooms – I don’t know about that, but I am certain it’s just as wonderful. Enjoy this delicious book from cover to cover.