Monday, 22 February 2016

Loved Anne of Green Gables? Try this!

USA Writer
Laura Amy Schlitz
The Hired Girl
Walker Books 2016  $29.99hb 389pp
ISBN 978 1 4063 6140 7
Themes:  Baltimore 1911/ Diaries/ Jewish family life/ Love stories/ Pennsylvania - rural life 1911/ Religion/ Roman Catholic Faith

Joan Skraggs is fourteen but she answers to eighteen and she longs for elegance and respectability.  She is locked in what seems like an inescapable mire of never ending domesticity and servitude to a family (hers) of what must be the most ungrateful, unpleasant and frankly grimy group of men to ever come off the pages of a book for children and young people. When she finds herself in an elegant house in Baltimore as the ‘hired help’ to a particularly outgoing Jewish family, the contrast could not be greater. Through the pages of Joan’s diary where she really does pour out her heart, the reader sees the prejudices and outlooks of the American society of 1911 where everyone is supposed to know their place.
There has been a lengthy controversy about some of the attitudes in this book and it is worth following the discussion – just Google The Hired Girl.
Readers who loved Anne of Green Gables and other books of that ilk will revel in the pages of this oh-so-readable story. I will be really interested to see how it issues in schools and in public libraries
Laura Amy Schlitz Image Walker Books
Year 8 up/ Age 12 up

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