I first saw The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place at Barnes & Noble over the holidays. I made a request at the library, and the book arrived. Things were hectic, and I didn’t get around to reading more than the first chapter before it was time to return the book. I was very sad about this, but I didn’t want to run up fines- that dime a day adds up quickly! When I received my monthly Audible credit, I didn’t even hesitate before buying The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.
This novel straddles both the middle grade and the young adult genre. It was written by Julie Berry and narrated by Jayne Entwistle. The story opens in the waning days of the Victorian era. Seven young ladies are enjoying Sunday dinner- or rather, they are watching Mrs. Plackett, their headmistress and her n’er do well brother Mr. Godding enjoying the veal that they prepared. This is what happens every Sunday, but on this particular Sunday, something different happens: the two adults drop dead in front of them.
Now, the natural thing to do would be to alert the authorities, but the girls realize that this would lead to the closing of the school. They would be separated from each other, and sent home to their families. They don’t particularly want to go home to their families, and they decide that it would be jolly good fun to conceal the deaths and continue to live in the house as if nothing had happened.
This plan is put to the test almost immediately when guests arrive for a surprise party for Mr. Godding. Guests must be distracted, and the girls have to scramble to keep their secret from being exposed.
At first things are very farcical and light, but they quickly realize that they are implicating themselves as more time elapses. And if the two adults did not die of natural causes, is it possible that one of them will be the next victim?
The seven girls have unique personalities, and in order to tell all seven of them apart, each has been labeled with an adjective describing her personality: Smooth Kitty is a natural leader, Disgraceful Mary Jane is a natural flirt, and Dour Elinor has an unnatural interest in death and the dead. This nomenclature helps to differentiate the girls, and it is especially useful in the chaotic beginning of the book.
I absolutely loved The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. It was delightfully biting in its critique of Victorian society, and I just loved Berry’s wry sense of humor. I also want to mention that I loved Jayne Entwistle’s enthusiastic performance, and her work in bringing each girl’s unique personality to life. I would recommend The Scandalous Sisterhood to readers of all ages. Those who love children’s literature, school stories, the Victorian era, mysteries, and comedies of manners will surely enjoy this book.