The Story Girl before it really grabbed me. At first I thought it was because I had a hard time connecting with childish ways of thinking and talking, but that doesn't make sense since I loved Betsy-Tacy. Then I thought it might be for lack of plot. The book follows half a dozen children through their summer activities and is interwoven with the tales told by the enchanting Sara Stanley. Cousin, Beverly King, and his brother Felix are visiting for the summer and Bev is the narrator/onlooker of interactions between siblings Felicity, Cecily and Daniel, as well as the hired boy Peter, and two neighbor girls, Sara Ray and, of course "the Story Girl."
The more I read it, the more I grew attached to the characters. I appreciated their very honest, child-like opinions and their questions about faith and prayer. This was not the tacked-on religiosity of most Christian novels. These children were brought up in a time when respectable families attended church, and when the adults around them discussed these things. It was very natural for them to parrot the grown-ups while at the same time pondering the truths behind their words and practices. Delightful biblical allusions are sprinkled throughout such as when one of the aunts "brings tidings of great joy" at Peter's recovery from illness and Beverly responds by saying they had been "given beauty for ashes."
Although fourteen-year old Felicity is the clear favorite with the boys for her beauty and her cooking ability, the (much plainer) Story Girl captivates them with her charm. I cannot describe [her voice.] wrote Beverly. If voices had colors, hers would have been like a rainbow. It made words live.
Which brings me to another highlight of the book - its lovely writing.
Haylofts are delicious places, with just enough shadow and soft, uncertain noises to give an agreeable tang of mystery.
The rain was weeping on the roof as if it were shedding the tears of old sorrows.
The Story Girl sighed again. She loved expressive words, and treasured them as some girls might have treasured jewels. To her, they were as lustrous pearls, threaded on the crimson cord of a vivid fancy.
And I can't fail to mention the gentle humor: I don't suppose your Aunt Jane knew all the rules of etiquette, said Felicity, designing to crush Peter with a big word. But Peter was not to be so crushed. He had in him a certain toughness of fiber, that would have been proof against a whole dictionary.
This was a thoroughly delightful book and I look forward to plunging into its sequel, The Golden Road. (Both the books I've linked to are free for Kindle.)