The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a delightfully macabre Victorian tale.
seven students at St. Ethelreda's School for Young Ladies have little
in common, but one thing they all agree on is that they don't care much
for their headmistress Constance Plackett, and even less for her oily
brother Aldous Golding. So, when both headmistress and brother drop dead
over Sunday dinner, the girls mostly feel a mild regret that they will
be split up -- for, despite their differences, they all get along quite
well together. And then, they hit upon an idea: what if they were to
bury the corpses in the back garden and just . . . carry on? Of course,
this plan doesn't take into account Mr. Golding's surprise birthday
party, or the visit from Mrs. Plackett's solicitor, or the Strawberry
Social. Not to mention that it's hardly coincidence that both Mrs.
Plackett and Mr. Golding dropped dead at the same meal. Poison was
almost certainly involved, but who administered it? Was it Disgraceful
Mary Jane Marshall, seeing a way to escape the strictures of boarding
school life? Smooth Kitty Heaton, who proves to be such a competent
organizer when Mrs. Plackett is out of the way? Dour Elinor Siever, with
her unhealthy fascination with death? Or was it someone from outside
the school? Who could it be -- and why?
This book is a delightful
romp. I had so much fun reading it. I particularly enjoyed how the
author differentiated the girls by using their adjectives (i.e.
Disgraceful Mary Jane, not just Mary Jane) throughout -- that was by no
means the sum of their characters, but it proved a useful method for
keeping all of them straight in my head. The mystery was clever and by
no means obvious, and the little romances were charming side-notes to
the story. If this sounds like your sort of thing, you should give it a
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)