And Then I Read: THE PENDERWICKS AT LAST by Jeanne Birdsall

Cover art by Yvonne Gilbert.

This is the fifth and final book in a very enjoyable series of family stories that I am not at all the target audience for, except that I like good stories. It began with “The Penderwicks” in 2005, and each book has been a delight. At first it was four smart sisters and their widowed father on vacation in a small house on the grounds of a large estate, Arundel. Each sister has a unique personality and interests, all are fascinating characters, and the boy they meet at Arundel, Jeffrey, is quite interesting as well. (Some have compared them to the four March sisters and Laurie from Alcott’s “Little Women,” but of course much more of today.)

Forward to the fifth book, and we are again back in Arundel for a wedding. There are two more Penderwick children from their father’s second marriage, and the viewpoint character is Lydia, the youngest at age nine. Her obsession is dancing, and her brother Ben’s is filmmaking, adding to Batty’s love of music, Rosalind’s gardening and sewing, Skye’s math, and Jane’s writing. They’re all going to gather at Arundel, now with an older Jeffrey in charge instead of his annoying and crabby mother, Mrs. Tifton. Or so they think, in fact she’s arrived too, and already causing trouble.

The cast of this book is large, but everyone is unique and interesting. The events are entertaining as everyone prepares for the wedding in their own way, and the children each get into their own kinds of mischief and adventures. There are plenty of animals, snappy dialogue, music, and even a few ghosts. Of course you should read the books in order, but this one is an excellent finale.

Recommended, especially for kids who like to read and their parents.

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