Rereading: A ROOM MADE OF WINDOWS by Eleanor Cameron

This is the fourth Julia Redfern book chronologically, but the first published, in 1971. Julia’s childhood is somewhat autobiographical, the author also grew up in Berkeley, CA in the 1910s-1920s, and many characters and incidents are probably based on her own memories.

Julia, her mother, and her brother Greg are living in an upstairs apartment that they love. Julia’s room is one she particularly adores. Intended as a sun room, it’s lined with windows, and has a small balcony overlooking the yard and garden. Julia has discovered a passion for writing, perhaps inherited from her deceased father, and she keeps a journal of unusual events called “Strangeness,” as well as writing stories that she submits to the local paper. Neighbors play a strong role in the book, next door is an elderly woman living alone, Rhiannon Moore, who Julia hears often playing her piano. They meet one night outside when both have mail to put in the post box, and Julia is threatened by another drunken neighbor, Mr. Kellerman, father of her friends Addie and Ken. Mrs. Moore protects Julia, and they become friends. Other neighbors also figure importantly: another renter at the house, the elderly Daddy Chandler, also intent on writing, who Julia loves to tease, and their landlady, Mrs. de Rizzio, who watches out for the children when their mother is at work.

Julia’s biggest challenge is a new development for her mother, a romance with her boss, who they know as Uncle Phil, and who tries his best to be their friend. Julia sees what’s happening, suspects he wants to marry her mother and move the family to the new house he’s building in the hills, and she wants none of it, making her mother miserable.

There are more twists and turns and characters in this wonderful book, which has many aspects, including the development of a young writer in Julia, her growth as a person, the effects of aging, a love of animals, mysteries, elements of the supernatural, and Berkeley of the 1920s brought vividly to life. This is perhaps Cameron’s best book, it won a U.S. National Book Award, and is highly recommended. You don’t need to have read the other Julia Redfern books to enjoy it, but they add depth to the overall story.

A Room Made of Windows by Eleanor Cameron

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.