Not at all what I d been expecting, and frankly dreading, but rather a charming tale The main evil character is a bit of a cardboard mock up, but doesn t spoil the story by being so Touches on some pretty powerful topics with an evenhandedness that assures one of the fundamental rightness of things. A historical children s book set in the 19th century with just a bit of stuff not mundane.It opens on Maud being punished by being locked in the lavatory of the orphanage She is singing defiantly, and the voice of a strange woman asks after her She is let out by a Miss Hyacinth Hawthorne, and brought to the office where Miss Judith Hawthorne is waiting the women she knew were coming to the orphanage to adopt a girl a few years younger than her but Hyacinth thinks she s perfect and sweeps off with her.On the train, they tell her she has to be a secret, and hide in their house, so that no one knows she s there.At their house, she has new clothes, and all she can eat for meals, and books and education, but she starts to learn things about them, and their third sister For one they are not so rich as they look.What weaves onward from their involves making a crocodile out of sand, Maud s taking a train journey alone, a carousal, a drowned little girl, a man who wants permission to remarry, a glockenspiel, a deaf maidservant and the difference between lower class and upper class letters, the jetty at the shore, and much in a dramatic tale. People Throw The Word Classic About A Lot, But A DROWNED MAIDEN S HAIR Genuinely Deserves To Become One WALL STREET JOURNALMaud Flynn Is Known At The Orphanage For Her Impertinence So When The Charming Miss Hyacinth Chooses Her To Take Home, The Girl Is Pleased But Baffled, Until It Becomes Clear That She S Needed To Help Stage Elaborate S Ances For Bereaved Patrons As Maud Is Drawn Deeper Into The Deception, Playing Her Role As A Secret Child, She Is Torn Between Her Need To Please And Her Growing Conscience Until A Shocking Betrayal Shows Just How Heartless Her So Called Guardians Are Filled With Fascinating Details Of Turn Of The Century Spiritualism And Page Turning Suspense, This Lively Novel Features A Feisty Heroine Whom Readers Will Not Soon Forget How far would you go, to be loved In spite of the name and cover art, this isn t historical fantasy it s really a straight historical fiction with a little mystery thrown in In fact, it reminded me a bit of A Series of Unfortunate Events.Maud is an orphan, plain, clever and bad at the Barbary Asylum for Female Orphans, when suddenly to everyone s surprise 3 elderly sisters adopt her Maud is determined to leave behind her bad ways and behave like a lady for the three sisters, one of whom she completely adores at first sight Even as it becomes apparent that the sisters aren t what they seem to be, Maud is so happy to have a home and family, that she s happy to be a secret child and will do whatever the sisters want of her.or will she This was a good read, Maud is enchanting and realistic and the writing was very good and the plot moved right along It was interesting to revisit that time period in American history I ll be looking for novels from this author. It feels weird to read a book about a surly, neglected orphan adopted by fraudulent mediums who only want her because she s small enough to dress up as the ghost of a dead child and call that book cozy But cozy is honestly how I felt reading this book Yes, some very sad things happen, but this story hits all the expected beats of a historical middle grade novel about a surly, neglected orphan, and it hits them in a way that is perhaps a little predictable, but also very satisfying I enjoyed it. An Edwardian orphan of Irish ancestry, plus two old ladies who pretend to be mediums and a third who actually did dream about the dead, plus a deaf servant and a very sad lady whose daughter drowned It s quite well written, and I think one of the false mediums is a sociopath Content PG Little orphan Maud Flynn knows that she is most certainly NOT a good girl and she has been told so by many people Plus her impertinence and her naughtiness have landed her in constant trouble at the orphanage where she lives This is why, than anybody else, Maud is surprised when a charming, rich old lady called Miss Hyacinth and her sisters decide to adopt her out of all the children in the orphanage Given this opportunity to leave that horrid place and to have a better life, Maud vows to be a good girl as much as a possible Even if it means not questioning the sisters when they tell her she is to be a secret child , hidden from everybody else, never to leave the house Why would she want to anyway, as she has everything she needs beautiful new clothes, as many books as she can read, as much food as she wants and the lovely attention of Miss Hyacinth Happy to be wanted, enamoured with Miss Hyacinth and eager to please, she even agrees to help out not that she has any real choice on the matter the sisters in their Grand Scheme Hyacinth, Judith and Victoria might look like perfectly upstanding ladies but are in fact, con women who hold fake s ances, preying on grief stricken wealthy patrons Time passes and Maud gets to know her adopted family better and realises that her new life is not as perfect as she would like it to be.A Drowned Maiden s Hair A Melodrama is a brilliant example of how a very conventional Gothic story, with very traditional tropes can still be a damn good novel This is an excellent Gothic melodrama, one that knows exactly that it is one and as such it plays to the strengths of the genre the melodrama the villainy the atmosphere to the maximum even as it never deviates from a fairly predictable Gothic inspired pattern On the surface, there is nothing new about it it features a Feisty Orphan, Dastardly Villains, Fake S ances, and a perfect happy ending after a lot of drama and loads of ups and down.In this particular case, I would say that what makes A Drowned Maiden s Hair A Melodrama a perfect case study of how using conventional tropes and sticking to the traditional of a genre is not a bad thing per, is how its characters are lovingly developed, especially Maud Maud is so much than a Feisty Orphan She is feisty, yes and also stubborn, clever and impertinent but it is very clear that mostly, she is just a lonely girl who desperately needs to be loved It is really interesting really, how Maud has internalised after so many years of hearing abuse the idea that she is not good and therefore she cannot possibly be loved That being good in her mind is equated with prettiness which she is not and unquestioning behaviour is quite possibly one of the saddest things I have ever heard Not being able to trust the adults in her life because they have always failed her, believing that she is indeed less valuable than other children because of that, makes for a really heartbreaking read Another point of interest is how Maud is an avid reader and the vast majority of books she reads most of them classics serve only to reinforce this idea every single child in those books is extremely beautiful and perfectly good.Her story arc takes her through some serious heartbreak but also through a lot of growth, especially when it comes to developing not only her own sense of right and wrong but also of self worth her love cannot be bought by riches or superficial endearments and promises There is also a beautiful relationship that develops between her and another character that is better left for the reader to discover Suffice it to say that because of this relationship I have seen the best use for an Ouija Board ever.The other characters are superbly developed as well the three villains of the piece have different layers and motivations and their relationship with Maud develop in different ways Although they are all very clearly demarked as villains no black and white there there is depth to them which to me, makes them all the horrifying.A Drowned Maiden s Hair A Melodrama also presents an intricate study of child abuse from obvious neglect and horrid experiences at the orphanage to that kind of abuse that is mostly psychological what she undergoes with the sisters, who pretend to be kind and give only material attention to her whilst neglecting her thirst for love is just horridly insidious Every time Maud wished for a hug and had to refrain herself was just gut wrenching That she goes through it all with verve and an unbroken spirit is just the cherry on top Oh little Maud, let ME adopt you.My review quite possibly makes it sound as though A Drowned Maiden s Hair A Melodrama is a dreary, dismally bleak read It is not quite the contrary There are fun parts as well as really heart warming ones And I really don t mean to sound melodramatic but the ending almost made me drown in my own tears of joy True fact. A Drowned Maiden s Hair is a wonderfully fun, fast paced, pulpy Victorian Sensation novel Its main character, Maud, is a great portrait of an eleven year old in some ways old before her time, but still believably a child She s neither overly sentimentalised, nor unrepentantly bratty Laura Amy Schlitz also has a great eye for character, and a gift for a great first line On the morning of the best day of her life, Maud Flynn was locked in the outhouse, singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic Doesn t that just make you want to read Finally, this is ultimately a hopeful book about good things happening to good people, and sometimes that s just what you need. At the Barbary Asylum, every child was strictly classified a girl was pretty or plain, clever or stupid, good or bad Maud knew quite well that she was plain, clever and bad.Maud Flynn, growing up in the Barbary Asylum, knows exactly how much she s worth not much She s willful and plain, and gets into too much trouble to be ever considered for adoption So when Hyacinth and Judith Hawthorne waltz into Barbary Asylum looking for a child and insist on leaving with Maud, it s hard to tell who is surprised the headmistress or Maud herself.At first, life with the Hawthorne sisters is a dream come true They buy her new clothes and books, and feed her delicious food But after the novelty of life outside the Asylum wears off, Maud begins to question the strangeness of her situation because she is a secret child The Hawthornes keep her confined to the third floor, and don t let anyone know that they had adopted a child.Soon, Maud discovers the truth The Hawthornes are mediums, and they need a child in order to bilk a wealthy woman out of her money as she tries to contact her dead daughter Maud is willing to do anything to keep her new home and make the Hawthornes love her but how far is too far There is a great idea for a story here, but the thing that really makes this book is Maud She is just so genuine she leaps off the page and feels like a real little girl She s tough and proud and fiesty, but also broken inside She rarely lets it show, but there are moments when I just wanted to wrap her in my arms and hold her Maud broke my heart into teeny tiny pieces.This book also has a chillingly deceptive villain, and what s so impressive is that you only see her through Maud s adoring eyes Maud is not stupid, but she is desperate for love and desperate to be wanted, so the picture we see of the Hawthornes is colored by what she wants so badly and yet we still have a very complete, well rounded picture of the Hawthornes.That s another thing I love about this book No one including Maud s enemies in the Barbary Asylum is one dimensional They are all so well rounded and three dimensional the villainous characters have their good moments, and the good characters sometimes have a temper and make hasty unfortunate decisions Everyone is real.This is the second time I m reading this book, and the second time it has made me tear up at the end It s a quiet book, but it s the kind of book that burrows into your heart and finds a permanant home there. The full title of this book is actually A Drowned Maiden s Hair A Melodrama The subtitle led me to expect that this wouldn t be a very serious read that, indeed, it was a book that didn t even take itself seriously.Despite billing itself rather lightly, this book manages to tackle some big questions about integrity, spirituality, and the need to belong Laura Amy Schlitz uses a common convention in children s literature her protagonist, Maud, is an orphan Although she s unpopular with the head of the orphanage, she s adopted by three spinster sisters, and then kept as their secret child I won t give away why she had to be kept secret, but it didn t end up being as sinister as I thought it might be still, I wasn t disappointed.The characters in this book are all richly and complexly drawn it s absolutely appropriate for kids, but has a depth that will appeal to adults It also claims a unique niche in the field of historical fiction for its exploration of Spiritualism in the Victorian era The audio version, which I listened to, is especially good the narrator does old women s voices just right.
Laura Amy Schlitz is an American author of children s literature She is a librarian and storyteller at The Park School in Brooklandville, Maryland.She received the 2008 Newbery Medal for her children s book entitled Good Masters Sweet Ladies Voices from a Medieval Village, 1 and the 2013 Newbery Honor for her children s book, Splendors and Glooms 2 She also won the 2016 Scott O Dell Award fo
- 400 pages
- A Drowned Maiden's Hair
- Laura Amy Schlitz
- 12 July 2019 Laura Amy Schlitz