February 06, 2007

Escape into the world of the Somerset Girls

It's bad enough that her mother gave her this weird name based on where she used to live: Cornelia Street Englehart. It's worse that her quirky, glamorous mother is never around, and she's famous -- and so sought after that grown-ups are willing to use their children as bait to snag a visit with the famous Lucy Englehart, concert pianist. "It's in your genes," her mother tells her, since Cornelia's famous father is also a concert pianist, although she hasn't seen him since she was tiny. But Cornelia is not a musician and she refuses to take piano lessons. She is a bibliophile, a linguist, and she is also an uncomfortable person, angry and beneath her anger, frightened and lonely and sad. Her mother is always leaving, leaving, leaving, and Cornelia gets left behind. At school, she doesn't fit in, and she seems to exist solely in the world of adults and their whims. With no friends of her own, she has only her fabulously gorgeous and famous mother to which to compare herself, and she falls so short in the glamor-and-fame department that she hates to look.

Into this miserable life rushes Mr. Kinyatta, a black French bulldog who belongs to writer Virginia Somerset, the woman who has turned the penthouse across the hall into a place of wonder. Marble floors, fountains, palm trees and stories are what Virginia, Patel and Mr. Kinyatta give Cornelia. A heart full of stories begins to feed Cornelia in ways she never imagined. Now she no longer barricades herself behind walls of words, instead she listens for the stories in them. Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters seem to be a made-in-heaven connection. Cornelia wants to keep Virginia, and the lovely stories she tells of the adventures of her girlhood all to herself. Otherwise, won't Virginia just want to meet Lucy, like everybody else? And then she'll know just how drab and ordinary Cornelia truly is...

2 comments:

Little Willow said...

I absolutely adore this book.

tanita s. davis said...

I was surprised by how much I liked it -- I kind of saw some of the ending coming, but the ride to get there was really, really cool.