Fourteen-year-old Clara Hargraves lives on a farm in Hopkinton, a small New Hampshire town, during the early 19th century. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother, Priscilla, who used to be her spinster schoolteacher aunt. Clara resents that her late mother’s older sister has not only married her father but is about to have a baby. To make matters worse, “Prissy Priscilla” keeps trying to make the rambunctious, clever, and witty Clara act like a proper young lady. Secondly, Clara has red hair, making her a target for teasing by a handsome older boy, Dickson Weeks, and by her pretty seventeen-year-old Dread Cousin Hetty. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this. During the last week of June, 1825, Clara’s town is abuzz because the famous General Lafayette is about to visit their state during his farewell tour of America. In those eventful seven days, Clara learns a lot about her family, Hetty, Dickon, herself, and about Lafayette. She comes to understand the huge and vital role the young French aristocrat played in America’s Revolutionary War and to see that her problems might not be quite so terrible after all.
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Charming coming-of-age story with romance, adventure, history, music and dancing
Great story! I'm glad I discovered this author. She writes so well and makes her characters so believable. Her other book of historical fiction about the American Revolution is "The Riddle of Penncroft Farm," which was published a while back in 1989. It got all sorts of awards and I'm sure this one will too. This one is about a 14-yr old girl, Clara, who lives in Hopkinton, NH in the 1820s when General Lafayette was on his tour of the US to celebrate the 50th year of American independence that he helped fight for. I never knew he had such impact on the success of the war! The author cleverly weaves the historical information into the story so that you learn about Lafayette as Clara does. And then you get the story about Clara dealing with a step-mother, being called carroty top for her red hair, and her brother's teasing friend, or is he maybe flirting???? (Don't worry, this does not need a PG designation; it's a completely wholesome story.) Lots of plot lines in this and all resolved in a believable way. Well done Ms. Jensen! Keep on writing!
I would recommend this story to readers age 9-14 for personal enjoyment, but also teachers would benefit from this as you learn a lot about the American Revolution, Lafayette's role in it, and also about 1820s rural New England life which is when the actual story takes place.
By the way, her Amazon author page has some good links to her websites with a ton of additional info, including a free reading guide, photos, additional resources, etc - great for book clubs, teachers and homeschoolers. Check it out!
A Nice Historical Fiction read
The story follows Clara, whose mother died prior to the start of the tale. Clara struggles to accept her aunt as her new stepmother. She is hurt and convinced that her aunt has been spiteful in marrying Clara’s father. Simultaneously, the story focuses on the historical elements of the American Revolution and the positive impact Lafayette had on the outcome of the war for America as the young Frenchman. The two story lines are interesting and weave together nicely. It was not a story I couldn’t resist to put down, but it was an enjoyable read.