A week alone on the Maine beach!
Allegra Sloane is sad when she hears that her Uncle Benji has died – sad for him, but even more for herself. Now she and her sisters have to give up an entire week of their summer in Maine, an event which they look forward to all year long. And they aren’t even going to Uncle Benji’s funeral – they’re going to stay with fussy old Aunt Ruth while their parents go to the funeral.
But when Allegra sees the chance for her and her sisters to stay on the island, she jumps at it. It requires some planning, but she pulls events off so that their parents head off to the funeral and think that the girls are travelling to Aunt Ruth’s home, when really they are heading back to the island.
It will be a weekend like no other.
And boy, howdy is it a week unlike any other! The girls all begin the week thinking that their time without parents will be easier and more enjoyable – after all, there’s no one to pester them with the “do’s” and “don’ts”. But Allegra is quickly slammed with all of the responsibilities which are usually held by her parents – the responsibility of finding food to eat, of protecting her sisters, and of maintaining any semblance of order.
Alice, Allegra’s older sister, is a flighty girl who spends most of her time floating around quoting Romeo and Juliet at partially fitting moments. She requires a degree of pampering after she hurts her ankle, and generally lounges around complaining that Allegra can’t think of better food to give her.
Minnow, Allegra’s younger sister, is equally useless but manifests her self-interest in extra activity (as opposed to Alice’s indolence). She also refuses to shoulder any of the load, although she is happy enough to be adding to it.
In the end, all of the girls admit that being on their own is much more work than they would have ever believed. Allegra admits that she can’t wait until her parents return so that they can take back the responsibility (although she doesn’t seem to realize that she deserves all of the hardships she experienced since it was her deceitful behavior which caused them). The parents return and are treated to the whole story of their daughters’ deceitfulness and conniving. However, instead of fussing at them for their deception, the parents seem more concerned by the lack of sensitivity shown by the girls in making their decision.
“It’s the inconsideration that I mind the most,” she said. “It turned out that no one knew, so no one worried. But what if we had tracked down Aunt Ruth and found out you weren’t with her? Think how frightened we would have been!” [pg. 124]
Honestly, I enjoyed the story, despite the fact that the girls (though apologetic) never really admitted that what they did was wrong. Each sister was drawn with care, and the constant Shakespeare quotes were really hilarious.
Since there is no one but the three girls at the beach, they sometimes go swimming without any clothes one. During one of these escapades a boat appears out of nowhere and the people in it tease Alice about being a mermaid. (She is mostly underwater.) It is mentioned that Minnow looked at a National Geographic magazine which contained pictures of a naked tribe.
Allegra says that she thinks that if dogs have souls, periwinkles do as well. Alice quotes the witches chant from Macbeth. When the girls realize that they can’t go to church, the make a cross out of two pieces of wood and recite a Psalm in front of it. The scene is irreverent, especially considering that Minnow develops (and exercises) a need to use the restroom in the middle of it.
‘D***’ is used three times by Alice, and she also quotes her mother as saying ‘my God’.
Conclusion. I prefer Baby Island as a girls-stuck-on-an-island story, but this one is still vaguely enjoyable.
Review © 2014 Laura Verret