Goodreads: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
When the headmistress of St. Ethedreda’s School for Girls and her younger brother are poisoned at Sunday dinner, the seven boarders know just what to do. Hide the bodies; convince the town that Headmistress Plackett is alive and well; and continue to live at the school as independent women. But can the girls identify the murderer before he or she attempts to strike a second time?
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a crazy romp of an adventure featuring seven strong ladies as the protagonists, all of them possessing unique skills and interests. The premise is ludicrous, the resulting charade insane, and the likelihood of success increasingly infinitesimal–and yet it is impossible not to cheer these ladies on. Julie Berry offers a fresh, fun boarding school mystery that celebrates sisterhood and dares girls everywhere to dream the impossible.
I knew from the beginning that I was going to love this story. When the headmistress of their school and her younger brother both fall dead during Sunday dinner, the young ladies neither scream nor faint, but immediately jump into action, checking for signs of life, gathering evidence of the crime, and planning their future. Smooth Kitty, the planner and business woman of the group, proposes that the seven girls hide the murders so they can continue living together, rather than return home to the parents who do not want them and the siblings who torment them. These girls desire the freedom to pursue their own interests and to live their own lives, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that.
The truly great thing about this book is that, once the girls make their decision, affairs go from bad to worse. They never receive a reprieve from outside scrutiny and unexpected visitors–if something can go wrong, it will. This allows the girls to prove their mettle time and again. And they all shine in their own way. Kitty has the business sense, Louise the scientific mind, Alice the acting skills, and so forth. Together they form a formidable team.
The girls’ success stems not only from their quick wits and various talents, but also from their whole-hearted support of one another. They may not always agree on how to live or act, but they treat each other’s viewpoints with respect. Louise, for example, does not understand how anyone can like men, who are always telling women what they can and cannot do. Mary Jane flirts with every man she meets. Roberta feels for every living creature. Elinor has an unusual fascination with death. Rather than fight each other, however, the girls pull together to focus on what really matters–facing the public and outwitting a murderer so they can stay together. Girls supporting girls is a beautiful thing.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a funny, smart, and exciting mystery, one equally full of action and heart. Watching these sisters band to together to preserve their friendship was one of the highlights of my reading so far this year. I only wish I could return to Prickwillow Place and the wonderful friends I made.