Book Review

The Penderwicks at Last = 7+ Years of unfulfilled expectations

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Summary

Lydia frolicks in meadows, plays with sheep, oh and choreographs a dance for her sisters wedding. ATTENTION: This review is chock full of spoilers. So go no further if that is not okay with you.

-First Thoughts-

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I am frustrated. And I feel betrayed by Birdsall. Why? Because this last book, the culmination to years spent with these characters completely fell flat. It lacked the emotion, the passion, and depth of insight of the previous books. There was no conflict.

What the heck is the point of reading a book where everything goes smoothly?  It’s boring. Granted, my 8-year-old self was not a fan of conflict. My stories had the sole purpose of removing conflict and making all my characters have these perfect lives. Unfortunately, I soon realized that once you take out the conflict there isn’t much left to tell.

That said, I would have been fine with the lack of conflict if certain character’s stories had been completed. There were loose threads waiting to be tied up that never got tied up.

Why am I so aggravated? Because Skye does not marry Jeffrey. Rather Birdsall copied Little Woman which I was hoping she wouldn’t do. I saw it coming, yet I hoped against hope that she would not copy Louisa May Alcott and stick the youngest, Batty, with the main protagonist Jeffrey. But that is exactly was she did.

All through the series she has been foreshadowing that their relationship would evolve into something romantic when they’re older.  Namely because they both are passionate about music and in the first book Batty says she will marry Jeffrey. But that was when she was 4! She was always younger than him so it was just weird. Now that her character is grown up it isn’t weird, but at the same time it still is! Because there is no time for us to see this new relationship between Batty and Jeffrey. It gets pushed to the sidelines. And that deep connection and bond of friendship between Skye and Jeffrey? Kaput. It’s like it never happened.

So much character development happened behind the scenes that we aren’t privy to.

I loved Skye and Jeffrey together. Yet at the same time I can understand why some people may think they might not be the best together. I understand why she put Batty and Jeffrey together, they both love music and are gentle and kind. BUT they don’t have that friendship and chemistry that Skye and Jeffrey have!

The story starts with Rosalind announcing her and Tommy’s wedding at Arundel. It’s told from the viewpoint of the youngest Penderwick, Lydia. I really enjoyed Lydia, she was fun, fresh but I missed reading from multiple character’s perspectives. That said, since she was the youngest there were a lot of scenes where she gets shut out of important conversations because she’s too young. All well and good, but that means we as readers miss out on those conversations too!

Then we find out that Skye is dating a Czech guy named Dusek! A character we don’t even know and never get to know! They barely talk about him!! At first I was fine, thinking she would break up with him once she got reunited with Jeffrey, but no!

Then Batty is dating a sweet new character named Wesley. He and Batty are perfect together. He’s an artists, sweet and kind with a lovable 3 legged dog. She breaks up with him before going to Arundel however. Then once Lydia gets to Arundel she finds a new friend named Alice. Alice was one of my favorite characters. Her and Wesley kept me from disliking this book too much. That said much of the story is spent describing Alice and Lydia playing in a field.

Back to the plot –> Skye decides she wants to get married too and everything progresses smoothly for the wedding plans. But whenever Skye is talking it just didn’t feel like her. Everything was a little off. Batty was older so it was understandable that her character would change. Just so much of the story centered around her and I felt like I didn’t even know her. It was strange and I didn’t get nearly enough details and time spent with the older Penderwick sisters I know and love. I like Batty, but her character just felt rather distant.

Back to the plot again. Mrs. Tifton shows up and gets all upset because the Penderwicks are back destroying her property.  Then Wesley shows up because he’s jealous of Jeffrey. But it all comes to nothing. The worst part? When Skye sees Jeffrey for the first time in forever they don’t interact! What happened? What did I miss?

The story wraps up and we don’t even get to see the wedding!!!

Now let me talk about some of the pros of this story. Because there were parts I enjoyed.

Pros:

  • Lydia was delightful. I liked getting to know the youngest Penderwick.
  • Ben was funny and likeable. He reminds me of my own brother. His obsession with making movies was humorous and it was fun to read about his take on life.
  • Alice was hilarious. I believe she was my favorite part of this book. Her personality was delightfully stubborn, fierce, and exuberant. Some parts made me laugh out loud.
  • Wesley- Batty’s love interest was perfect for her. But then Birdsall got rid of him! GOT RID OF HIM! WHY?!! He was perfect for her! An artists, quiet, with subtle yet endearing mannerisms. By the end of the story I was disappointed that he was being removed so completely from the story.
  • Jane was goofy and as random and distracted as ever. I love her, she’s probably one of my favorite characters.

Cons:

  • Skye and Jeffrey don’t get married.
  • Jeffrey and Batty are thrown together.
  • We don’t see the wedding!!!
  • The characters felt distant.
  • I didn’t get to see enough of the original Penderwicks.
  • I feel so unsatisfied.

-Rating-

2 Avocados

-Last Words-

Why Birdsall why??!! This is a sad sad day for the honest avocado. Who needs to buy table salt as a seasoning? Today I’m going to salt my guacamole with my own tears.

 

7 thoughts on “The Penderwicks at Last = 7+ Years of unfulfilled expectations

  1. Thank you so much for this article! I absolutely love the Penderwicks books, but this last book was disheartening. Beautiful writing as always. I might like the book more if I didn’t skim through it and skip chapters (my brothers had summarized it for me), but I’m afraid I would end up as traumatized as I was after watching Little Women. A part of me thinks that Batty and Jeffrey are so cute, but without that important time to get to know the characters again and see their relationships develop, I just can’t bring myself to accept the facts. I’m so grateful to have ran across this article because it put in words what I could not. It is so fulfilling to read exactly what is missing from the book and what I long for; it brings acceptance to my feelings and I don’t have to rant to a friend who has no idea what I’m talking about. A million thank yous!

    Liked by 1 person

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