'The Hired Girl' - Laura Amy Schlitz
Ah, such a breath of fresh air! I loved this book, and so needed this kind of read! 'The Hired Girl' is so layered and sweet and sad and often funny. So many feels! This is one for the Austen/Alcott/Downton fans...
Told (in diary form) by Joan, 'The Hired Girl' is the story of a young girl who yearns for education and the right to earn her own income. She is resolutely naive and romantic, yet courageous and independent too (she reads as a younger Daisy, for Downton fans). I loved the way her writing matured with her, and finished the book with high hopes for this sweet character (and hopes of a sequel... Perhaps?).
Her journey from farm girl to hired hand is so interesting. This is more than simply a coming of age tale. 'The Hired Girl' is an "exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats and bunions," (from the Walker Books website). As you can see, (Newberry Medal Winner) Schlitz really covers a lot of ground! I found the social, political and religious background extremely interesting, but it's woven into the tale in a natural way, if those words be scaring you :-P
The range of characters are all very flawed, which I love. The interplay between the characters is fun to read, and some characters are particularly vividly drawn. I will admit to finding Joan a little tiresome at first, largely due to her ability to misread (and mishandle) so many situations. But this quickly changes. Soon enough I found myself counting victories and anticipating her success.
If you've begun collecting TBRs for Winter, add this one! With descriptions of food and new dresses and handsome suitors (to really diminish the literary depth of the novel - lol), 'The Hired Girl' is the perfect curl-up-with-a-hot-cocoa-in-front-of-the-fire book.
'The Hired Girl' was provided for review by Walker Books, and the hardcover is available now in bookstores for RRP $29.99.