Scarlett and her family live in a hotel in Manhattan. And while that is not exactly a boarding school, it’s another setting I consider wonderful right from the get go. (In the marvelous children’s book, Family Sabbatical, sequel to the wonderful Family Grandstand, the family lives in a hotel in France for a while, a situation that I found, as a third or fourth grader, to be totally magical.) Scarlett has a beautiful older sister, Lola, a talented and funny older brother, Spencer, and a somewhat mean younger sister, Marlene. The family is on hard times. Despite the fact that the hotel has a long and distinguished history hardly anyone ever stays there anymore. Scarlett and her siblings are worried about their futures when in comes the guest who will change everything–Mrs. Amberson. She is a former actress who seems to have endless stories and knowledge about Broadway, unlimited wealth and connections, but she is definitely a kook. Still, Scarlett cannot pass up being her “assistant” for the summer. Meanwhile, Spencer, who is an aspiring actor and gifted physical comedian, is involved in a low budget production of Hamlet. When the acting troupe finds itself in a bind Mrs. Amberson steps in and things get crazy as hijinks ensue. Oh and there’s also a bit of a romance as Scarlett finds herself involved with Spencer’s acting partner.
This was a great solid read–funny, compulsively readable, a complicated situation that you wonder how on earth they will resolve it, and a good dose of subterfuge and schemes.
(I notice that the paperback has a different cover than the hardcover. I read the hardcover and was delighted that the photo of the girl was just as she is described in the story.)