What a super charming book! It reminded me very much of Hilary McKay’s The Exiles (by the way, that link shows you a hideous cover for that book. McKay’s website shows much cuter stuff.) It feels so British to me, but in fact it takes place in the Berkshires.
The Penderwick family consists of 4 sisters, their loving and kind father, and their big goofy dog. Their mother died when the littlest girl, Batty (now 4), was a tiny infant. They are spending three weeks at a cottage in the country and to their surprise it turns out to be a very large cottage on the property of an imposing mansion. Just like in any romantic type book as they come up the drive they see the face of a boy in the window, and then it vanishes. He turns out to be the son of the manor and jolly good fun, despite his hideous awful mother who can’t wait to pack him off to military school (he would rather be a musician.) The girls and boy have a wonderful time together, but his mother seems them as a terrible influence. There is much mischief, falling in ponds during garden tours and the like, and small adventures.
This was just absolutely charming and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment of their adventures. I loved that it felt so old fashioned,though not outdated. (You’ll note I’m not the only one to love this book–it won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.)