In 1904 young ladies like Samantha wore dresses covered with frilly aprons, high button shoes and long stockings held up with garters. They are not allowed to climb trees, instead must spend time sewing on their embroidery sampler.
Samantha is An American Girl in 1904 in a proper household.
Her parents were killed in an automobile accident and she lives in a large, comfortable home with her grandmother “Grandmary”. Her life is quite grand. She eats her meals in an elegant dining room, when guests visit them they meet in the parlor and children “are to be seen and not heard”. Children are expected to curtsy and say “How do you do?”
In Samantha’s household there is also Hawkins the butler and driver, and Mrs. Hawkins the cook. Jessie sews for her grandmother and Elsa is the maid. Uncle Gard, her favorite uncle comes to visit and often brings his lady-friend, Cornelia.
Eddie, the little boy who lives right next door delights in teasing Samantha, and as the book opens he goads her into climbing a tree – she is rather unsuccessful. She falls, scrapes her knee and ruins her stocking. Not wanting to have issues with Grandmary she goes directly to Jessie who will lovingly patch Samantha up and so she will be prim and proper for her “sewing hour’” with Grandmary.
Samantha learns from Eddie that a girl her age will be moving in next door> She is delighted, but imagine her surprise when she finds out that Nellie not only lives next door, but also works next door. Nellie is from a poor family that can’t afford to feed their three children. She had been working in a factory - long hours and many days a week. She had gotten sick with a cough and had to stop that work, but now she will live with Eddie’s family and her parents will get paid a dollar a week. The work isn’t as long and hard, and she gets more food to eat, but she doesn’t get to see her family very often.
Samantha wants to be friends with Nellie and they arrange a time to meet each day. Samantha has a loving relationship with Jessie and is quite startled when Jessie come and announces that she is leaving now and won’t be back. No one will tell Samantha where she has gone or why.
A late night errand with Nellie helps to solve the riddle and also gives Samantha an idea. Will her Grandmary be willing to take a chance?
Note: All American Girl books are from my personal library.
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