A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama

A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama

4.7 27
by Laura Amy Schlitz
     
 

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Maud Flynn is known at the orphanage for her impertinence. So when the charming Miss Hyacinth chooses her to take home, the girl is pleased but baffled, until she learns of her new role: helping to stage elaborate séances for bereaved patrons. As Maud is drawn deeper into the deception, playing the "secret child," she is torn between her need to please and her

Overview

Maud Flynn is known at the orphanage for her impertinence. So when the charming Miss Hyacinth chooses her to take home, the girl is pleased but baffled, until she learns of her new role: helping to stage elaborate séances for bereaved patrons. As Maud is drawn deeper into the deception, playing the "secret child," she is torn between her need to please and her growing conscience. It takes a shocking betrayal to make clear just how heartless her so-called guardians are. Filled with fascinating details of turn-of-the-century spiritualism and page-turning suspense, this novel from Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz features a feisty heroine whom readers will not soon forget.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Maud Flynn is not the ideal adoption candidate at the Barbary Asylum for Female Orphans. Miss Kitteridge, the superintendent of the orphanage, considers Maud to be an eleven-year-old troublemaker, yet Hyacinth Hawthorne is set on adopting Maud to live with the three Hawthorne spinsters. Maud is awed by the new clothing, tasty treats, and home, and she is especially drawn by Hyacinth's attention to her. Hyacinth refers to Maud as the Hawthorne sisters' "secret child" and there are mysterious rules to follow. Maud will not be attending school and she is not to be seen nor heard when there are guests in the house. Once the Hawthorne sisters trust Maud, they let her into the family business—holding s‚ances. Early in the story Maud is mesmerized by her new life, especially with Hyacinth, but as she begins to understand more about the secrets, Maud sees things from a different perspective. The suspenseful drama unfolds with intriguing twists and turns as the reader follows Maud and her life in the Hawthorne household and business.
VOYA - Heidi Dolamore
Eleven-year-old Maud is an orphan and a troublemaker, and everyone is shocked when an elderly woman named Hyacinth adopts the headstrong girl. After arriving at her new home, Hyacinth and her two sisters explain that Maud must hide upstairs whenever visitors call. Eventually the sisters reveal the reason for their secrecy. Maud will help them fake seances. Maud learns a host of tricks to help the sisters with a lucrative scheme to fool Mrs. Lambert, a wealthy woman whose daughter drowned in the ocean. Convinced of her talent for trickery, the sisters take Maud to a beachside cottage where she must spend her days hiding in the attic until it is time to act the part of the dead girl in a seance. After getting her first glimpse of the ocean, Maud cannot resist sneaking out of the house when the sisters are away. Maud spends many evenings riding the carousel and playing in the sand, catching the attention of Mrs. Lambert and threatening the success of the scam. During the seance, things do not go as planned, and Maud stands to lose everything she only recently gained. The playful narrative style stands in contrast to the otherworldly subject matter and lightens the tone of the novel. Set in the early 1900s, this quirky tale puts the reader inside Maud's head to share in her puzzlement, conflict, and discovery. The strong-willed Maud's actions are at times predictable, but the situations in which she finds herself are continually surprising.
School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up
Roland Smith's adventure novel (Harcourt, 2007) is told in the first person by 14-year-old Peak Marcello, so named by his rock climber parents. Peak writes about his adventure as a school assignment. He loves to climb, but lives in Manhattan with his mom, stepfather, and twin sisters, so he attends climbing camp and climbs skyscrapers. When Peak is arrested for climbing the Woolworth take him to Thailand where has a climbing expedition company. When teenager arrives in Katmandu, he is whisked off to a Tibetan base camp where he soon discovers his father's plan to make him the youngest person to summit Mt. Everest. He is aided by a diverse cast of characters-a monk, a Nepalese boy, Sherpa's, porters, and a TV crew. Listeners are carried along as Peak experiences acclimatization, below freezing temperatures, harrowing crevasses, lack of oxygen, and the deaths of fellow climbers. Ramón de Ocampo creates age, gender, and ethnic appropriate voices for all of the varied characters, augmenting the suspense that is inherent in the story. Although not an essential purchase, it will be a hit with patrons who love adventure.
—Jo-Ann CarhartCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
In this fast-paced story set in 1909, three seemingly caring elderly sisters adopt feisty, orphaned 11-year-old Maud Flynn. She soon discovers that they're spiritualistic con artists who value their "secret child" only because her shortness and singing talents help them dupe wealthy bereaved clients in ever-more-elaborate shams. Ironically, intelligent and resourceful Maud unwittingly turns out to possess some apparently real powers. Schlitz's well-written narrative depicts the period's craze for spiritualism and captures melodrama at its best with an orphan; shockingly villainous, heartless characters; a happy ending and some supernatural touches. Readers will get caught up in Maud's plight and keep reading to see if she can extricate herself and to learn about the genuinely fascinating details of the fakery. However, melodrama implies certain negatives, such as a predictable, too-good-to-be-true ending and some all-black or all-white characters. Overall, an interesting, brisk read, but it will be up to readers to decide how much of this they buy. (Fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher
It was not until the Misses Hawthorne boarded the train that Maud was able to open her book. She had ridden in a train once before, when she left St. Anne's Children's Home for the Barbary Asylum, and she was glad of it, because it allowed her to assume the nonchalance of a world traveler. She sat down primly, back straight.

"You mustn't read in the train," said Judith Hawthorne. "You'll be sick."

Maud was sure she would not be sick. She opened her mouth to argue and then remembered that she had made up her mind to be perfectly good. She shut her book, folded her hands on top of it, and answered, "No, ma'am."

"Miss Hyacinth has something to say to you," continued Judith, and Maud, getting the hang of it, piped up, "Yes, ma'am."

The two sisters looked at each other. After a moment, Hyacinth gave a little laugh. "Maudy, do you remember what you said earlier today - about how you would do whatever we asked of you?"

Maud had once slapped a little girl who tried to nickname her Maudy. She replied, "Yes, ma'am. I remember. I meant it, too," she added generously.

"Good." Hyacinth hesitated for a moment. "Do you like secrets, Maud?"

Maud thought about it. "I like to know secrets," she said at last, "but I don't like secrets that aren't mine."

Apparently this was not the answer Hyacinth had expected. She changed the subject. "Do you remember what I told you in the bookstore? That you wouldn't be going to school right away?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Are you sorry for that? Do you mind very much?"

"No, ma'am."

"That's good." Hyacinth lowered her voice mysteriously. "You see, Maud, Judith and I have a secret. If you were to go to school, that secret might come out. In a little while, once we are sure of you, we will tell you everything, but first we have to make sure we can trust you. Later on, we'll ask you to help us with our work."

Maud wrinkled her nose at that word work. Then she rallied. After all, even if she had to empty chamber pots, or peel potatoes, there would be fewer chamber pots and fewer potatoes than were required for sixty-three little girls. "I'll help you," she promised. "At the Asylum . . . well, sometimes I didn't do exactly what I was supposed to, but that was because Miss Kitteridge was so mean."

Hyacinth seemed to follow her thoughts. "I don't mean that kind of work. You won't have many chores to do, because we have a hired girl. Our work is different. It isn't hard, but it's secret. And - just at first - you, too, must be a secret. You're going to be our secret child."

Maud's forehead puckered with bewilderment.

"Our secret child," repeated Hyacinth. "Doesn't it sound nice? During the first few weeks of being our little girl, no one's going to know about you. You won't go to school. You won't lack for exercise, because we have a lovely garden, with a high wall round it - but when callers come to the house, you'll go upstairs, to the third floor and stay hidden. It will be like a game of hide-and-seek. Do you understand?"

Maud cast a sidelong glance at Judith, whose face was serious, almost grim. "I understand the part about hiding," she ventured. "I mean, I can stay hidden from other people, if you want me to. But I don't understand why."

"No, of course you don't," Hyacinth said tenderly. "All this must seem terribly mysterious to you - and so sudden." She put an arm around Maud's shoulders and drew her close. Her voice grew even softer, as if she were talking to a very little child. "Is it very hard, not knowing? Are you frightened? I can't bear to think that you should be afraid."

For a moment, Maud could not think what to do. One part of her wanted to bury her face in Hyacinth's violet-scented coat. Another part of her understood that she had it in her power to confer a favor. She gave herself a little shake. "No," she said stoutly. "No, ma'am, I'm not frightened."

Hyacinth squeezed her again. "You really are a darling girl," said Hyacinth Hawthorne. "Isn't she, Judith?"

Judith didn't answer. The elder Miss Hawthorne had turned to face the window. Her profile was hawklike, with its sharp eyes and Roman nose. Maud had a feeling that Judith didn't talk about "darlings" very much. A little daunted, she glanced back at Hyacinth.

Hyacinth was smiling faintly. Maud relaxed. It was Hyacinth who mattered, after all - and Hyacinth thought she was a darling girl.
_______

A DROWNED MAIDEN'S HAIR by Laura Amy Schlitz. Copyright © 2006 by Laura Amy Schlitz. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763652159
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
03/02/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
461,377
Lexile:
690L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

It was not until the Misses Hawthorne boarded the train that Maud was able to open her book. She had ridden in a train once before, when she left St. Anne's Children's Home for the Barbary Asylum, and she was glad of it, because it allowed her to assume the nonchalance of a world traveler. She sat down primly, back straight.

"You mustn't read in the train," said Judith Hawthorne. "You'll be sick."

Maud was sure she would not be sick. She opened her mouth to argue and then remembered that she had made up her mind to be perfectly good. She shut her book, folded her hands on top of it, and answered, "No, ma'am."

"Miss Hyacinth has something to say to you," continued Judith, and Maud, getting the hang of it, piped up, "Yes, ma'am."

The two sisters looked at each other. After a moment, Hyacinth gave a little laugh. "Maudy, do you remember what you said earlier today - about how you would do whatever we asked of you?"

Maud had once slapped a little girl who tried to nickname her Maudy. She replied, "Yes, ma'am. I remember. I meant it, too," she added generously.

"Good." Hyacinth hesitated for a moment. "Do you like secrets, Maud?"

Maud thought about it. "I like to know secrets," she said at last, "but I don't like secrets that aren't mine."

Apparently this was not the answer Hyacinth had expected. She changed the subject. "Do you remember what I told you in the bookstore? That you wouldn't be going to school right away?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Are you sorry for that? Do you mind very much?"

"No, ma'am."

"That's good." Hyacinth lowered her voice mysteriously. "You see, Maud, Judith and I have a secret. If you were to go to school, that secret might come out. In a little while, once we are sure of you, we will tell you everything, but first we have to make sure we can trust you. Later on, we'll ask you to help us with our work."

Maud wrinkled her nose at that word work. Then she rallied. After all, even if she had to empty chamber pots, or peel potatoes, there would be fewer chamber pots and fewer potatoes than were required for sixty-three little girls. "I'll help you," she promised. "At the Asylum . . . well, sometimes I didn't do exactly what I was supposed to, but that was because Miss Kitteridge was so mean."

Hyacinth seemed to follow her thoughts. "I don't mean that kind of work. You won't have many chores to do, because we have a hired girl. Our work is different. It isn't hard, but it's secret. And - just at first - you, too, must be a secret. You're going to be our secret child."

Maud's forehead puckered with bewilderment.

"Our secret child," repeated Hyacinth. "Doesn't it sound nice? During the first few weeks of being our little girl, no one's going to know about you. You won't go to school. You won't lack for exercise, because we have a lovely garden, with a high wall round it - but when callers come to the house, you'll go upstairs, to the third floor and stay hidden. It will be like a game of hide-and-seek. Do you understand?"

Maud cast a sidelong glance at Judith, whose face was serious, almost grim. "I understand the part about hiding," she ventured. "I mean, I can stay hidden from other people, if you want me to. But I don't understand why."

"No, of course you don't," Hyacinth said tenderly. "All this must seem terribly mysterious to you - and so sudden." She put an arm around Maud's shoulders and drew her close. Her voice grew even softer, as if she were talking to a very little child. "Is it very hard, not knowing? Are you frightened? I can't bear to think that you should be afraid."

For a moment, Maud could not think what to do. One part of her wanted to bury her face in Hyacinth's violet-scented coat. Another part of her understood that she had it in her power to confer a favor. She gave herself a little shake. "No," she said stoutly. "No, ma'am, I'm not frightened."

Hyacinth squeezed her again. "You really are a darling girl," said Hyacinth Hawthorne. "Isn't she, Judith?"

Judith didn't answer. The elder Miss Hawthorne had turned to face the window. Her profile was hawklike, with its sharp eyes and Roman nose. Maud had a feeling that Judith didn't talk about "darlings" very much. A little daunted, she glanced back at Hyacinth.

Hyacinth was smiling faintly. Maud relaxed. It was Hyacinth who mattered, after all - and Hyacinth thought she was a darling girl._______

Meet the Author

Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! VOICES FROM A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE, illustrated by Robert Byrd. She is also the author of A DROWNED MAIDEN'S HAIR: A MELODRAMA; THE HERO SCHLIEMAN: THE DREAMER WHO DUG FOR TROY; and THE BEARSKINNER: A STORY OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM, a retelling illustrated by Max Grafe. She lives in Baltimore, where she is a lower school librarian at the Park School.

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maud, like all the characters, is a fully realized human, full of contradictions and imperfections--and all the more loveable for it. I disagree with calling this a 'melodrama': there is no mustache-twirling villain, and, instead, the action in this unique, highly imaginative and original story is entirely character-driven. What happens (and it's highly entertaining and emotionally gripping) feels inevitable because of who these characters are. I found it completely absorbing (and stayed up way, way later than I should have!) and believed and lived in every word.
sassypickle More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful, heart-wrenching tale! Maud, an orphan, is adopted by three sisters who set her up to believe that they care for her, only to heartlessly prove to Maud how disposable she really was. I shed a few tears with this book, no doubt it will stay with me for a long time.
Team_Demigod More than 1 year ago
This book was enchanting, thrilling, and suspenseful! I loved reading every second of it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im reading it right now and it is getting really good and i love mysteries!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written. Love the concept behind the story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maud seeks to be loved, only to have her heart broken by the one she cares about most ( who, by the way, is an old lady, not a guy). I like how Maud pretends to be sweet and perfect at first, but slowly goes back to being herself. Has lots of good characters.< by good I dont mean that they were all honest and fair and stuff, but that they had something to add to the plot.
LynF More than 1 year ago
If you have stumbled upon this book and can't decide to read or not, opt for absolutely! The plot is fresh, the writing classic and the settings and characters sublime. Each is brought to life with a masterful pen, infusing a unique personality into one and all. Twists and turns along the way, lessons to be learned, growing to be done, and endings that will not be revealed by this critic. Lyn Frankel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book &quot;Drowned Maiden's Hair&quot; by Laura Amy Schlitz was a great book but it wasn't amazing, it was obviously an enjoyable book (to me). The book genre is sort of a realistic fiction novel, so if you don't enjoy those kinds of books i suggest you don't read this one. The story begins with a girl named Maud, she is an orphan but she is not an only orphan she has both her brother and sister with her but they both out shine her. Her brother is good at labor and her sister is pretty. Through out the beginning of the book it would seem as if Maud lives a very harsh life because of the way everyone treats her at the orphanage they would often call her names like plain, bad and dumb. No one at the orphanage really helps her out until later on in the story and that one person helps her change a lot of things in her life like helping her realise that shes not plain, bad and dumb she helps expand Mauds traits and self confidence. Also in the beginning of the book it would almost seem as if Maud is a trouble maker because she starts off getting punished for infuriating the teachers, but as shes getting punished she thought about what she did which also shows that she's sort of a thoughtful person because she though about what she did and she knew it was wrong. As the story continues it helps develop Mauds personality by changing her for the better or for the worse. As more problems come up more solutions are needed. Towards the end everything changes for the better. - Roan C. 411.
xxBella More than 1 year ago
&quot;Heart-warming, beautiful book filled with PERFECTION.&quot; This book is wonderfully great. It's full of mystery, sadness, and betrayal, but it becomes all resolved in the end. I recommend this book.
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This is a realy good book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The title might mot sound good but you can't judge a book by it's cover!!!
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Who said that in a melodrama there has to be a man with a curly mustache that is a biased opinion. I totally adore this book. I give it five stars
Sydney Blazis More than 1 year ago
touching story sad and descriptive.