From the Publisher
“How sorry we have felt for those who knew not Lucretia Hale and the Peterkins…a masterpiece.”
–The New York Times
“Lucretia P. Hale’s Peterkin family and ‘the lady from Philadelphia’ are standard characters in American fiction, and surely that is much to say of an author in these book-crowded days…Few writers leave behind them such a tribute to their greatness as the Peterkins are to Lucretia P. Hale, for the years pass them along to every new generation with the hint that human nature is about the same everywhere and all the time.”–Harper’s Bazaar
“People young and old, solemn and gay, rich and poor, will be glad to welcome a new edition of the Peterkin Papers. It is pleasant to meet the Peterkin family again…”–The Chicago Tribune
“[Lucretia Hale is] among the best of American women writers.” Harper’s Bazaar
Children's Literature - Leslie Wolfson
It's no wonder that this book reads like a series of short stories since that's essentially what it is. The author began writing stories about the eccentric and dim-witted Peterkin family in 1860; the first story was so popular that she ended up writing many more over the next nine years, which have now reissued in novel format. Having been written more than a hundred and forty years ago, the stories have lost something in translation. Basically, every chapter begins with the Peterkins having some sort of dilemma, which they are unable to solve until the wise Lady from Philadelphia intervenes. One example is when Mrs. Peterkin accidentally puts salt instead of sugar in her coffee. She calls her family together to find a solution. The whole family takes the cup of coffee to the local chemist, and then to an herbal woman who lives in the woods. Neither can improve the taste of the coffee. Finally, the Lady from Philadelphia suggests that Mrs. Peterkin dump it out and make a new cup, and the family is amazed at the simple solution. Most of the episodes are in a similar vein, and there is no central story line or three-dimensional characters. It's difficult to predict whether modern youth will appreciate the silly and old-fashioned humor of the 1800s; they may simply find the Peterkins unbelievably stupid.