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In 1817 in England, two young cousins, Cecilia living in the country and Kate in London, write letters to keep each other informed of their exploits, which take a sinister turn when they find themselves ...
In 1817 in England, two young cousins, Cecilia living in the country and Kate in London, write letters to keep each other informed of their exploits, which take a sinister turn when they find themselves confronted by evil wizards.
"A cult epistolary fantasy . . . Beguiling."—Kirkus Reviews
"Older girls who have outgrown Harry Potter will like their slightly rebellious natures, the magical twists and turns, and especially the humor and quick pace."—The San Diego Union-Tribune
8 April 1817
Rushton Manor, Essex
It is dreadfully flat here since you have been gone, and it only makes it worse to imagine all the things I shall be missing. I wish Aunt Elizabeth were not so set against my having a Season this year. She is still annoyed about the incident with the goat, and says that to let the pair of us loose on London would ruin us both for good, and spoil Georgy's chances into the bargain. I think this is quite unjust, but there is no persuading her. (I believe the fact that she would have been obliged to share a house with Aunt Charlotte, should she and I have come to London this year, may have contributed to her decision.) So I rely on you, dearest cousin, to write and tell me everything! If I am not to be allowed to enjoy a Season of my own, I can at least take a vicarious delight in your and Georgina's triumph! I am quite convinced you will take London by storm.
Not that we are without amusement in Essex; quite the contrary! Aunt Elizabeth and I called at the vicarage yesterday and spent a stimulating afternoon listening to the Reverend Fitzwilliam discoursing on the Vanities of Society and the Emptiness of Worldly Pleasures. Aunt Elizabeth hung on every word, and we are to return and take tea on Thursday. I am determined to have the headache Thursday, if I have to hit myself with a rock to do it.
There is, however, a ray of hope. Lady Tarleton is to have a party for her niece next week. The invitation arrived this morning, and Papa says we are to go! And Aunt Elizabeth approves! She thinks it is to be an informal hop, as Lady Tarleton's niece is not yet out, but Patience Everslee told me in the greatest confidence that there is to be waltzing! I only hope Oliver will stay long enough to accompany us. He has been moping around the house like a sick sheep ever since you and Georgy left, and yesterday he asked Papa, very casually, whether Papa did not think it would be a good idea for him to go to Town this year for a week or two. He thinks he is being very sly, but if he puts off making his arrangements for another day or so Papa will have accepted Lady Tarleton's invitation and Oliver will be obliged to stay here until after the party. I have not, of course, pointed this out to him. Oliver has stated many times his dislike of hearing advice from his younger sister, so it is his own fault if he has not got sense enough to see which way the wind is blowing.
Aunt Elizabeth intends for the two of us to pay a call on Lady Tarleton and her niece on Monday, by way of improving our acquaintance before the ball (which is to say, she wants to have a look at the niece). I shall be on my best behavior, even if the niece turns out to be quite odious. There is no point in looking for difficulties the day before a party.
And there may be more excitement to come. Sir Hilary Bedrick has just been named to the Royal College of Wizards; the whole village is buzzing with the news. I suspect he was chosen because of that enormous library of musty old spellbooks at Bedrick Hall. He left yesterday for London, where he will be installed, but all of us expect great things when he returns. Except, of course, for Aunt Elizabeth, who looks at me sideways and says darkly that magic is for heathens and cannibals, not for decent folk. Perhaps that is why she holds Sir Hilary in such dislike. I would wager my best kid gloves that if it were not for Papa's interest in the historical portions of Sir Hilary's library, Aunt Elizabeth would have cut the connection ages ago.
Do, please, try to find me those silks I asked you about before you left, and if you should happen to see a pair of long gloves that would match my green crape, please, please send them at once! I should so like to look well at Lady Tarleton's party.
Give my love to Georgy and Aunt Charlotte, and do try not to let Aunt Charlotte bully you too much. And do, do write and tell me everything you are doing!
Your loving cousin,
10 April 1817
11 Berkeley Square, London
If you've been forced to listen to Reverend Fitzwilliam on the subject of the emptiness of worldly pleasures for hours together, I feel I ought to write something bracing to cheer you up. But after three days of a London Season I find it hard to come to the defense of frivolity with any spirit. Perhaps it will make Rushton seem more amusing to you if I complain vigorously. (Don't worry, I haven't said a word to anyone else, not even Georgina.)
First, there was our arrival in Berkeley Square, a very welcome event after a day spent in the coach with Aunt Charlotte complaining of her migraine and Georgina exclaiming, "Only look, a sedan chair!" at every opportunity. It was very late and we were very tired and soiled with our travels, too weary to feel the proper emotions on entering such a grand house for the first time. (Horace Walpole is by no means Aunt Charlotte's favorite author, but the opportunity to hire the genuine Mayfair town house he genuinely died in for the Season has given her a new appreciation of him and his works.)
Make no mistake, it is very grand. On the outside it is a high, narrow, polite-looking house built of brick. On the inside there is a high-ceilinged entrance hall with a marble staircase winding up two flights. On either side of the hall are reception rooms. The one on the right is called the blue saloon. It is very comfortable with a bow window overlooking the Square. On the left side of the hall is the drawing room, much grander than the blue saloon, furnished with lyre-back chairs, delicate sofas, and a spinet. There are velvet curtains in the windows and a highly polished marble floor, upon which I slipped and sat down hard as we were being shown about the house. This was my first piece of clumsiness in London, but I suspect it will not be my last. The general effect of the marble floor and ivory curtains is almost arctic. Only touches of primrose and black relieve the whiteness. At the top of the two flights of stairs are the bedrooms. Georgina's looks out over the Square and mine faces back into the lane behind the house. If I crane my neck I can see down into the kitchen garden-but there is nothing much to look at. Nothing to compare with the gardens at Rushton.
It seemed like a dream to me, following Georgina up and up the stairs-she like a kind of angel climbing to her proper place, her golden hair bright in the light from the lamps-me like a ramshackle shadow lurking after her, shedding hairpins and stumbling over the hem of my skirts.
The bedrooms are lovely, but that night they seemed grand and cold and I was a little dismayed to find myself in my own room all alone-can you credit it, after I schemed for years to get a room to myself? So I slipped in to Georgina to say good night and get my top buttons undone. Georgina was sitting at her window, trying to guess from the darkened glass what direction she was facing so she could say her prayers toward home. I turned her around and didn't tease her, even when I saw the lock of hair she had clenched in her moist little palm-Oliver's, tied up in a bit of pink ribbon. Can you believe it?
Well, as I say, I got her pointed in the right direction and she got me unbuttoned and told me that I had a smut rubbed clear across my forehead and a spot coming on my chin. (As if I hadn't been driven half-mad feeling it coming out all day long in the coach...) So we parted, she to her prayers and I to my bed, the highest, hardest, narrowest, dampest bed on four lion's paws (London would be grander still if they knew how to air their sheets).
Our first day in London was spent shopping, which means I kicked my heels while Aunt Charlotte and the modiste went into raptures over Georgina. The second day, we were taken to see the Elgin Marbles, which was interesting, and to listen to other people see the Elgin Marbles, which would make the eyes roll right back in your head with boredom. The third day, we went back to shopping and I was able to get gloves. Please find enclosed a pair that I think will suit your pomona green crape to perfection. I bought a pair for myself and have spilt coffee on them already. So you see London hasn't changed me yet.
I feel quite envious about Lady Tarleton's dance. Aunt Charlotte has spoken of Almack's but never yet without looking at me and giving a little shudder of apprehension. She intends to call on Lady Jersey tomorrow. If their acquaintance has been exaggerated (and you know that sometimes people do not care quite as much for Aunt Charlotte as she thinks they do), I don't know how we will obtain vouchers. It is plain, however, that without vouchers for Almack's Assembly, Georgy will never truly shine in Society, no matter how lovely she is. For my own sake, I hope I get to go, too. It would be a shame to have trodden Robert Penwood's feet black and blue learning to dance and then never to get a chance to put it to the test.
Do you think a wizard's installation would be a ladylike thing to attend? We passed the Royal College on the way to the Museum and I'm sure I could find my way.
Do tell me all about the dance and mention Oliver a little so Georgina doesn't sigh herself away entirely.
Copyright © 2003 by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
Posted June 15, 2012
Overall this was an enjoyable read. I didn't quite know what to expect from the cover and the title gave me the impression that this was more of a juvenile book. That was a very incorrect assumption. This book should be firmly placed in the YA category and would be especially enjoyable for older teenage girls or even adult women. The story is told in letters between Cecelia (Cecy) and her cousin, Kate. The interplay between the two is charming. They are both smart and witty among a slew of vapid women out to marry as well as possible. The element of magic is woven pretty seamlessly into early 1800's society. It's a main point to the plot but the author doesn't bash you over the head with big showy magic tricks.
The plot is entertaining, but not surprising. I enjoyed it while reading but when I put it down I didn't feel like I had to immediately pick it back up. Perhaps that's because I had a pretty good idea what was going to happen next. The plot was predictable. Everything is tied up neatly at the end and it is satisfying although not unexpected. If there were some kind of twist or anything at all out of the ordinary I would have given an extra star.
The real strength of this book is in it's dialogue. It is witty and funny and it's what I really liked best about the book.
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 2, 2013
This was a nice character driven story. It had a friendly, gossipy feel, and felt like a reading letters from high school friends. Kind of a light hearted Jane Austen, with a smattering of magic.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 1, 2012
Review:Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede
4 STARS This is an interesting background to writing a novel. They played a game called a letter game and would write letters back and forth in character and not mention plot. Now days if kids did that it would be short texts. I enjoyed it but would have been better if I read it instead of listening to my kindle. It broke and I could not look at screen if I was lost.(did not handle evacuating very well.) Thier is nothing in hear that is objectional unless you believe magic is wrong. The story two main characters never come in contact with each other except by letters. Kate and Cecelia are cousins and quite close till the summer of 1817. Kate was sent to come out for a season in London and Cecelia at home in her small country home. The two cousins tell each other everything that is going on. Thier is a world of magic that exists. This story is different and as an air of uniqueness to it. As they both battle in thier way against evil and find love along the way. I was given this ebook to read in exchange of honest review from Netgalley. 05/22/2012 PUB Open Road
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 4, 2015
Posted October 26, 2014
A clever way to write a book. Both authors are a delight and together they mix up lots of fun. I'm now reading the other books in the series and enjoying the lovely sillyness of them all.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 17, 2014
Posted March 11, 2014
A fun, light-hearted novel that Jane Austen could have written if she had magic on her mind. The series of letters format could have been annoying, instead it is charming. At times hilarious, this is a great novel for escaping the mundane realities of everyday life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 15, 2013
Posted January 21, 2013
This is one of my favorite fluff reads; it's an enjoyable adventure through a Pride and Prejudice-like era. The two heroines tackle magical mysteries without blinking an eye, and refuse to become damsels in distress, ever. They are perfectly ready to lend their aid to any magician who runs afoul of villains.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 27, 2012
Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer first published Sorcery and Cecelia under that that title in 1988. In recent years, thanks to reprints with shiny new cover art by Scott M. Fischer in the case of the edition I read as well as two new sequels, this book has regained popularity and visibility. Aside from that, one of the most important things to know about this book is its alternate title: The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country.
Wrede and Stevermer wrote this book as a writing exercise of sorts called the Letter Game. Patricia C. Wrede wrote as Cecelia while Caroline Stevermer responded with Kate's letters. They did not plan the plot before they began writing.
Almost every review I have found online describes Sorcery and Cecelia as a cross between the books of Jane Austen and those of J. K. Rowling. The comparison does make sense, but I might venture to say I liked this book better than any of the Harry Potter series.
The year is 1817 in an England where magic is as much a part of life as letter writing. The latter is of particular importance to Kate and Cecelia as the cousins spend the novel in separate parts of England. While Kate and her more glamorous sister Georgina are in London enjoying a proper Season, Cecelia, much to her consternation, is left to languish in the country with her brother Oliver for company (at least until he's turned into a tree).
Problems begin for both cousins when Kate accidentally intercepts a rather nasty pot of chocolate in a London garden that was, apparently, meant for the eccentric Marquis of Schofield. If only he would explain exactly why.
Meanwhile, in the country, Cecelia finds herself following a shady figure spying on Cecy's new (and surprisingly popular!) friend Dorothea. When Cecelia repeatedly catches him in the act of spying, James Tarleton repeatedly refuses to offer any information.
As the girls learn more about these mysterious men, and the mysterious events, it becomes clear that something big is happening--big enough that evidence of the plan can be seen in both London and the country. The only question is what, exactly, is going on and if Kate and Cecelia can stop it in time.
Being an homage to Jane Austen, this novel has not one but two romances. Which couple is better has been a hot topic since the book came out. The librarian who recommended the book to me feels very strongly that the Mysterious Marquis and Kate are a more enjoyable match to observe. For my part, I preferred Cecelia and James.
This novel avoids all of the traps that can make an epistolary novel awful. There is no repetition, there is dialogue, the narrative reads like a, for lack of a better word, normal book in that the narrative flows in a fairly traditional way. There is neither too much information nor too little. And, most importantly, the novel is filled with suspense, action, humor and romance that shines through both Cecelia's and Kate's letters.
But then from two talented and well-known fantasy writers, what else can a reader expect but perfection?
Sorcery and Cecelia is the first in a series of books featuring Kate and Cecelia. Their stories continue in The Grand Tour (2004) and The Mislaid Magician of Ten Years After (2006).
If the phrase "Pride and Prejudice with magic in" intrigues you, read this book. It's whimsical, occasionally hilarious, and phrases from it will mysteriously appear in your mind the next time you watch a Jane Austen movie. Highly recommended if you enjoy Jane Austen, Susanna Clarke, or Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles. (Also, if you like it, check out the sequels.)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 8, 2010
I didn't like this book in particular. The writing is great, and the way the book is set up is very unique, but this book was just not my cup of tea. The story wasn't that interesting and I had difficulty getting into the book. The book itself might be interesting to someone else, but it just seemed boring to me. I couldn't remember most of the secondary character either.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2009
I Also Recommend:
I really enjoyed Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot. The whole story is told by the letters the two main characters write to each other during the course of the book. These characters are the cousins Cecelia and Katherine, who happen to be best friends. Kate and her younger sister Georgy are off to London for a glittering first season while Cecy is left home in her family's estate in Essex. The mischief begins when Kate goes through a portal, is mistaken for someone else and is almost poisoned by an evil witch. Back in Essex, Cecy has befriended the beautiful Dorothea Griscomb, who's ability to make men fall in love her is just like magic. Both cousins are caught up in magical intruige, all during the backdrop 1817 England, the only difference being magic exists and is acknowledged. Sometimes humorous, sometimes suspenseful, and sprinkled with romance, this novel is a witty engaging tale that I would definitely reccomend.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2006
Posted November 15, 2005
I really enjoyed this book. It took a few pages to really get into the story, but once I did, I had fun reading through. The blend of friendship and magic is wonderful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2005
Posted May 15, 2005
This book is one of my favorites because I didn't want it to end. It's crazy, but in a good way. The way things are expressed is quite the times, and very interesting to hear gossip of society put in with the plot. This book is very interesting with a sense of humor. The book keeps you hooked, it doesn't move slowly!!! The magic put in adds some unpredicablilty, too. It's hard to believe that the authors didn't plan what they were supposed to do together!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2005
Kate and Cecelia rush into the thick of things and make their own trouble before sorting everything out. I am intrigued by the idea of writing letters back and forth in character in a 'letter-game.' I first read Wrede's Enchanted Chronicles a long time ago and this has been a very nice return to her stories. I am definitly looking forward to reading 'The Grand Tour.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 3, 2005
This book is so cool. I made our school library to order it because I wanted to read it, and it was every bit as good as I thought it was going to be! The coolest part of this book is the format that it is written in. The writers actually wrote this book in letters written back and forth to each other.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 2, 2005