Each member believes she has a secret, inner gift, but it takes time to discover exactly what that is, and middle school demands vie constantly for their time and attention.
Inspired by the timeless literature of Dickens, Austen and all their favorite classics, the girls feel adventure coursing through their veins as they try to emulate heroines from a long-ago time, calling on their deepest inner reserves to battle their own modern-day enemies.
Most harrowing of all is the ultimate school bully, Espin Alldread, expelled from the nearby prep academy, who may be even more sinister than he first appears to be on the grounds of Merriweather Middle School.
The Merriweather Club boasts it's own poet laureate, Lucy Lyric, whose unfortunate home economics cooking disasters include a three- alarm fire requiring the intervention of the S.W.A.T. team and a local branch of the national guard.
Lettie Penn's comic hair- dyeing disaster brings her to the brink of a long- kept family secret.
Linda Hubb, Miss Merriweather's favorite, gracious, and refined niece, longs to join others dancing at the annual cotillion, but must dream from the confines of her wheelchair. Her nobility shines forth as she runs for student body president against none other than the malevolent Espin Alldread. Will grace win over brute force? Who will be named the conquerer?
Laney Penneypacker's move from her family's upscale Manhattan co-op to a tiny, run- down house in the town of Merriweather, is more than enough motivation for her to attempt some Dickensian cost-cutting measures at dinner time. But her serving of six entree' varieties of "Ketchup and one other ingredient" for dinner is an epic fail.
Miss Merriweather's classes in advanced etiquette at the famous abbey offers students the elegance of a time gone by, where young ladies were not bullied but put upon a pedestal by young gentlemen who embraced the code of chivalry.
At the enormous, ancient abbey, will the Merriweather Club members be able to forget their current- day problems for a few precious moments and experience the romance of a far-off time?
Dressed in elegant cotillion clothes, they can pose gracefully at the top of the marble staircase and float down to meet a dashing partner ready to waltz away the evening.
There, at the abbey, can they dance to their heart's content or will something in the place itself bar them from their dreams? What mystery lies at the heart of the abbey?
Their fearless leader, Laurel LeMay, adds the club's ongoing mystery of the month to make things even more intriguing. At the beginning of the school year, they are mystified by the latest secret surrounding Merriweather Abbey: where are the two missing portraits in the ballroom? Why will Miss Merriweather herself not even admit the paintings have disappeared? And just what is the secretive butler, Rubay Omar hiding from them all?
Buoyed by their admiration of courageous heroines from classic literature, the club members arrive at the abbey hoping to be as brave as any of Jane Austen's own characters.
The promise of an elegant costume ball, a summer cotillion and first love make for a rousing adventure sure to inspire young readers everywhere.
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About the Author
For a brief time during a childhood illness, she was tutored at home by her father, the now, late Leland Stanley Forrester, editor and Chief White House correspondent for the Chicago Tribune's Washington D.C. bureau.
In a home filled with classic literature, Kathryn and her brother James were also greatly inspired by their mother, the late Mary Griffin Forrester, who was a talented actress herself, appearing in local community theater productions after graduating from the Theatre School of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
Kathryn returned happily, albeit less physically strong, to elementary school but junior high included a brief experience of elective mutism and other symptoms not yet understood at the time. Despite these challenges, she began to write her first poems at the age of thirteen, encouraged by devoted teachers at every turn.
In high school, under the direction of the late, much lauded drama coach Dorthie Kogelman, Kathryn found the theatre boards a great escape from everyday life, and launched into a love of the dramatic arts and writing that sustained her for life.
After decades of mis-diagnoses, Kathryn was definitively diagnosed as a highly functioning autistic, and to this day writes and makes appearances in support of people with challenges of all kinds.
She was named a poet laureate of Virginia in 1994 and was subsequently emeritized by the same general assembly in 1996. She continues to encourage people of all ages through her writing via her own, humble "Anthem Press."
Her "Anti-violence through the medium of poetry" campaign was highly esteemed by the governor's office, and the anti-bullying message she brings through her writing is a clarion call for a return to compassion and a re-appreciation of classic manners which are much-needed in our era.