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Julie Berry

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

Julie Berry The Scandalous Sisterhood Of Prickwillow Place
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Biographical note:

Julie Berry has never solved a murder or attended boarding school. Her manners are decidedly improper. But she is part of a scandalous sisterhood. She's the youngest of seven children, six of whom are girls, and if they'd ever had a chance to conceal a corpse and run a school, they'd have jumped on it. Today she lives in eastern Massachusetts with her husband and their four sons and two cats.

Excerpt from book:

CHAPTER 1

 

Each Sunday afternoon at Saint Etheldreda’s School for Young Ladies on Prickwillow Road in Ely, Cambridgeshire, the seven enrolled young ladies were invited by custom to join Headmistress Constance Plackett while she entertained her younger brother, Mr. Aldous Godding, at the dinner table. The privilege of watching the headmistress and her regular Sunday guest consume the veal that they, the young ladies themselves, had prepared, more than compensated for the lack of sufficient veal for all the table to share. The girls had learned to be content with buttered bread and hot beans, Sundays upon end. Such self-denial would serve them well in their future callings as wives. This was Mr. Aldous Godding’s firm belief, and his sister, the widow Mrs. Plackett, with years of matrimonial experience behind her, could only agree.

On one particular Sunday evening in May, midway through the meal, Mrs. Plackett sopped her plate with her bread, took a bite of it, and let the morsel fall to the floor, whilst her head lolled back upon her shoulders, and her eyes gazed blankly at the ceiling. She shuddered. She shook. She let out a choking cough, then fell silent.

“What’s the matter, Connie?” her brother demanded between mouthfuls. “Speak up, woman. It isn’t decent goggling about like that. Pass the pepper, Missy.” This he addressed to Disgraceful Mary Jane, who sat nearest to him, but he neither knew her name nor the source of her disgrace. All the young ladies were “Missy” to him.

Disgraceful Mary Jane passed the pepper. Mr. Godding used it liberally, ate a bite of veal, laid down his knife and fork, touched his beard with his napkin, and rose from his seat. He made his way around the table to where his sister sat, raised his arm to thump her back, then choked, clutched his throat, fell forward, and landed on the floor with a thud that reverberated up the legs of the chairs upon which the seven young ladies sat.

“Dead, I imagine,” Dour Elinor observed.

Smooth Kitty slipped from her chair and went softly to the headmistress’s side. She plucked the spectacles off Dull Martha’s nose, polished them on her sleeve, then held them in front of Mrs. Plackett’s limp mouth. She watched and listened closely. The other girls hung poised for the verdict, their forks frozen in mid-bite.

Smooth Kitty, satisfied that no breath had fogged the glasses, nodded and placed them back on Dull Martha’s nose. “Dead as a kipper,” she pronounced.

“Eugh,” Dull Martha sputtered. “You made a dead person breathe on my glasses!”

Pocked Louise opened her mouth to correct Dull Martha, but Smooth Kitty shook her head slightly. Pocked Louise, the youngest of the girls, was accustomed to her older schoolmates bossing her. She kept still.

Dear Roberta covered her face with her hands. “But this is awful! Hadn’t we ought to call Doctor Snelling?”

“Bit late for that,” Dour Elinor responded. “Louise. Check the other one.”

Pocked Louise, the resident scientist, approached the fallen form of Mr. Aldous Godding cautiously. As his face was mashed against the floor, it became clear to her that she must touch him in order to turn him over, a thought which wrinkled her pox-scarred nose into a fright of disgust.

“Go on,̶

"Immensely entertaining, smart, and frothy." - The Horn Book

"... beautifully written, with rich vocabulary, charming details, spunky dialogue, and plucky heroines . . . delightfully zany." - VOYA

*"Romance blooms in unexpected places, and danger lurks around every corner in this delightfully farcical tale, full of twists and turns." -Publisher's Weekly STARRED REVIEW

 


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