15 March 2004

Standing Pat

I've recently made the acquaintance of Miss Patricia Fairfield via the realm of e-books, and so far it's been a lovely association.

Patty is the creation of novelist Carolyn Wells, who, if I'm permitted to judge Patty against the one Wells mystery I have read, Raspberry Jam, was a heck of a lot better children's book writer than adult novelist.

Patty Fairfield is the only child of an alternately serious and indulgent father. Her mother died when she was three, so Patty and her dad are very close. On her fourteenth birthday, after the two have lived like gypsies for years, Dad proposes that Patty stay three months apiece with four of different relatives while he winds up some overseas business deals. Then at the end of that year he will rejoin her and they will settle down in a place of their own choosing.

But first Dad warns her about having a sense of "proportion," which she understands better once she's on her travels. Patty's four sets of relatives turn out to be like the three bears' porridge with one place setting added: one is polite-but-snobby, one is so busy with clubs and good causes that humor and feelings are forgotten, and another is so flyaway and careless that accidents are always happening. Luckily the fourth family is "just right" and it's here that Patty finds her home--but don't just listen to my summation; download Patty Fairfield and join in the fun at the Hurly-Burly and elsewhere.

I'm now in the second book of the series, Patty at Home, in which the Fairfields have acquired not only a lovely house, but in which Patty is happily keeping house helped by two eccentric servants, young Pansy Potts the budding horticulturist turned waitress and Mancy Jackson, the cook. Mancy, is, of course, the standard stereotypical black servant of the day (her full name is "Emancipation Proclamation"), but thankfully she is not used for "humorous" racist comic relief. In fact it's Mancy's down-to-earth comments that try to quench Patty's high-flying ideas about keeping house, especially cooking.

There are a few more online and I hope more upcoming, for I enjoy Patty's company and can't wait to see what she's up to next.