Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Book Review: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright (1941)

The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright was originally published in 1941, and is the first book in The Melendy Quartet. The Melendy children - Mona, age 13, Rush, age 12, Miranda (Randy), age 10, and Oliver, age 6, live with their widower father, and a housekeeper named Cuffy, who serves as their surrogate mother.

In this book, the kids, led by Randy, decide to pool their allowances each week, to allow one member of the family to spend Saturday doing something he or she loves outside of the house, and without any supervision. They form a club dedicated to this purpose, and name it the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club, or I.S.A.A.C. Each chapter of the book covers a different Saturday, as the reader follows each child to his or her chosen activity.

The concept of this book is wonderful, and it's what grabbed my attention in the first place. But a good portion of it was spoiled for me because adults kept stealing the spotlight! At least two of the chapters digress into long-winded stories told by secondary characters the kids meet on their adventures, thus robbing me of the enjoyment of seeing kids on their own in the streets of New York City, something that would be just plain unsafe nowadays. I wished so much that the kids had actually been more independent.

For the most part, I enjoyed the old-fashioned feeling of this book, and the writing style really appealed to me. The only thing that bothered me was that Elizabeth Enright was very fond of similes and metaphors, and after a  while, I felt like I was tripping over them. I also thought they reminded me of the author's presence too often. Figures of speech cropped up no matter whose point of view we were supposed to be in, and they all sounded like they came from the same voice.

The tail-end of the book is really great, though. Oliver gets a chance to have his own Saturday, and being in his six-year-old mind is a definite treat. I thought his story was the only one that fully lived up to the spirit of I.S.A.A.C.


  1. Loved this one growing up--was particularly impressed by Mona getting her hair cut and nails done, for some reason! :-)

  2. I just recently purchased this quartet of books to read aloud to my girls. Thanks for reviewing them, so I can get a "feel" for what they're about. I'm looking forward to the rest of your Melendy reviews.