Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Book Review: The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright (1942)

The Four-Story Mistake is the second book in the Melendys series by Elizabeth Enright, following The Saturdays (1941). In this book, Mona, Rush, Randy, and Oliver, along with their father and Cuffy and Willy Sloper, move from New York City to a country house known as the Four-Story Mistake. The house has some architectural anomalies that give it its name, but it's the perfect home for these four children. While World War II rages on elsewhere, the Melendy kids enjoy a year of indoor and outdoor adventures, including the uncovering of a secret about their new home. 

I happened to be reading this book aloud to my kids during our visit to my mother-in-law. It was such a surprise to all of us when she recognized the story and told us this had been her favorite book as a child. After we finished the book, I could absolutely see why. Even more so than in The Saturdays, in this book these child characters come fully to life. They and my kids may be separated by decades, but their interests - in nature, in drama, in secrets, and in imagination - are as similar as can be. The fact that a war is taking place also gives the book a bittersweetness, and for the adult reader, there is a strong feeling of nostalgia and an awareness that childhood is fleeting. 

This is the quintessential realistic fiction book and it was a lovely read-aloud for my older three girls ages 3, 5, and 7. I had originally not really planned to finish out the series, but this book has changed my mind completely. This was a very strong five-star read and I look forward to reading it aloud again when the twins are old enough to enjoy it. 

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