THE RUNAWAY by Elizabeth Anna Hart

TheRunawayTHE RUNAWAY by Elizabeth Anna Hart was originally published in 1872, and tells the tale of an excessively conscientious, well-brought up young lady named Clarice, and what happens when she comes across another young lady, Olga, whom she finds in the garden.

Kind-hearted Clarice, intrigued by her naughty guest, successfully hides her in her large rambling Victorian mansion. But what trials she undergoes. The worst is (gasp!) lying to her dear Papa. Then there is Olga herself, who is not a well-brought up young lady, but rather a mischievous sprite who seems unable to keep herself out of trouble. Instructed, repeatedly, by Clarice to sit still, Olga draws attention to herself by climbing on walls, trees, roofs, posing as a ghost, and generally creating a merry mayhem in Clarice’s quiet, serene and oh-so-respectable household.

The best part about this tale are the various descriptions of Olga. Here is how Mrs. Hart describes her when Olga first sees her:

A head slowly and cautiously protruded itself from among the bushes, a head covered with such short, crisp golden curls that for a moment she thought it must belong to a young and handsome boy, but the sweet little fair face was too entirely feminine, and with a push, a scramble, a jump, and almost a fall, a body followed the head, and a girl of about her own age, or perhaps younger, stood opposite to her, panting, blusing, laughing a little, and then putting her finger on her lips and saying “Hush! hide me; please hide me; hush!”

I thought this book charming, and a great way of learning about a forgotten age, Victorian England. Four stars. A bookclub recommendation.

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