Audiobook Review: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie BerryThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
Narrator: Jayne Entwistle
Length: 9 hrs, 24 mins
Published by Listening Library on September 23, 2014
Genres: Historical, Humor, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce. 

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong. 
 
Julie Berry's The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place was the sort of middle grade novel I simply had to read. Mostly because I snicker every time I read the word “prickwillow” because I’m a very mature, grown up sort of person. Not to mention the fact that historical novels are fabulous and scandalous girls are generally pretty fun. Who wants non-scandalous heroines? If I want to read about boring girls who make boring choices, I could write a book about my childhood. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is every bit the “rollicking farce” promised in the book’s blurb, and it was an utter delight.

Farces are not everyone’s tea and scones. Frankly, tea and scones are not my tea and scones. The Scandalous Sisterhood is utterly madcap and ridiculous. If you like things to be neat and orderly and realistic, this book will seem like a bit of silliness and be frustrating. Personally, I don’t so much mind my books not making a lick of sense so long as they’re doing so intentionally.

The book opens with the death of the indomitable Mrs. Plackett and her brother, Mr. Godding. The girls of the school then decide that, rather than risk being sent to their various homes, they will pretend that nothing is amiss, so they bury them in the garden. It’s obvious from page one that this will not work out as planned, but it sets a hilarious romp in motion and I am all for it. Serious mysteries often fail to capture my attention, but I was totally on board for everything happening in The Scandalous Sisterhood.

The characters, though not fully fleshed out, are more developed than the adjectives attached to their names might indicate. There’s more to Smooth Kitty than her smoothness, to Dull Martha than her lack of intelligence, to Disgraceful Mary Jane than her flirting. The character names are often said in conjunction with their adjective, and, though not my favorite aspect, it also did help keep the girls separate in my head. I think it also beautifully highlights the reasons that these girls have been shipped off to St. Etheldreda’s School for Girls by their families; they’ve been cast as one-dimensional and not worth keeping about. The course of the book shows how much more there is too them.

The best surprise of The Scandalous Sisterhood was the shippiness. I totally do not expect a lot of shipping in my middle grade novels. Actually, I think The Scandalous Sisterhood sits on the border between middle grade and YA, and that YA readers should consider this too, even if they don’t generally do middle grade. Most of the girls get a ship of some sort. It’s also nice that not all of them sail, so it’s not a total pairing off. I think my favorite was the hilarious pairing of Dour Elinor with a young man who excels in the funerary arts. The romance isn’t the largest element, but I super appreciated it being there.

I actually received a print ARC of The Scandalous Sisterhood as well, but, due to all the BEA books, I didn’t manage to get to it in time. Then I had the option of the audiobook, and I could not resist. This was a most excellent choice, though I’m positive the book is just as much fun in print. Jayne Entwhistle fulfills my three main qualifications for an excellent narrator: 1) she’s completely willing to be silly, 2) she does a fabulous job with voices, and 3) she’s British. This audiobook was such a pleasant way to pass the time.

The Scandalous Sisterhood was the perfect bit of silliness. It’s been a long time since I read a farce, and it was so perfect for my mood.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif a little princess
It’s like this plus Weekend at Bernie’s. Make of that what you will.

6 responses to “Audiobook Review: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry”

  1. Nori says:

    I’m so glad you liked this one! I have a copy for review, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. The description definitely made this book sound like something either I’d absolutely love, or very much not like. Glad to know it sounds more like something I’d love.
    Nori recently posted…Challenge: Re-Read 2015My Profile

  2. […] Reader of Fictions reviews The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, narrated by Julie […]

  3. Ooh shipping! And a historical! I like silly novels personally, ones with puns and wink winks and the like. Will definitely have to get this at the library 🙂 It sounds fun!

  4. Gillian says:

    I lurrrrrved this book for all the reasons you said. Such fun! Such shippery! Madcap farcery! Wheee!
    Gillian recently posted…Review: Geek Girl by Holly SmaleMy Profile

  5. I’m so sad I passed on the ARC of this now! It sounds awesomeeeeee and SHIPPING IN MIDDLE GRADE?! Ugh, past Debby, you are an idiot.
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…2014 FavoritesMy Profile

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