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Peppermints in the Parlor: 11/17/10

cover art

When I was in the library The Perils of the Peppermints caught my eye. Knowing my personal history of reading books out of order, I decided to check first before grabbing it. Sure enough, it's a sequel. I opted to read the original first, Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace.

A young well to do girl, Emily Luccock, is sent to live at Sugar Hill Hall in San Francisco after the untimely death of her family. She remembers happy times there with her aunt and uncle and is shocked to see her aunt now working as an employee in the old family home! The house has been changed into a rest home, run by a strict and stingy matron. Emily does what she can to save her family and uncover the sinister plot behind the house's transformation.

The title refers to a tempting bowl of peppermints left in the parlor that are only there for the matron and her guests to eat. The residents and employees will be punished if they are caught eating from the bowl. Punishment includes being locked in a dark room with only a bench to sit on.

I really wanted to like the book but there were things that just bugged me. First and foremost was the location, San Francisco. Now as it turns out, the author did spend some time living in San Francisco in a white mansion with ties to the sugar industry but somehow the San Francisco in her novel didn't ring true for me. Except for the sugar connection and the ever present fog, the city could have been any city.

The other biggest draw back for me was the way the dialect was rendered. The house servants and the fishmonger's boy (unfortunately named Kipper) all speak Dick Van Dyke cockney. It's San Francisco so why are they talking like that? If you want to know what the old San Francisco accent sounded like, listen to Granny in the Sylvester and Tweetie cartoons.

That being said, I still want to read the sequel, The Perils of the Peppermints.

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