3.06.2009

Secrets of Greymoor by Clara Gillow Clark, 176pp RL 3


Clara Gillow Clark's third book about Hattie Belle Basket, The Secrets of Greymoor, finds our heroine knee deep in another mystery, one that might save Grandmother from losing her mansion, Greymoor. When we first met her in Hill Hawk Hattie, she is living in a small cabin in the mountains with her father and her mother has just died. When Pa tells Hattie she is going to dress as a boy and help him with his logging work, she is too despondent to argue. That's how she finds herself passing as "Harley," the only girl ever to raft down the Delaware River in 1883, even if it is in secret. In her next book, Hattie on Her Way, Hattie finds herself up against snobby neighbors and rumors about the death of her mysteriously absent Grandfather. In Secrets of Greymoor, Hattie now knows that her Grandfather, who has just passed away, was in the Utica Insane Asylum for the last years of his life, but she does not know what he did with Grandmother's fortune...

As Grandmother's income dwindles, Horace Bottle, Hattie's tutor who also boards with them, much search for a teaching job elsewhere and Hattie is forced to go to common school, or what we now call public school. Still clinging to her upper class ideals, Grandmother notes that, "Only commoners go to common school. We are not common people." Despite this, Hattie is anxious to be among children her own age again, especially now that she has ostracized her snooty neighbor, Ivy Victoria. However, Hattie finds herself an outsider once again as the girls in the school assume that she is an upper class snob because she lives in a mansion on the hill and they want to know what she is doing at common school. Hattie manages to win some of them over with her tales of elaborate feasts and festivities that never really happen and promises to invite them to her next party when her Grandmother is out of mourning for her Grandfather. Not all the girls buy her story and this proves disastrous in the end. Another impeding disaster is the overdue tax collection notice that Hattie hides from Grandmother. The need to find money to pay the taxes and a cypher filled notebook that she finds hidden in her Grandfather's old overcoat send Hattie on a hunt for hidden treasure inside the walls of Greymoor. And, while she finds the treasure, she can't save Greymoor and an auction ensues. But not before Hattie and Ivy Victoria tentatively renew their friendship which leads to a helping hand from a surprising person. The end of the book finds Hattie writing a letter to her Pa, who, after taking reading and writing lessons from the school mistress falls in love with and marries her, asking for new overalls so she can take up where she left off when she boarded that raft heading down river. Now that Grandmother and Buzzard Rose are safe and settled and money is no longer a problem and Hattie has passed her entrance exam into the Academy where Horace is now a teacher, she can make good on her promise to return to the mountains for the summer, meet her new family and take up with her old best friend, Jasper.

While this book can be read on it's own, I highly recommend reading the first two books about Hattie, which establish interesting aspects of her personality and upbringing. Hill Hawk Hattie is rich with geographical and historical information as well as a compelling relationship between Hattie and her father. Hattie on Her Way shows Hattie learning to live in a new environment as well as finding out things about her mother that she never knew. They build perfectly on each other with Secrets of Greymoor depicting a more self-assured, but still proud and sometimes foolish, Hattie and sets the stage beautifully for what I hope is the next book in the series, one that finds Hattie readjusting to life in the mountains for the summer.


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