I love, love, love this book. The writing is fantastic, the pace is pitch-perfect, the characters are complex, the storyline is engaging, and there is a plot turn in the latter pages of the book that I did NOT expect! Warming all these elements like a cozy blanket over cool skin is how adeptly Laura Amy Schlitz draws you in to the atmosphere of the turn-of-the-20th-century setting.
Not to be too silly about it, but the storyline could be roughly explained as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels meets Oliver Twist meets Arsenic and Old Lace. There is a great con taking place at a wealthy seaside resort, a poor, yet spunky orphan (only shes not a boy - shes 11 year old Maud Mary Flynn), and spinster sisters who sometimes seem to mean well, but have a funny way of showing it.
For those of you who like to keep score, I cheer the fact that there is NO language, NO violence, and NO sexual content in this book. Its character-driven, thought-provoking, and unwaveringly clean fun.
I also applaud the sincerity of this book. The characters are not one-trick ponies - you alternately like them or dont, think theyre clever or cruel. Theres an honest look at each of their strengths and weaknesses, and also the integrity of their motives. In short, I think theres a lot of heart in these pages, along with a crisp, original story.