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Aunt Jane's Nieces

L. Frank Baum

Book Overview: 

Jane Merrick is a wealthy, elderly, difficult invalid woman who is preparing for her approaching death. In her youth, she inherited her money and estate from her fiancé, Thomas Bradley, who died before their wedding took place. With no children of her own, she calls for her three teenage nieces to visit her, so she can decide who will inherit her estate. They are Louise Merrick, Elizabeth De Graf, and Patsy Doyle, children of Jane’s younger brother and sisters. Each of the three cousins is a different type.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .enneth and prepare him for college; but either the tutor was incompetent or the pupil did not apply himself, for at twenty Kenneth Forbes was very ignorant, indeed, and seemed not to apply himself properly to his books.

He was short of stature and thin, with a sad drawn face and manners that even his staunch friend, Silas Watson, admitted were awkward and unprepossessing. What he might have been under different conditions or with different treatment, could only be imagined. Slowly climbing the stairs to the little room Kenneth inhabited, Mr. Watson was forced to conclude, with a sigh of regret, that he could not blame Miss Jane for wishing to find a more desirable heir to her estate than this graceless, sullen youth who had been thrust upon her by a thoughtless request contained in the will of her dead lover—a request that she seemed determined to fulfil literally, as it only required her to "look after" Tom's relatives and did not oblige her to leave Kenneth. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is a rather surprising work by L. Frank Baum (of Wizard of Oz fame), writing under a pseudonym. The basic plot is a bit contrived (a rich old woman invites her three nieces to visit so that she can decide to whom to will her estate). The characters are a little stereotypical but decently drawn.

eponymous sentence:
p33: "I know nothing about them," said the lawyer, "so I can't vouch in any way for Aunt Jane's nieces...."

p22: "But if you took it out Jane would think the girl had kept tit money, after all, and would be even more incensed against her."

p31: The boy glanced at him, but answer

I was pleasantly surprised by this book, although I can't say that I was truly overwhelmed by it. It was a pleasant story, and each of the nieces had distinct personalities that showed once again that Baum (who used the pen-name Edith Van Dyne) really felt that girls/women had as much logic, practic

This is a book I've been meaning to read for some years, and now I'm very pleased to have done it. Although stale tropes, archaic gender roles, and a brief moment of antisemitism lose it the perfect score it would otherwise have earned, L. Frank Baum's jovial good humour and frank writing are unmist

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