Friday, April 15, 2022

Literary Sewing Circle: Premeditated Myrtle Book Talk!


We have jumped right into the Spring 2022 Literary Sewing Circle round! Today's the day for some beginning book talk! How are you doing with the book? Have you started it yet? Finished it? Do you have any reactions you'd like to share? 

Here are a few questions to ponder today and for the next while -- whether you have begun reading, or you've only read blurbs & author interviews so far and still have something to say, join in! Although there might be a few spoilers in the questions and discussion below so if you haven't got too far yet you might want to come back to this post.

I'll add some of my own thoughts and you can reply to them or add your own impressions. If you want to hear other takes on a part of the book that you are curious about, leave your own questions in the comments, too. 

If you decided to pick up this book and read it for this round, why? Do you usually read children's/middle  grade books like this one, or is this a new genre for you? 

I read a lot of everything in my day job (librarian) and so have read a number of juvenile books - I used to be a children's librarian way back in the beginning of my work life. Lately I read more of the ones in the genres I'm interested in, which just happens to include classic mysteries. I enjoy the different levels in books like this, and have found some amazing stories.

What do you think of the relationships in this book? Are the characters realistic? Relatable? 

I think that the characters are really what makes this series work. The relationship between Myrtle and Miss Judson is such a wonderful one, with both support for Myrtle's curiosity and some adult guidance as well. She has a strong relationship with her father though it's a bit more Victorian in the sense that he is not always available to her. Even her prickly relationship with her Aunt Helena is interesting, and it's certainly believable that she would resent the bossiness and condescension she feels from her aunt. 

Where do you think Myrtle falls in the history of girl sleuths? How does she compare to other young sleuths of literature?

I think she's a great addition to the roster of girl sleuths! So many of them seem to be right at this age; moving from childhood into their own place in the world, and so consumed with curiosity about the world. Plus, they are clever and not yet afraid to show that cleverness. Also, because of her age, she's intelligent and curious but also a bit impulsive and inexperienced, which makes for a lot of drama. Myrtle reminds me of Flavia de Luce in many ways, another character (and series) that I loved, even if Flavia is operating 60 years after Myrtle is. 

Do you like the style of the book? The footnotes? Do you feel that the narrative style reflects the setting?

I feel that the author has captured the feel of the Victorian setting perfectly, while making it readable for modern juvenile readers. The style (especially the footnotes) entertained me a lot, but then I'm a sucker for amusing footnotes. I think she's included just enough detail to make the setting convincing and complex, while also not overwhelming a reader with too much of anything - the plot still engages and the characters are real and vibrant.

Is there anything specific  in the book that has sparked an idea for a project yet? Are you mulling over any ideas?

Many of the ideas I shared in the last inspiration post are ideas I've considered! I haven't quite decided where to go with my project yet, but lots of novelty fabrics are calling me. We will have to see...


  1. My copy came yesterday, so I jumped right in. As a former elementary school librarian, I used to read middle-grade novels, but not so many anymore. I like well-written middle-grade or YA novels because they can be more straightforward and without the distractions of adult angst, bad language, and gratuitous bad behavior. One of the folks who commented last week wondered about 12-year-old kids and whether they would REALLY be involved in solving mysteries. One of the high school librarians I worked with noticed that while there are many novels featuring middle-grade sleuths, there aren't so many YA murder mysteries solved by teen protagonists. I had the opportunity to discuss this question with a publishers' rep at an ALA Annual Conference one year. She said that the protagonists in mysteries for middle grade readers are frequently the precocious children of detectives or lawyers (like Myrtle), and therefore have unusual access to expert knowledge. Middle grade readers (typically ages 9 to 11 or 12, or slightly younger than the protagonist) are willing and able to suspend disbelief, so the plot convention works. Older readers, having more experience of the world, don't fall for it.

    As for looking for inspiration, I'm sticking post-it notes all over my copy . . .lace at the cuff . . .split skirts and bloomers. . .skirts with pockets. . . .I'm not at all sure where I'll end up!

    1. Hi Mary, I find your comments very interesting. I think it is the murder aspect which I find difficult for young readers. Although I have to remember computer games have a kill/death theme and children can become a bit remote to this reality. I wonder if the 'remoteness' is not as strong with computer games than when reading a book, and it can be a bit more real and 'scary' as the pages are turned. But then I am reading to my seven year old grandaughter. I will see what I think about this in five years time!

    2. Such an interesting discussion with the publisher's rep! I hadn't thought of it that way, but the willingness to suspend disbelief is a very good point. There are quite a few middle grade sleuths, and I wonder if it's also part of the development stage where readers are at the age where they are starting to become more independent and figuring out the world. Fascinating to think about.

      Glad there seems to be a lot of project inspo going on for you so far, as well! I keep changing my mind on what I should make :)

  2. So far I am two thirds through the book. It is an easy read. Despite being junior fiction which is fairly new genre for me, I am enthralled with who did it, and how it is all connected – the author has written it well to be able to achieve this and keep me wondering. Whilst a bit far reaching, I think there are some great concepts, but I will elaborate more when I finish as I am not sure I have worked it out.

    For the era it is written in, I think the characters relationship's are realistic. I agree the relationship between Myrtle and her father is very Victorian, and this is probably more evident without a mother figure in the family/story, as we focus more just on Myrtle and her father.

    Myrtle is clever for her age, possibly because of the influence of her father's career and her exposure to conversation about cases. He lacks an ability to speak comfortably with children. However to assume she can solve what professionals cannot is a little far fetched. It makes me think of people today who believe they know more than doctors (as an example) because they ask 'Google' and forget the four to six years the medical profession have had in study/practice/research etc. It definitely gives an insight to discussion, but to solve a murder …...
    As I have said previously, compared to The Famous Five who solve mysteries, but not murders, I would say Myrtle is on par although sometimes The Famous Five seem a little more plausible. This is probably also due to the inclusion of the antics of the cat, which really are a little unrealistic. But of course, things don't always have to be realistic. Imagination is a wonderful thing and a stepping stone for creativity and problem solving in life.

    Yes, I like the footnotes, and particularly the notes about good investigators at the start of each chapter .. it almost sets a feeling of a theme that will set that chapter up. I have never read a book which such notes as this. It would be interesting to know how a young reader feels about this.

    At the moment I have lots of ideas about sewing plans, although I wouldn't describe the book as rich in discussion on clothing. Whilst I often find clothing 'describes' characters, I wouldn't say this happens as frequently as some of the books we have read in LSC. At the moment I am still a bit erring on the side of a garden apron, because …... I need one, and one with lots of pockets! And I have some great cat fabric (somewhere) which would make a fabulous lining for a garden apron.

    1. Thanks for sharing so many thoughts on the book, Sara! There are some more imaginative bits (particularly Peony) but I enjoy it. I agree that it would be interesting to hear how young readers feel about the chapter heading notes and footnotes -- I don't have any young readers in my life to ask if they have read it so have to guess ;)

      I'll be interested to see what direction you go in for your project once you've finished the book!


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!