Ever since the untimely death of her mother, 14-year-old Joan Skraggs has been desperately unhappy. Under the thumb of her cruel father and three sullen brothers, Joan lives like a servant on their farm just outside of Lancaster, forever cooking, cleaning, and attending to the many demands of the home. But she has little freedom and less support from her family for her love of reading and blossoming interest in education. But when her father tells Joan she can't go to school anymore, it sets off a journey that will see her become first a runaway, then a hired girl on $6 a week, and finally her very own young woman.
Set in America during the optimistic years before the First World War, and told through a series of journal entries, The Hired Girl is the story of a young girl in search of real life and true love. It takes in feminism and housework; money, religion, and social class; literature and education, romanticism and realism, first love and sexual yearnings, cats, hats, and bunions. And it's a comedy.
©2015 Laura Amy Schlitz (P)2015 Recorded Books
Laura Amy Schlitz is a favorite author of mine and THE HIRED GIRL is now my favorite of her works. The narrative voice is unforgettable, reminiscent of Anne Shirley from Lucy Maude Montgomery's classic. Set in 1911, Joan/Janet is an intelligent, fourteen year old girl with a fierce desire to educate herself and be more than a housekeeper and farm hand to her brutal father and three brothers. She runs away to Baltimore where she lies about her age and finds herself taken on as the hired girl in the Rosenbach household. There, she is educated in so many disciplines, from literature to philosophy to religion, art and love. Her diary recounts all her painful, childish mistakes and her exuberant joys over the course of six months, picking up a year later as she is about to begin a new phase of her life. Schlitz's writing is magnificent and so authentic and Rachel Botchan's reading captures Joan's voice beautifully. All girls need to read THE HIRED GIRL.
Although this book is written for teenagers, which I am not, it very much had my attention throughout. It's a great story and that is just what I was looking for right now.
It reminded me of Anne of Green Gables - a high compliment indeed!
Joan/Janet: of course. I admired her courage, though she made mistakes typical for a 14-year-old. Mimi was terrific too. She's a little spitfire.
The climactic scene had me cringing ("Don't go there!") and then laughing at one character's big reveal.
It got me out of the house with my dog on the coldest days of this California winter - I wanted to hear what happened next.
The story was only exceeded by the narration. Brava to both artists!
Excellent & entertaining historical fiction. Awesome characters! Well done. The synopsis just doesn't do it credit. Don't hesitate - great listen.
I loved the intertwining of a Jewish family and the innocence of a Gentile 14 year of girl who is introduced to evil and her ability to reject it and recognize good and to call out evil as well. I loved Joan/Janette's reaction to her first kiss. I am in my 50s now and nearing 60 and it brought back memories of my own when I was a teenager and my first kiss. I cannot put into words how sweet this entire story was to me. I am a gentile and I love the Jewish people and this story was a joy to read.
Rachel had the wonderful ability to pronounce Yiddish and she played Malka beautifully. Her entire performance was so enjoyable.
There maybe reviews that talk about this book only being for teenage girls but I have to say I disagree. It is refreshing to experience a story from the eyes of a young girl who runs away from a horrible father seeking a better life and willing to work hard. Though her life has been hard, she has not become hard and still has a sweet innocence not seen very often anymore and a sincerity about herself. Her struggle with truth and honesty and repentance. I smiled as I listened to her become a part of the Rosenbach family and it touched my heart. This is one of my favorite books I have heard/read in years. If the world and all its pornography has not crept inside your heart and if you enjoy talented writing and performances, if you love the Jewish people or are interested in how two different families with different religions live in one home, you will enjoy this book as well.
I may actually go back and listen again, which is something I don't often do. the character was strong and naive. reminded me of another favorite Midwifes Apprentice with humble beginnings and enobling finish...
Wonderfully creative prose in a simple tale that could have been boring, or worse, ponderous, if the author was't so darn talented. Loved every line and colorful character.
Wonderful story of a bright 14 year old girl in 1911 who leaves a miserable home situation and finds a new life (as a ‘Hired Girl’) in Philadelphia. This would be a fairly charming story of life at that time and of growing up (probably not a story for guys) except for the reader who turns the whole tale into something marvelous. Her voice of the girl as she becomes a young woman and the overall performance is brilliant.
This book is somewhat like Jane Eyre which the title character references frequently.
This is the first performance of hers I've experienced but I will certainly look for more.
A delightful and informative story about Jewish tradition vis a vis Catholic doctrine in 1911 Baltimore. Anyone who's straddled both worlds will greatly enjoy the adventures of a lovable 14 year old narrator.
This book is a real jewel.
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