San Franciscans Franny Lord, 14, and her older sister, Valentine, 17, receive an invitation to spend a summer in their honorary aunt’s Greenwich Village apartment under the tutelage of Clover Leslie, a 28-year-old “sculptress” who acts as their chaperone and guide.
Not a lot happens in Silver’s winsome, softly nostalgic novel of tone and old-school sensibility, but action is hardly the point. “Inner life” is what should be strived for in this virtually conflict-free story that’s set in the bon ton present yet has the soft glow of the past. This is partially since, except for a couple of allusions to email and New York City’s High Line, the lovely ladies don’t seem to live in the modern world at all and, strikingly for city folk cultivating cosmopolitan attitudes, maintain an old-fashioned, suspicion-free innocence. Valentine experiences romantic love and its consequences for the first time, and Franny, who narrates the book, not only receives her first kiss from “an admirer who interests” her, but cultivates a new discernment and perspective. She leaves home wanting to be a singer and returns something else, equally creative and exciting.
This slender, slice-of-summer story may move at a languid pace, but it has charm to burn and will appeal to readers who appreciate a romantic aesthetic. (Fiction. 12-18)