UNCLE GEORGE WASHINGTON AND HARRIOT'S GUITAR by Mariam Anne Bourne

UNCLE GEORGE WASHINGTON AND HARRIOT'S GUITAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the rather pallid line of Bourne's Bicentennial-era ""diaries"" of our early Presidents' young female relations, this straight narrative deals with Harriot Washington, George Washington's orphaned niece, who lived for a while at Mount Vernon and then, with the President presiding in New York and later Philadelphia, with whatever relative was willing to keep her for the time. There are quotes from several letters, in which Harriot asks Uncle to send her a guitar. It seems that all the girls have them. Growing fast, Harriot must also ask for clothes money as each season finds her old clothes outgrown. Harriot seems to hold something of a stepchild status among the many young relatives Washington helps out; but at last, receiving a good notice from her current resident Aunt, the now 17-year-old Harriot gets her guitar. Bourne ends with a little incident wherein Harriot pleases her visiting Uncle by answering a mocking-bird song on her guitar; and an afterword informs us that at 19 ""Harriot did meet a man who became her husband and gave her a home of her own."" The wedding is hasty, as Harriot explains to Uncle after the fact: ""Aunt Lewis going immediately to Berkeley County to stay until fall, and finding it not convenient to carry me with her, wished us married before she went."" It's a mildly pathetic little story, with the guitar as a sort of artificial focus, since Harriet shows no evidence of a passion for music. Readers in our shopping-mall culture will be more struck by the fact that George Washington's ward had to plead apologetically for clothes that fit.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1983
Publisher: Coward-McCann