THE ATROCIOUS TWO by Sheila Greenwald


Email this review


This starts out as an Understood Betsy with double vision. Instead of one spoiled urban brat shaping up after being shipped off to country relatives, now we have two--eleven-year-old Ashley and ten-year-old Cecilia Melton, who are sent off by their career-minded, can't-be-hassled parents to spend the summer in Connecticut with Great-Aunt Tessie and her Indian husband, Bear Flowers. Oddly enough we never really get a chance to see the ""atrocious two"" in action because once amid the Flowers, Cecilia and Ashley positively bloom, doing chores and helping to renovate Tess' crumbling Victorian mansion into a respectable guest-house. There's no real clash of wills between the stereotypically strict but caring relatives and their rich, overcoddled charges, no tug-of-war to involve us; and Greenwald herself seems aware of this since midway through the book she springs a new plot--a mystery, centering on who stole Bear's chest of handmade Indian jewelry. The culprit (a surprise to Cecilia but certainly not to readers) turns out to be rich, overcoddled Sage, the teenage daughter of boutique owners and obviously the jaded j.d. type Cecilia would have become had she not landed on Tessie's doorstep. To be sure, Greenwald's style is pleasant and zippy, and the time spent with Cecilia and Ashley passes very quickly; yet the insights here are primer-obvious and the twosome's reformation is too facile to be truly heartfelt.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin