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The Education of Bet

Review

The Education of Bet

Bet comes into the world with the odds already stacked against her. Her mother is an unmarried maid in a 19th-century English mansion. When she is just four years old, her mother falls ill with typhoid and dies. But Bet isn’t the only one in the house who is orphaned from typhoid. Four-year-old Will, the son of the master of the house, loses both of his parents. When Will’s great uncle arrives to adopt him, he learns of Bet and decides to adopt her as well, saving her from the horrid orphanage. Bet’s future finally begins to brighten.

Bet and Will are raised like brother and sister in Will’s rich great uncle’s home. When they get older, Will must attend boarding school, while Bet takes on some of the household chores, like polishing silver. She is the lowly daughter of a maid, after all. But her benefactor refuses to group her in with the servants, preferring instead to keep her close and have her read to him as his eyesight gradually worsens. Bet loves to read and dreams of learning more. She is envious of Will’s schooling opportunities, but unfortunately society frowns upon the education of women. 

Then Will gets expelled from yet another boarding school. He detests school and would prefer the adventurous life found in the military. But following that dream would only break his great uncle’s heart, so he tries to face starting the next term at another new school. Then Bet has an ingenious idea, one that would allow them both the chance to pursue their dreams. Will would enlist in the military, while Bet takes his place at school --- disguised as a young man. Neither is prepared for the challenges and hurdles they are about to face, especially when Bet starts to fall in love with her roommate. Following one’s dreams can take a person to the most unsuspected --- and amazing --- destinations.

THE EDUCATION OF BET is clever, fun and spirited, and Lauren Baratz-Logsted has done an excellent job creating this memorable work of historical fiction. She has a wonderful writing talent that places the right words in just the right places for a magical flow. Throughout the story, she introduces essential ideas, like the importance of pursuing one’s dreams, working and playing hard, never giving up, and standing by one’s friends. She creates the perfect character to pursue these ideas with the high-spirited Bet, who is determined, intelligent, friendly, ambitious, courageous, funny and likable, even in her failures and shortcomings. The words and pages fly by with ease, with this enticing story coming to an end far too quickly.

The novel offers suspense, romance, danger, deceit and humor all wrapped up in a cleverly written package. Three cheers for Lauren Baratz-Logsted and her latest effort; this one’s a keeper! 

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on July 12, 2010

The Education of Bet
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

  • Publication Date: April 18, 2011
  • Genres: Historical Romance
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Graphia
  • ISBN-10: 0547550243
  • ISBN-13: 9780547550244