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More About Pixie: Mrs George de Horne Vaizey The Religious Tract Society

Misleading title alert! It needed a qualifier, ‘Some More About Pixie’ would be closer to it. She barely appears for a third of the book, and at the start, you could be forgiven for thinking the publishers had made a mistake, that the story content belonged to another title.

The story begins with Sylvia Trevor, convalescing from typhoid in a suburb in London, and her recovery threatened by low spirits and her fussy old maid aunt’s ways. A kind nurse lets her sit by the window one day, and Sylvia sees that Rutland Street is taken by a girl a little older than her and, Sylvia learns, three brothers. The girl turns out to be Bridgie O’Shaughnessy – ‘girl’ having the looser meaning it used to carry. Sylvia herself is twenty-one years old, but when she meets Pixie, she thinks her a very young sixteen, while I thought ‘Pot. Kettle. Black.’ In mitigation, Sylvia has been putting off making plans for adult life, because her father is working in Ceylon and she’s been in a holding pattern, waiting for his return to England for retirement. There is some worry about her foot – I have no idea if this was a typical complication with typhoid or if the author meant ‘typhoid’ as described on the NHS website. Genuine fear of becoming lame teaches Sylvia to cope better with minor irritations.

The story switches between Sylvia and the O’Shaughnesseys once they are introduced. They are Bridgie, who is sweet, but has, since ‘Pixie O’Shaughnessy’ been disappointed in love; queenly, temperamental Esmerelda/Joan, who has to learn what it is to be married (to a millionaire) and a mother; Jack, the ‘man of the house’ – and that a household that must learn economy, not something that comes naturally. And of course there is Pixie.

Homesick in Paris, Pixie returns to the bosom of her family in London, still very much herself, outspoken, loveable and beloved. Trying to help the family fortunes, she gets a job looking after two young girls, keeping them entertained and teaching them some French – Viva and Inda provide some belly-laughs. Pixie ultimately helps bring about more major changes for her family.

This is a more traditional late nineteenth/early twentieth girls story than its precursor, which had the Irish setting and the school. Pixie and her family are still remarkable and their approach to life a boon. The focus is a bit scattered between characters, as I said, although the episodic nature of the book is balanced out by big life moments for the older characters, which are utterly predictable, but convincing. De Horne Vaizey has a habit of delivering lessons for her readers that I don’t remember being so prominent in ‘Pixie O’Shaughnessy’. So, it’s entertaining, but much more conventional than the first book, and very much a sequel, in that it tells us more about Pixie, Bridgie, Esmerelda, Jack et al, and successfully introduces imperfect, but sympathetic Sylvia, so it’s more for fans of the first book than likely to gain equal popularity in and of itself.

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