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Judy and Punch by Ethel Turner

Judy and Punch (1928)

by Ethel Turner

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I realize I may be somewhat obtuse, but for people like me, this book needed a preface or some kind of introductory material. Without any indication to the contrary, I assumed at first that it takes place after the other books, or at least after Book 2. It is supposed to be Book 4, and the blurb in my edition says that it "completes" the series, so that sounds as if it is chronologically later. I therefore wondered who the Judy was in this book. Between book 1 and 2 the children change names - in the first chapter of Misrule (book 2) it introduces them all by name and age. "The General is six - answers to Peter" (or Rupert, or Jumbo, or Billy -- I never met such a confusing character); "Baby has become Poppet," also a nickname, so perhaps it was her. Judy's formal name on her luggage tag is Helen - Nell is a diminutive of Helen. But it's not likely to be Nell or Poppet, because both of them were born before the Judy of book 1 dies. Perhaps this is a very young sibling, or one of Meg's children, named after the beloved deceased sister? Suspicion that it is "that"Judy grows, but not until chapter 8, page 70-something, does a packet of letters from Misrule arrive and make it quite clear that this is a return to earlier times and yes, it really is "that" Judy. (I'm still not sure quite how old she is in this story. She seemed quite young in book 1.) She's not Nell, she gets a letter from Nell - how can one family have a Helen and a Nell?

Worst of all, the ending seems arbitrary - it felt as if a few chapters were left off. Judy has run away from boarding school, her escape described in great detail; then in a few paragraphs the story glosses over her experiences of privation and weeks of living rough, and abruptly stops before she arrives at her home. Was it a first draft, an incomplete manuscript cobbled together without the author's help? You'd think they could have cobbled a bit better than that. Altogether it's a bit puzzling, but the story has moments and passages of brilliance which I would not have wanted to miss. Judy's insouciant appearance at boarding-school dinner dressed in rummage-sale leftovers (because, in an attempt to be sent home, she has switched luggage labels with a random trunk at the railroad station) had me laughing out loud. When the intended recipient of the trunk, a young teenaged girl, finally appears and keeps broadly hinting to keep Judy's best dress, it's even funnier. ( )
  muumi | Dec 3, 2015 |
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Judy and Punch describes Judy's experiences at boarding school, including meeting a boy named Punch while they are both on the train on the way to school.
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