Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (Scholastic Point, 2008)

Cindy: Given the choice, I would read Maureen Johnson (or books like hers) every week. This one could be a musical, with Auntie Mame come to town in the form of drama diva Amy Amberson. Following family tradition, Scarlett's 15th birthday gift is the key to a suite in their struggling Manhattan hotel with the charge to keep it clean. They rarely have guests anymore, but lucky her, Mrs. Amberson has landed on their doorstep, and in Scarlett's suite, and things get interesting. The aging actress spends as much time orchestrating Scarlett's life and problems as she does directing Scarlett as her chambermaid and personal assistant. Like any good musical there's a romance with communication problems, a Show-That-Must-Go-On (this one her brother's Hamlet production originally staged in a parking garage before it finds a new home) and other plot points, but just spending time with Scarlett and Mrs. Amberson in the quirky hotel kept me entertained. Here's hoping there's a sequel: Encore!
Lynn: Maureen Johnson rocks! Scarlett is looking at a summer of changing sheets and convincing the temperamental toilets to run in the family hotel. Then the alarming Mrs. Amberson, an aging and wealthy actress books for the whole summer and drafts Scarlett as her assistant. Mrs. Amberson is an unstoppable force and when you add a parking garage production of Hamlet, a gorgeous actor in the company whose kisses weaken Scarlett's knees, sibling career crises and a 30-year-old feud, you have a recipe for chaos that is laugh-out-loud funny. Johnson is really on her game here with a cast of quirky memorable characters, terrific dialog and intriguing relationships. I especially admire the nuanced portrayal of Marlene, Scarlett’s little sister who has survived cancer. I want to stay in this hotel - aging plumbing and all.


Kelly said...

I just discovered MJ when reading Let It Snow...loved her story best! Found your blog while looking for recommendations for which MJ book to read next...

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan said...

Kelly, I'd have a hard time picking a favorite, but 13 Little Blue Envelopes is up there. Key to the Golden Firebird is another personal favorite, but my baseball loving father died too young so it strikes a personal chord with me for that reason. Glad you found us and thanks for posting.--Cindy