genre: young adult historical fiction
Two girls - both of whom arrive at Starkers Estate hoping for a brighter future. Anna would like to make a place for herself in the aristocracy and Hannah is looking for a safe haven since her German home was is longer safe for a half-Jew like herself. Only, neither of them end up where they belong and with war in Europe looming, they both feel its best not to make any more waves than necessary. So, someone is a kitchen maid who shouldn't be and someone is upstairs with the family even though she doesn't belong. What happens next is a classic case of Shakespearn mistaken identity as both Anna and Hannah try to get what they want most.
I actually really liked most of this. A few sexual references were a little jarring and parts were a bit darker than I'd anticipated but Hannah, especially, is a delightful character! She is strong and witty and I always liked being in her head - her passion and almost Amelia Bedelia-like ineptness were nicely paired with a vivacity, forgiveness and compassion that I really enjoyed. Although I had a hard time believing that people REALLY could be so dumb as to not know each other for so long, it was a cute story. I'd have liked a bit more from the ending and I still felt like the main romantic interest had some behavior he needed to account for but it was good enough.
However, then I saw on amazon that this book is recommended for 7th grade and up! Um, I don't agree! The subject matter is I'd say better suited to a high schooler's maturity and truthfully, the more I think about it, while I enjoyed reading it it really is a light and fluffy look at some very upsetting topics. I'm mulling it over in my mind and I wonder if it is sugar coating the plight of Jews escaping the machinery of Hitler's reich. I certainly wouldn't recommend it to teens before they at least read something like The Diary of Anne Frank or The Book Thief, to make sure they can somewhat understand the depth of terror and horror of that time period.