The Willoughbys

I finished "The Willoughbys" by Lois Lowry the other day. Because I'm one to judge a book by it's cover I thought, "This is the type of book I'd love!" The Gorey-esque cover illustration (also done by the author) promised to contain a very wry, dark tale in the vein of Lemony Snicket.

I was disappointed. A lot at first but as the story progressed, everything that I didn't like about it disappeared and it turned out to be rather lovely.

There are four Willoughby children: Tim, Barnaby A, Barnaby B, and Jane. Their parents don't like them. They don't like they're parents. In order to rid themselves of each other, the children suggest that their parents take a very dangerous vacation. The parents agree, hire a nanny and, without the children knowing, arrange for the sale of their house and head off.

In the meantime, the children don't treat each other very well, the oldest Tim is quite the bully. The twin Barnabys only have one sweater to share every other day. Jane is quite timid. They discover that an infant has been left on their doorstep and are charged with disposing of it. They leave it on the doorstep of a reclusive billionaire and hope to never hear of it again.

Turns out that the nanny who is hired is a rather good cook, has a sense of humor, would make a very decent parent, and tends to turn the story from outrageously depressing to quite pleasant. Her pleasantness changes the dispositions of the children too, which is great. Needless to say, their lives are quite quickly intertwined with the lives of the reclusive billionaire and the young orphaned infant.

Things turn out happily-ever-after. The story does tout itself as being and old fashioned tale (hence the orphans, the reclusive billionaire, the quirky nanny, etc). It's okay, though. I was really sick of the nastiness that had prevailed through the first half of the story. It was clever like Snicket. It was just depressing. It ended well, though, and still contained a little bit of the darkness that attracted me to it in the first place.

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