BOOK REVIEWS

The Four-Story Mistake (Melendy Quartet) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-01-26 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 39 user ratings
ISBN:0312375999
LANGUAGE:English

"The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright was published in 1941 by Farrar & Rinehart. This is the second book of the Melendy family adventures. In this book, they move from New York City to the county to live in a house called the Four-Story Mistake. The house was built for a rich man with a large family. He was less rich by the time the architect finished the house – with only three stories. The fourth story is a little cupola on the top in an effort to give the house more height.
The children are a little apprehensive about moving to the country. But, they adjust quickly to the large, open spaces and the eccentric house. Throughout the book, there is the flavor of World War II. Oliver discovered the cellar and kept it a secret for a very long time considering that he is only seven years old. The children build a tree house high up in a tree. Rush gets stranded there during a storm, but the kindly Willy, the handyman finds him before things get truly awful.
The cupola has its own secret. A room with a large picture of a beautiful girl that has been boarded up for decades. The children discover that the picture is of Clarinda, one of the daughters of the rich man. She ran off to be a ballet dancer. Her father was so upset with her that he boarded up her room with the picture.
Throughout the book, there is the flavor of World War II. The children put on a show and collect enough money to buy a whole war bond and a half. Randy finds a diamond in the stream and sells it for $80 to buy a war bond and some presents for her family.
After the show, Mona is offered a job on a radio show a couple of afternoons a week and she jumps at the chance to earn some money to help the family and buy more war bonds. Rush starts teaching piano lessons after school for the same reason. The kids get along with people in the country and start to feel like they belong.
" said.

" I've enjoyed all of her books that I've read so far. " said.

" Sweet! Looking forward to the next one! " said.

" Once again, homey, eatable, delicious, lovely. The Melendys sure know how to enjoy life, don't they? " said.

"These children adapt to change and call for work and sacrifice very well. Along the way, they use their talents and creativity, as well as admire the same in others. They aren’t pictured as perfect, but the reader enthusiastically enjoys spending time with them.

A move from their home at the outskirts of the city to a three-story (it was meant to be four-stories) older home in the country begins this tale. Their friend from the previous book, Mrs. Oliphant, appears to cheer and help them as they adjust. They experience the four seasons more closely by getting out in nature and exploring the woods, brooks, and farm country surrounding them. They also explore their home more closely than the adults, and discover a hidden room on the third floor, a room with history!
" said.

"The funny thing is, the first thought I had when I started listening to this (audiobook) was, "This sounds boring, is there going to be any exciting story line to it?"

And then I just kept listening, and the story wound up taking me RIGHT back into my childhood, right back into that state of being a child that we lose in adulthood. Its that state of being that I usually only vaguely but very longingly remember. Its that state of being I am always trying to get back to.

And THIS STORY unlocked that for me, that clear memory and feeling of what it is to truly be PRESENT. And I see now that the gift of presence cannot come without boredom, for boredom is the sign that the mind is not leading the state of being at the moment. Boredom is IMPORTANT for children. Its important for all of us. We have come to fear it and are intolerant of it it in our modern world of endless distractions.

This story felt like it was the story of my childhood. I remember the adventure and privilege I felt growing up in an old historic house, with unusual and unique architecture, covered over doors, hidden antiques waiting to be discovered, and the likes. I remember the sheer pleasure in playing and exploring outside, in the barn, in the meadows, in the woods. I remember the delight in the SIMPLICITY of being alive, of being fully present. I can feel so keenly the safety and security and love of a father who cares deeply for his offspring and allows them independence.

I am very glad I listened to the audio version because the reader gave life to the story that I may not have been able to give if I were reading it on my own. I have been so far from the state of presence I had as a child that I think I would have read it in my head all wrong. I think I would have continued believing that "I must have exciting and dramatic story lines at all times!" and I would have missed out on this wonderful story.

This story opened and warmed my heart by reconnecting me with my child-self.

I am looking forward to reading more of the stories about the Melendy family, and enjoying other works by this author, who is now on my list of favorites. She is truly gifted in her story-telling and writing ability.
" said.

" Think of the things you enjoyed as a child, or the things you wished you could do. The Melendy children, among the four of them, probably did those things, or had those same wishes. " said.

" This series set in the 1940's captures so well the magic of childhood in the glorious days before the invention of the screen. In this book, the Melendy family moves to the idyllic countryside in a home that has an unfolding story of its own. Adventures abound for the four Melendy children with the influence of those clever twin sisters, Curiosity and Imagination. " said.

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