From the publisher:
In 1910, a missionary visitor arrives at Sophiny Mumm’s convent boarding school in Concord, Kansas. Sophiny is smitten. Her best friend Antoinette Dominguez is not—and begins a series of strange behaviors breaking all the rules. In an ensuing investigation of puzzling enigmas, Sophiny has to use all the resources of emerging women’s rights, family relationships, social networks, the new technologies (telephone, photography, and transportation), and patron saints. A Pretty Age exposes the violence still underlying the Midwest’s supposed civilizing forces at the turn of the century (1910) through the emergence of two convent boarding school students into a world where weapons may have changed but the danger remains.The plot of A Pretty Age, from author Barbara Mueller, is as complex as it sounds in the publisher's blurb. Sophiny is a loyal friend to the enigmatic Antoinette. Because of the strict rules in their boarding school and the watchful eyes of the Sisters, they communicate via cryptic notes and secret meetings in the bathroom of their dorm. When Antoinette runs away from school, the mystery of her whereabouts leads to an intriguing sequence of events.
This is a book about friendship and fraud. Those themes are overlaid with issues of the time: the fight for women's rights, new technology (telephone, for example), covert political activity, and hidden violence.
I really enjoyed A Pretty Age. I've read other books set in this time, but this one is unlike any other. I found the story unpredictable: I liked the surprises. Mueller writes most of the book in the third person, but significant chunks are told in the voice of Antoinette, as excerpts from her diary. This was a very interesting way to convey the story, and I enjoyed that, too.
Links for more information:
- WestBow Press product page for A Pretty Age (includes preview and author bio)
- Website of author Barbara Mueller
- Amazon.com product page (not an affiliate link)