Title: Keeping the Castle
Author: Patrice Kindl
Concepts: wealth, poverty, scarcity, gender inequality
Review: Althea Crawley may be living in a castle, but her lifestyle is certainly not characterized by opulence and prosperity. Her great-grandfather had spent most of his fortune to indulge in his fantasy of building and furnishing a castle on the North Sea. Other circumstances, including the death of Althea's father and the addition of new mouths to feed, contributed to the constant need to live as cheaply as possible. In a century when women's only avenue to wealth was through marriage rather than employment, the burden thus fell upon seventeen-year-old Althea support her mother and brother by finding a rich husband.
It thus came at an opportune moment when wealthy and handsome Lord Boring arrived in their remote Yorkshire town to stay with his mother. Althea believes she has the beauty and wit to capture his heart. Little did she expect that Lord Boring's apparently bumbling and tactless cousin Mr. Fredricks would place a serious roadblock in the way of her manipulations.
This amusing and lighthearted novel offers young adult readers an apportunity to think about wealth, income, scarcity, and gender inequality in the context of Britain's pre-modern class heirarchy. The protagonist's blend of independence, cunningness, and naïveté keep the character fresh and the storyline entertaining.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children