Sorcery and Cecelia // by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer


//published 1988// I like this cover much better than my copy //

I was on vacation ten years or so ago and picked this book up in a random bookstore in Boulder, Colorado.  I was actually drawn to the subtitle of the book, and the fact that it was co-authored by Patricia Wrede, who wrote the Enchanted Forest series, which I love.  

But who can resist a book that states on the title page:

Sorcery & Cecelia OR The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: being the correspondence of two Young Ladies of Quality regarding various Magical Scandals in London and the Country

The authors say in the afterword that this book originally wasn’t supposed to be a book at all.  Instead, it was their own private edition of the “letters game,” where you write back and forth in character.  They had chosen an alternate reality version of England in the early 1800’s, where magic is an excepted part of society.  But when they were finished, they realized that what they had written was a book.  They said they didn’t change much about their letters before publishing them, and the entire book has a very natural feel to the correspondence.

Cecelia and Kate are cousins who have grown up together.  However, Kate has been spirited away to London by her aunt (Kate is an orphan, and Cecelia’s mother also passed away when Cecelia was little, although her father is still alive) for a Season – mainly, it turns out, so that Kate’s younger sister, Georgina – who is considered much the prettier sister – can have a Season as well.  Both girls have many lively adventures, which are, it turns out, not so disconnected as one might think at first.

I have reread this book on multiple occasions, and decided that it – plus its sequels – would be perfect fare for our recent vacation.  I love to take well-read books on holiday.  (Last year I took Indiscretion and The Blue Castle.)  It’s just so relaxing to have an old friend (in fiction format) to visit as time allows.

The point is, I enjoy this book every time.  While the other books in the series are good, this one just has the spark of originality.  The setting is perfect, the story is funny and engaging, the characters likable and interesting.  While there are always little things to complain about (I always wish there was more development of Cecelia’s relationship with her young man), on the whole this is wonderful holiday reading and highly recommended.