Book of the Week Book reviews

REVIEW: The Penderwicks at Last


Author: Jeanne Birdsall

Ages: 9-14 (although I might re-read it at 15)

It’s only a few months to Lydia’s oldest sister, Rosalind’s wedding and Lydia couldn’t be more exited. But she is bringing home some surprise news tonight, and not even Lydia and her brother Ben’s best attempts to scare her into telling them NOW are working. Not even Batty, possibly her favourite sibling, will tell of her suspicions. But that will only make the surprise better. The real problem (for now) is that Batty’s boyfriend and, most importantly, his dog are planning to go west.

Oh, how hard to start of this review… So: the basics: this is the fifth and final (😭) book in the unrivalled Penderwick series. It takes place… wait for it… fifteen years after the first, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy.

As an individual book, I don’t know how good this would be. As the conclusion of a long series, it is amazing… and sad. I have a problem with endings, particularly of long series, and with those nostalgic moments. Like, a huge problem. I hate/love it when we see characters grown up, and when they look back on an adventure 15 years ago…

In The Penderwicks at Last, we see the original four Penderwick sisters looking back on their first recorded adventure, at that paradise of Arundel and a decade and a half ago.

OK, done with the spoilers, onto the book. Ahem. That never happened. OK? Here we go.

I can’t honestly say that these characters are as unique and personality-ised as they were when it was just Rosy, Skye, Jane and little Batty. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them. They are great!

This is a brilliant wrap-up to the series, although sometimes I got a bit confused when I was occasionally somehow reading Lydia (5th grade) as Batty (8 years older, not in school). Admittedly, I read 40% of the book (Kindle – those numbers can be so helpful) last night, and might have been a bit tired.

I’m going to give the numbers (which I worked out about nowish), so that you don’t experience this. The confusion won’t happen to people starting with this book, which I highly recommend you don’t do.

Rosalind: 27ish
Skye: 26ish
Jane: 25ish
Batty: 19
Ben: 16 or 17, I forgot
Lydia: 11
Jeffrey: 26ish (same as Skye)
Tommy: 27 or 28
Cagney: about 34

Surprises,* challenges and laughs, this is a good book. *I’m so happy for Skye!* Ahem. And I would say ‘brilliant-‘ but since I’ve used it already, astoundingly amazing references to previous books that enhance the story.

It seems that this wedding is meant to bring together all old friends from the previous books in a sort of reunion, but one or two major ones were missed. The Cagney-Alice and then Lydia-Alice relations are a bit weird when you think of the first Rosalind-Cagney thing 15 years ago.

It’s so tragic that this series ends. These lines, from this book, seem to demand a sequel:

‘I don’t think I’d want to have a double wedding with Jack,’ said Alice.
‘Unless you liked the person he was marrying.’
‘What kind of looser would marry Jack?

[starstarstar sub-chapter ending]

!! Maybe we can all gang up on Birdsall and grind another book out…

Speaking of that, I have often thought about Jeanne Birdsall’s base for her characters. Think of the names and think of which characters would be most like her. For example, right near the end, one character predicts that Jane’s first real success will be with a series of five novels. She doesn’t think this is likely, since she doesn’t want to write a series. Seen with the structure of this interaction in the book instead of how I write it, and taking into account the number of books in this series… 

At first I thought that the ending of The Penderwicks at Last was pretty anti-climactic, but, looking back, I think it was (in theory) nearly perfect. Perfect. But only if you can still remember details from book 1. Beautiful.


Penderwick series as a whole: 8.7352/10, only because it doesn’t feel right to rate a book officially aged two years younger then you as 9/10. I won’t deny loving it.

Blue-themed cover of The Penderwicks at Last

Please rate/review this book (here, I mean. Comments)!
And: Which in this series is your favourite?
All Penderwick Reviews

By storiesnstuff22over7

Books, dogs & nerdy things

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