American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Blather Book Reviews: Meet Samantha: An American Girl

Meet Samantha: She started it.
 Every blog in the AG blogosphere--and on one notable messageboard to be torn apart later--tend to carry themselves on item reviews. They will go on and on and on about AG clothing, accessories, and dolls to draw you in. This ranges from really crappy reviews that don't tell you shit to good, detailed closeups on each component. Item reviews are everywhere. Throw a rock at a PC Molly, you can find people waxing and waning about everything from her tiny lunchbox to her saddle shoes. And I do carry a lot of my blog on item reviews. However, I also pride myself on being crazy about books. What can I say, Libras love books.1 And when I say I love books, I mean it. I have, for example? Every Central Series, every short story, every paper doll, All-in-One collections for most of the ones that got em, every History Mystery, the old Craft and Cook Books...

I have so many AG books they won't fit on a shelf alone.

That's just one snapshot of my shelf. I can't get them all in one shot.
I've been meaning to add on to Magazine Monthly by adding in Book Blather, also known as Book Reviews. A few points about my reviews before we jump in:
  • You're not getting a point-by-point summary. Summaries are for the AG Wiki. Go buy the damn books or check them out from the library. This is more like liveblogging. I grab a book, read it (they take me like a half hour at most), and say how I feel, including sprinkings of lesbianism and snarky character names. You know me by now. If you've ever read BSC Snark?2 It's more like that.
  • I'm going in semi chronological order. That is, according to character release. I'm starting with Sam, Kirsten, and Molly, and then moving through the others as they arrived. This way if someone new shows up, I can add them to the end and keep going.  
  • I will do a full Central Series for a character before going into the next. It's easier that way.
  • Illustrations will be added here and there, either scanned by me or sourced by the AG Wiki.3 In the case of Sam and Addy, I will pick the one I like better. (Chances are with Addy this will be Melodye Rosales and Dahl Taylor, cause Buford Brown's art is shit.) With Sam, it will vary depending on which picture I like better.
  • I generally like the second ed book covers for the Historicals that ran from about 2000-2004. While I can't get these for anyone after Kaya, if I can find them for the others I will. 
  • I'm an adult. I look at these books like an adult. Comments that these books are aimed at children don't matter. Children don't like dumb books any more than adults do. Plus, I'm writing for people over the range. 
  • This won't just be AG books--it'll also cover other AG-style books that I have. 
On to the book.

As it has come up on the AG fandom (and like some babycakes anon tried to "inform" me on an older post, like I had no idea, hah that's cute piss off), Samantha is coming back to AG Availability this fall and she'll likely be bringing a full frontal Historical revamp with her. Might as well start with the heaviest Historical Face they've got.

Meet Samantha: An American Girl was written by Susan S. Adler. Google searches don't show any other books written by her other than Book One and Two of Samantha's Series. The first ed books were illustrated by Nancy Niles; the second release was done by Dan Andreasen. Like Sam herself, the book came out in 1986. Trivia! Until the reillustrations, the only place to see Sam's meet dress was on the cover of the book. It wasn't in the inner pictures.

Chapter One: Jessie, or Establishing Character Moments with Samantha

Samantha Parkington establishes herself two paragraphs into our book by getting startled out of the summer tree she was climbing. The voice that startled her? Eddie Ryland, Neighbor and Jerkass Boy.

"Dumbass girls can't climb trees," Eddie says, because boys have been fucking shit up for girls and then blaming them for the shit they fucked up since Ugg the Cave Nice Guy.

 Samantha gives mad bitchface.
Samantha is upset not because she's scraped her knee but because Eddie is a jerky shit that constantly bothers her.  "Piss off, Eddie," Samantha says, giving some epic bitch face in the original illustrations and just looking mildly concerned in the new ones.

Eddie does not piss off. "Dumb girl probably thinks three times four equals twelve."

"Jackass, that's exactly how math works." Sam snaps back.

"Dumb Girl is So Dumb--"

"I swear to fucking God you keep talking shit, Eddie Jerkass Ryland, and I'm going to dump your bugs in the church money plate and throw your ass under the carriage by telling your mom you did that shit."

Eddie, knowing that Sam will fuck him up good, makes a face before getting the hell out to hide his bugs.

Sam presses Return to Size up the Situation. Her knee has stopped bleeding but she's ripped her stockings and fucked up her hairbow, and if she's seen like this her grandmother, Grandmary is going to give her Proper Victorian hell. It's 1904 and Samantha is supposed to behave like a Little Lady, and in this context that means no climbing trees and fucking up your clothes. There's only one person that can save her from Guardian Lectures, and that's the Magical Negro Seamstress, Jessie. Quick, to the sewing room!

Jessie's jobs include sewing all of Sam's clothing and covering her ass.
Jessie, who gets her skrilla by sewing (current project being a dress for Grandmary), stops as soon as she sees Sam's messed up play dress and pinafore. "Damn it,, Miss Samantha, the fuck you did to your--nope, I don't even want to know. Girl, you're nine and that's damn near a lady." Samantha endures the lecture as Jessie leans her up, orders her out of her stockings so she can repair them, and allows Samantha to not tell Grandmary what happened. Jessie's lectures are annoying, but they're nothing on Grandmary's.

Sam cleans up her leg, then sees a jelly biscuit on the floor that she dropped the other day. There's
three ants on it. Rather than picking it up herself--so not the way of the rich at the Turn of the Century--she decides it'd be awesome to see how many ants find it. Welcome to the fun of the rich, leaving messes they did to see how bad they can get. We'll allow it, though, cause Sam is nine.

"Being an adult is probably boring as shit." Sam says.

"Depends on the person," Jessie says, "but you're our Quirky MC and your brains are full of not boring."

Ant Count: Seven.

"I bet that Just A Friend woman my Uncle Gardner is with, Cornelia, never gets bored," Sam says, throwing out more characters we'll have to remember through this series. "She's not good enough for him, though, both because I am nine and because I need to name drop Alice Roosevelt to remind everyone what era this is. Are Gardner and Cornelia getting hitched?"

"None of your business," Jessie says, "cause this is the Edwardian era and children shouldn't ask about that--in this era, that's half talking about if they're fucking."

Sam is like "Five damn minutes ago I was nearly a lady and now I'm a child, fuck this straight earth."

(Ant count: Twelve, with three on the way.)

"My uncle is totes a spy", Sam goes on.

"Th'fuck you get that from?" Jessie goes.

"He should be. He's handsome, brave, and the Only Male Influence in My life, so he could spy by making everyone fall in love with him and give him all their secrets for that sweet, sweet man candy."

Headcanon: Gardner is Pansexual.

"Keep Gardner's sexual proclivities to yourself," Jessie says, working on the stocking, "you've caused enough trouble."

(Ant count: Nineteen.)

"Have I yet to mention I'm an orphan?" Sam says. "Cause I am. Jessie, did you know my parents before they were removed for the story's Character Development?"

"As You Know, Sam," Jessie goes, "your parents died in a boat accident when you were five and I showed up to work here when you were seven." Sam's parents, Lydia and No Name Given Parkington, reside as Memory Pictures in a locket broach Samantha wears at the front of her dress.

"Tell me about New Orleans," Sam asks, "we need to end this chapter." Jessie does so; her husband Lincoln4 is a porter on a train that runs down down there and brings Samantha back lots of scraps, postcards, and  praline candies. Sam spends the next hour listening to Jessie's Rich Molasses Voice.

Chapter Two: A New Girl, or Samantha's Parlor Play

The time is now 4 p.m., and every day at this time Samantha gets to spend an hour with her Grandmary. This is 1904, so adults can only stand looking at children for about an hour a day before telling the servants to take them away and continue polishing them up out of sight. Jessie has worked her Black Magic, the stocking hole is mended and Samantha is all cleaned up and polished. She knocks on the door, steps in, and is transported to Proper Lady Land, where Grandmary is Queen of All She Surveys.

Welcome to the Parlor. Wipe your feet and hands. Twice.
After Stiff Formal Greetings, Samantha hopes that Grandmary's Roll for Perception doesn't catch that she totally fucked up her clothes a few hours back. It doesn't and Grandmary tells her to sit and work on Proper Lady Tasks--this being, at the moment, Samantha's cross stitch sampler, which she has been working slow on. It's going to say "ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS" and be covered in pretty flowers and fruits and all kinds of things that say "look I am trained in the fine arts of ladylike things" but right now it's up to "ACTIONS SP." I feel you, Sam. Thread arts don't move fast, and without Youtube I'm betting it's boring as the dickens.

Sam glances over at Grandmary during a hard stitch, checking her mood. "You see that doll in Schofield's Toy Shop?"


"Isn't it pretty?"


"Can I have her?"

Samantha used Beg.

"That doll cost six dollars,5 Samantha, and if you're going to be a lady you need to know how much money things are."

It's Not Very Effective....

"But I'll totally earn it! I'll make things and sell them the book I read said how to--"

"Samantha, you are Rich. Rich Girls in 1904 don't earn their money."

"Cornelia says ladies should be able to earn monies for themselves--"

"Cornelia has said a lot of shit that doesn't mesh with Victorian ideals, and I don't want to hear about it," Grandmary says.

You know how everyone keeps calling Samantha's era Victorian? Grandmary is why. She's a holdover from the past, and is raising Sam like she was raised and her mother was raised. Speaking of Sam's Dead mother...

"If I get the doll, I'll name her after my Dead Mom."

Samantha used Sentimentality! It's Super Effective!

Grandmary says that if Samantha does well at her tasks like playing the piano and the like, she might earn her way to the doll. Samantha swears that she'll practice an hour a day, make her sampler beautiful as anything, help the cook, not get her clothes muddy, not--well, she almost said she wouldn't fuck Eddie up but he's a shit and fuck him in the nose. She throws her arms around Grandmary, because fuck decorum.

--augh she's touching me--"We'll see how you do, sit down and sew your sampler."

Sam works hard as fucking hell on her sampler for a half hour without even an episode of King of the Hill to distract her. Then, distraction! There's the sounds of pops and bangs and loudness and angry horses--

Enter Uncle Gard, Cornelia, and his automobobble.

Those newfangled car things. They'll never take off.
Grandmary rolls her eyes. "Damn car, what will I tell the neighbors?" she goes.

Sam watches the car come to a clunky bumpy stop in front of the house, and Gardner and Cornelia get out in their long Car-Driving-Duster-Coats and hats and scarves and goggles (second ed: Only Gardner is wearing goggles), because the first cars are not closed in and you have to wear stuff all over you or you'll be dirty afterwards and there will be bugs in your eyes. Hawkins, the Butler--and husband of Mrs. Hawkins, the Cook--announces their arrival properly. Grandmary says to show them in and have Elsa the Maid bust out the tea, cause a proper host offers food.

"Yo Ma, what's the haps," Gardner says, hugging on Grandmary.

"Good afternoon, son. Everything was peaceful before you showed up in that damn car. Next time don't bring the damn car, fuck these car machines, why did you bring it."

"It's 1904, Mother," Garner says, "the future is now. Plus I'm gonna teach Samantha how to drive it, can't do that without the car being here."

"OMG CARS I WANT TO CAR RIGHT NOW" Samantha says, practically messing her clothes in excitement. 

"Let's do it!" Gardner says.

"The fuck you will. Samantha, you'll mess up your clothes," says Grandmary.

"Not if she's in my duster coat, we'll make it fit," Cornelia says. Shut down by Feminisms!  A few clothes adjustments later, Samantha stumbles out in a hat, coat, and goggles. Eddie, for plot data purposes, has appeared to climb on the car and climb off once they get there. "Dumb Girls look dumb in cars," he says while Sam sits in the car and waits for Gardner to crank up the petroleum and make the clutch clitch.

Fuck you, bitch, Sam thinks, I'm the one in the car.

"I know shit you don't," Eddie yells over Loud Car Noises.

Gard gets into the car before it can run off with a nine year old driver and pulls off, the car bucking like a drunk mule.

"We're getting a girl at our house!" Eddie yells. "She's nine like you and I'm going to give her hell!"

"Piss off with your lies," Sam yells before getting a mouth of Road Dirt.

"Not lying! Her name is Nellie! Just you wait til next Chapter!"

Sam doesn't say shit back, because it's 1904 and riding in a car is some shit, and one wrong bump and everyone goes falling out and crashes, this thing goes at like top super speeds, Go Speed Gardner Go!

Jump back to the Parlor. Grandmary, thinking that letting her only son haul her only grandchild off in a car is some newfangled shit, turns to have tea with Cornelia and maybe convince her that she should give up this Feminist thought for a nice marriage and some lace tatting.

Enter Jessie running by with the pepper shaker.

See, you forgot about them damn ants. They're swarming all over that cookie. Ant count: OH GOD KILL THEM ALL. 

Chapter Three: The Tunnel, or Introducing the Class Divide

MANY DAYS LATER, Samantha runs into the backyard with a gingerbread cookie, having suffered the torture of an hour of piano practice. The air is still summers, and she goes to peek through the tunnel--a worn spot in the lilac hedge between the Rylands' and her house.

Holy shit there is a girl in the backyard hanging laundry. Maybe Eddie wasn't full of lies.

"Hey are you Nellie?" Samantha says.

The girl turns. "Yes, miss," she says, cause Nellie knows her Place among her betters. She's pale, thin, and smaller than Samantha. Because poverty.

"Are you visiting?" Samantha says.

"Uh, hell no," Nellie says, "I'm working."

Eddie hadn't said that the girl they were getting was a worker. But who gives a fuck? Another GIRL now people can stop shipping me with Eddie's ass. "I've got a cookie. Want some? It's freshly made."

"I can't take your food, miss, the Rylands will give me shit, I've got to do the laundry."

"Don't call me miss, my name's Samantha. Tell you what, let's work together and then split the cookie and play." Sam sets the cookie down and grabs some wet laundry.

Samantha's additional ability is Oblivious.

"OH GOD YOU'LL GET ME FIRED STOP THAT," Nellie tries to explain, but Samantha won't stop picking up sheets and underwear and putting them on the line like some sort of Irish, so all Nellie can do is work faster lest they catch her having manipulated the neighbor girl into lifting up Mr. Ryland's underpants and the sheets. As soon as the laundry is hung, Samantha drags Nellie off to the tunnel for lesbian shenanigans--wait, no, they're just going to split the gingerbread cookie. Well, every relationship starts somewhere.

"Why are you working out here in the middle of Quaint Town, New York?" Sam says.

"Cause I'm poor, Irish, Catholic, and this is 1904. Dad works in a factory, Mom washes clothes, there's three kids, and we don't have enough food, coal, bread, or fancy stockings."

Samantha, who can imagine crazy ass fantasy shit, can't ever think of being hungry and cold. "Your parents ditched you! What dicks!"

"Uh, no. They sent me here for my health. I get a whole buck a week6 and while that's less than the factory paid, I'm not working in hot, dusty, dark inside places from sunrise to dark and and hocking up my lungs. The only sucky thing is I can't see my family much." 

"What about school?"

"Yeah, never been."

Welcome to the Class Divide, Samantha.

Some of us have to work for our daily bread, despite what grandmarys might say about ladies working.
Samantha proposes that Nellie meet her in the hedge every day, for lesbian shenanigans--wait, no for the teaching of everything. Oh, so lesbian shenanigans. The girls make plans for some time--hee hee hee, plans--and Samantha spills about all the people in her neighborhood and family--including that wacky automobobble.

Up pops Eddie, being a shit. "Dumb Girls are so, so dumb and ugly and--"

"Piss off, Eddie, I'm trying to hit on the new girl."

"I'm gonna tell on you for distracting my servant from washing my nasty ass stockings!" Eddie takes off, and Nellie nearly loses her shit.

"I SWEAR TO FUCK, EDDIE RYLAND," Samantha yells, "if you tell anyone Nellie and I were making sweet plans in the hedge I'm going to stuff your pocketknife full of taffy and then fuck you up like you have never been fucked up in your entire life."

Eddie, fearing for the manhood of his pocketknife, covers his ass--literally--and backs off before bolting like his ass is on fire and water is nine miles away.

Nellie scrambles to her feet. "It's been nice finding out things but I'm getting back to work. Mrs. Ryland's personal stains7 won't come out with gingerbread and lilac."

"Fine, but tomorrow we're making a string can phone and can talk anytime we and and pass notes and have so much hot unbridled shenanigans."

Off skips Samantha, perfectly oblivious.

Chapter Four: Gone!, or This Book Needs More Plot

Many days later, on a Tuesday, Samantha is back in the parlor with her sampler. She is now up to "ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THA." Slow and steady makes the sampler. Sewing Time in the Arena of Grandmary is almost up when tapa tapa tapa. Grandmary bids the tappa enta, and it's Jessie, all coated up8 to go home, and curtsies towards Grandmary. Samantha, only knowing one black person in her life but this being more than many rich white people know nowadays, thinks Jessie always looks so grand in her clothes with her head up high. But why is she leaving early? It's not quitting time at the old sewing room.

"What is it, Jessie?" Grandmary says.

"I'm quitting, ma'am," Jessie says. "Ain't working here no more."

"WHAT THE ENTIRE FUCK, WHY?" Samantha says, damn near messing her clothes without even needing a pesky tree to do it for her.

Grandmary shoots Samantha the children don't talk look before thanking Jessie for her two and some years of service and that she'll be missed, and to see Hawkins for her pay and a bonus. Jessie thanks her, curtsies again cause that's what ladies do, and tells Samantha to behave herself and she'll miss her.

Samantha Parkington demands an explanation for this bullshit.
Samantha is stunned silent until Jessie leaves, then states she would like to know what the entire fuck is going on and why Grandmary is just letting Jessie quit out of fucking nowhere. Grandmary, working her lace, tells Samantha to hakuna her not-fully-there matatas and not ask why Jessie's leaving, that's grown up business. Samantha fidgets with her sewing for the rest of the hour, completely thrown, and then politely excuses herself to go lose her shit to Mrs. Hawkins, the family cook.

Mrs. Hawkins is always in the kitchen because it's 1904, Samantha perceives her to be, and cooking is an all day thing for those hired to do it. The kitchen smells of food and manual labor over an iron stove. Mrs. Hawkins goes "Hey, lovey. What's got your bloomers bunched? Sit down and tell me why you look like you're about to shoot Eddie in the ass."


"Oh, yeah, that, I know."

"The fuck do you mean that you know? Grandmary just let her go and she's the only black person we know!"

"It's nothing to fret about, love, your Grandmary knows best."

Fuck you, Grandmary didn't tell me shit to even know shit, Sam thinks, and storms off to the butler's pantry for more data. Hawkins is publishing silver and minding his own, and is used to Samantha showing up to bother him while he does shit. He doesn't miss a beat, handing her a rag to polish the silver because keeping a fancy rich house means a lot of polishing and waxing and shit, and if Samantha is going to bother him she's going to polish shit while she does it.

"Jessie's gone," Samantha says, working at a sugar bowl, "and no one's telling me shit."

"Jessie's fine, and it's not easy, but there's a reason for her leaving and you have to trust adults cause you're young and we don't want your questions."

Samantha decides this is bullshit, leaves Hawkins to his silver polishing, and shuffles past the parlor.
Grandmary catches her. "There's something new on your bed."

Samantha forgets about all her Jessie pouting to run upstairs and find the doll on her bed. She has earned her doll! Bet you forgot about it. Hello, Lydia.

Chapter Five: Night Visit, or The Closest We'll Get to Race Before Addy Walker

The next morning, Samantha shows off her expensive new dolly to Nellie, and then realizes this may have been a dick move because Nellie practically starts fondling the doll. Not in the sexual sense. Getcha mind out the gutter. Samantha thinks that since Nellie never had a doll--especially not a six dollar doll--she might be showing off. This doesn't make full sense, because Nellie would have at least owned a rag doll at some point in her life, even the poorest people had rag dolls, you can make those out of busted sheets and old clothes. But fine, whatever, we need her to not have a doll for plot devices.

Samantha talks about how Lydia's hat comes off and her dress has buttons, and then starts talking about Jessie's leaving while Nellie cradles the doll and fiddles with the buttons. 

Fondle fondle fondle.
"She's gone to be an actress," Samantha says, not realizing that black people in 1904 aren't becoming actresses much.

Nellie takes off Lydia's hat. Fondle fondle fondle.

"She's going to be rich and famous and come back and take us to meet all the super famous people, but only us, because fuck everyone else."

Nellie fondles Lydia's shoes, doing her best to ignore Samantha's crazy.

Over the next few days, Samantha pulls all kinds of scenarios out of the air. Jessie's gone to N'awlins with Lincoln to become a singer. She's been asked to be a spy in Europe, and sew for kings and queens. Her non-existent brother has been kidnapped and taken to South America.

Finally, after days of Samantha's bullshit, Nellie finally gives the practical answer. "She probably had a baby."

"Why would she do that?" Samantha says.

Headcanon: Nellie knows exactly where babies come from, as the oldest of three, but Samantha's not allowed to know. So she plays dumb.

Nellie debates getting out a book of How You Were Born and explaining fertilization and the menstrual cycle before remembering that this is 1904 and we can't be telling people where babies come from. "Lots of people like babies."

"That's not very exciting to leave for a baby. If that's all it is, why won't anyone tell me?"

"This is 1904, adults don't like explaining how babies get here."

"Yeah," Sam goes, "The one time I asked Grandmary told me that's not a proper subject for a lady, and Mrs. Hawkins said the stork brings babies."

"That's bullshit," Nellie says. "When my baby sister showed up, the midwife came and we got sent out with my uncle and came back and ta-da! Baby. No stork in sight."

"The fuck is a midwife?"

Nellie debates explaining herbal medicine, placentas, and episiotomies before remembering that Samantha's not allowed to know this shit before marriage and she's not supposed to tell her. "She shows up when babies come. My uncle told me that she brings the baby in her black bag, but I looked in there and it was a bunch of tools."

"Fuck this shit, we need to find Jessie!" Samantha says. "Where the fuck does she live?"

"I know where she lives," Nellie says. "Mrs. Ryland needed some herbal medicine, and the lady that makes it lives right across the street from Jessie." Nellie has been wondering if Samantha has ever been anywhere in life.

Samantha decides that they can't go in the day, everyone will know they're out and about. Time for a night excursion. Samantha, being well-to-do, has to wait for Grandmary to go to bed, so her signal to head down will be when the gas lights get turned off before sneaking out. Nellie--being working class Irish--knows that the Rylands won't even notice her wandering off at night to get eaten by mules, wolves, or the Italians.

That night--the noisy, crickety, dog barky, tree rustling,  night--Samantha and Nellie meet by the tunnel and then head out the yard and up the street. The familiar, white, nice part of town has street lamps and everything seems exciting and fun to be out. Then they cross the tracks--I shit you not--and bam! The houses are small, the streets are dark and narrow, and there's a lot of shouting, music, and laughter.

Welcome to Poor Part of Town. Roll dem bones. Seven craps.

Samantha is starting to think that sneaking out at night might not have been her most brilliant plan, but she's not backing out now. "Nellie where the hell are you taking me?"

"Shut up I know where I'm going," Nellie says.

"Why are all the houses drab without huge lawns and hedges and the like?"

"This is the poor, colored part of town," Nellie says, convinced that rich girls are idiots.

"Jessie has to live here?"

Nellie is even more convinced that Samantha is a sheltered pretty girl. "Pretty much."


Nellie knows exactly why, as this is 1904 and the Irish aren't White Yet, but she's not about to discuss race relations with the Rich White Girl. "Cause grownups have things that way--oh look there's the house stop talking."

They huddle under the house. "Knock already," Nellie says.

"What if they're not in there anymore? What if it's not the right house? What if God was one of us?"

You and your damned fantasies, Nellie thinks. "Stand on my back and look in the window."

"Nah, you stand on me," Samantha says.

Nellie, taking no time to argue with using the rich to get a step up in life, does so and looks in the window. Inside is Jessie, Lincoln--and a cradle! What do you know, Nellie was right, you own her a coke Samantha. Jessie looks up to see a little white girl face in the window and shrieks. Nellie ducks and falls right off Samantha and kicks her in the ribs. Lincoln comes out to see two scared white girls a-tangle on the ground and laughs his ass off because what the entire fuck.

There are two white girls outside my house in the 1900s. I'm marking it as hilarious.
Jessie, thinking she was done cleaning up after Samantha Parkington when she quit her job, cleans up both girls. "No really," she says, "I thought I was done cleaning up after you when I quit. Th'fuck you doing out here? Do you have an escort?"

"Nope," Samantha says. "We came by ourselves, cause no one would tell me where you went."

Damn it, Jessie thinks, now I have to explain. "Oh, babe," Jessie says. "I shouldn't have made you worry. There is a perfectly sensible explanation for why I quit. C'mere. I've got a treasure." She walks over to the cradle, lifts out the bundle, and shows Samantha her new baby boy, Nathaniel, who by the way is cute as all get the fuck out. Samantha reaches out and touches the baby's cheeks cause she just can't resist, getting Nathaniel used to a lifetime of being groped by white people.

Note that the baby is about a month or so old, at most. That means Jessie was pregnant and had her baby and Samantha didn't even notice. Edwardian clothing hid a lot. That or Jessie probably just took time off while Samantha was at school.

Babies come in brown!
Jessie puts Nathaniel down and explains that she can't stay working, cause Lincoln is gone often and she's got to stay and take care of him. She doesn't explain that this is 1904 and babies don't drink Enfamil or have Pampers, and she can't be sewing Samantha's stockings when she's got to nurse her baby and wipe his butt. But she'll visit when she can get to the white side without being followed by the popo, and she'll bring the baby. Now, Lincoln is going to walk them home because the last thing we need is two little white girls getting eaten by wolves or the Italians and if Grandmary found out where Samantha was she'd have their asses. Lincoln gets them home much faster--or it feels like that--and Samantha gets back in the house without tipping anyone off. She climbs into her room, gets out of her clothes, and gets into bed, glad to have not been eaten by wolves or the Italians.

Chapter Six: A Fine Young Lady, or Maybe We Shouldn't Fuck the Poor


Sam goes down to the hedge and tugs on Nellie's can. (Can telephone. Getcha mind out of the gutter.) The bells attached mean that Nellie will answer when she hears them and they can have whisper time.

Nellie doesn't answer.

Tug tug tug.

Still no answer.

Samantha wiggles through the tunnel, looking for Nellie. Ugh, it's Eddie, pulling gum out of his mouth in long strings and stuffing it back in because he's a gross little shit. Samantha's gone gay for Nellie, she don't want you.

"I know shit you don't," Eddie says, looking smug as fuck."We're kicking Nellie out."

"The entire fuck?" Samantha goes.

"We're sending her back, she sucks and can't get her work done and so we're ditching her. She's in the kitchen waiting to be hauled back to wherever Irish go when we don't need them. Mom says we're getting an immigrant woman who will last longer and beat the clothes good."

Samantha fights her urges to beat Eddie into a fine white boy paste, because ladies don't punch boys in the nose. And if she was a boy, she probably still couldn't, because grown ups don't do that. But fuck your grown up ways she's had enough of them. She takes Eddie's gum and rams it into his fucking hair and leaves him to cry like a little bitch and piss into a bush as she goes to run to Nellie.

Nellie is sitting in the kitchen on a wooden chair with her belongings tied in a shawl. "Oh god Nellie are you sick?" Samantha wails.

"No. But I still cough and Mrs. Ryland is a bitch and thinks I'm not worth my dollar a week, so she's sending me back."

"YOU'LL HAVE TO WORK IN FACTORIES AND DIE," Samantha blubbers. "What will I do without our hedge tunnel shenanigans?"

"It'll be fine, though I'll miss you," Nellie says, sure she will never see Samantha again.

"Fuck this, I'm doing something about it!" Samantha says, bolting for her own house. She tells Mrs. Hawkins that Nellie's being sent away and her family doesn't have enough food and they have to do something. Mrs. Hawkins packs a basket of pie and fruits, canned food, and even a ham. Sam bolts back to the Rylands' kitchen with the basket--Eddie is still hair gummed--and hands Nellie the basket.

And her doll. Her very expensive, maybe had it for a few weeks, earned through many piano pieces and named after her mother brand new doll. To be Nellie's friend since Samantha can't be there for her.

I shit you not. She gives Nellie her doll.
Because for all I can't stand Pretty Princess Samantha's AG pimping? I love her character. She's generous as fuck and she clearly gave a damn in her first two books.

Samantha stays there with Nellie, hugging her and upset, until the driver takes her away.

That afternoon, Uncle Gard and Cornelia are over for tea. Samantha, who normally is bouncy and happy to have her uncle over, is sitting in her chair working on her sampler because even working on her sampler is better than dealing with shitty adults. Stupid shitty adults and their stupid shitty rules about where people have to live and work and for how long and her first best friend ever had to leave because Mrs. Ryland is a pissy pants bitch who didn't even give Nellie a chance and they didn't tell her where Jessie went and fuck you all.

Fuck it. It's not the Victorian Era. Samantha speaks up. "I know why Jessie left."

"Why?" Grandmary said, as if she didn't already know.

"Cause she had a baby."

"How'd you know?"

"I went and saw at her place. At night. With Nellie."

Grandmary realizes that her nine year old only granddaughter was on the colored side of town at night and nearly messes her elegant clothing. "You were wrong to do that!"

"Well you were wrong not to tell me shit you knew, so fuck you," Samantha says, cause fuck grownups that's why.

Grandmary gets offended and looks at Gard and Cornelia, who are like "don't look at us she's right." Grandmary concedes that yes, maybe she was wrong to not tell Samantha.

Samantha wins the battle! Take a dollar. "Then we should bring Jessie back."

"She has to take care of the baby."

"So? Bring the baby to work? He's not gonna bother anyone."

Grandmary says she hadn't thought about that. Bullshit. She hadn't thought about it because she didn't want to. "Well, if Mrs. Hawkins doesn't care, maybe." Samantha can't think of a reason Mrs. Hawkins could object to a baby.

Grandmary, more than a little embarrassed she got caught in her own shit, asks Samantha about her new doll. "You don't have her. Bored already?"


Samantha gets embarrassed. "Nope. I, uh...lost it."


Gardner cuts in, "Actually, Mother, Samantha's sense of value is fine. She gave her doll to Nellie after the Rylands sent her back for not being an automaton."

Grandmary, made to shut up for the second time in ten minutes, has to take pause. "Yes, Samantha has decent value."

Samantha runs over to Grandmary. "We've got to help Nellie's family. They have little food and lack of coal and no gingerbread and no stockings and this is 1904 which is not the Victorian Era so we're supposed to be helping the poor--"

Grandmary gives in. This is not the Victorian era. If Samantha can give up her finest doll, then they can surely give up some ham, preserves, and coal for the poor. Samantha is growing up to be a fine young lady, ripped stockings and giving Eddie what for included. And then she hugs Samantha, because you're supposed to, we need less of this distant parental figure stuff.

Looking Back, or We Had to Put Back-Facts in This

Time to learn about 1904 America in a light way!

The rich had it all--fancy houses, comfortable meals in elegant dining rooms without children at the table, and multiple story houses. Back then, a well to do girl wore a lot of clothes. Dresses with pinafores and ruffles, high button shoes, bloomers, petticoats and slips, chemises, combinations, and stockings with garters to hold em up. They also wore corsets from a young age--not constricting, but for posture and the like. And in theory she shouldn't be climbing trees in that shit, but fuck you.

Dinner? There's a reason we have the phrase "soup to nuts." A fancy dinner went in courses: Soup, fish, two meats, veggies, desserts, and all the way to nuts. It could take hours, and someone had to make that damn thing, and if you think it was the lady of the house the rich did not do that.

Nope, they had servants! Cooks to cook, seamstresses to sew, nursemaids to keep the children away from the adults, maids to dust, washerwomen to wash, butlers to butle--and many of them lived in the house in small rooms or above carriage houses. It wasn't nice. They worked for hours on tasks without nice things like vacuums, TV, washing machines, or iPods. Truly, a dark age. And I'm not being flippant. Servant life was hard and nearly thankless. Kitchens were hot, gas lamps were sooty, horses had to be taken care of, and servants did all that shit that made life comfy for the well to do. (Hope you realize shit ain't changed.) Servants were expected to do their work without fuss and know their damn place--which was not with the family. As much as this sucked, it was paid work. And with the surge of immigrants coming in and the gap between rich and poor, you took jobs you could get--which included shitty factory jobs.

Rich girls didn't work. They learned to sew, be neat, and sit around and wait to be married. Samantha wasn't being educated to work. She was educated to be a fine lady who would get a pretty husband and have servants to serve her. Then you had the women like Cornelia, who thought otherwise--and of course, the middle class and poor worked for their bread, rent, and needs.

Meanwhile, technology. Cities were getting bigger, people were moving from the rural to the urban, automobiles were taking off, there were light bulbs, and electricity was starting to be a thing. Yay, tech!

Now go Google things about America Turn of the Century. I've got my own books and stories to write.

Final Thoughts: 

Samantha is bottom of the pack for me as a doll. I get super frustrated with her being the Face of AG, but I love Edwardian clothing. Just not her.

As a character, though? Samantha rocked it in the first two books. She likes cars, she climbs trees, she tells her annoying neighbor boy to go suck off in so many words, she says fuck this Victorian carryover bull shit about people knowing their place, and grownups should talk to me like I'm not an incompetent bauble that you can distract. She's compassionate, she's caring, and she gives a damn about shit. Not in the "march for rights as a one-girl campaign for the poor and voting" that everyone gives her with nostalgia goggles, but she had some buck against the system. She's a little bit of a daydreamer, but not in the annoying way Molly is. And she's privileged, and the books actually try to, you know, show that the first two books by having Nellie her counterpoint. She questions shit when she's smacked with it.

But even with all that, I'm going to give it up to Nellie more. Nellie has always had a good head on her shoulders, and she's my favorite character in the Sam books series.

Stay tuned for part two: Samantha Learns a Lesson, or the other book that everyone cites to say Samantha was "Radical."


1 And 3rd Decanate Libras, like myself, have a Mercury influence. Which means that I like talking about books.
2 You haven't read BSC Snark? Hie thee to Eljay! I'm sure a lot of my audience remembers Baby-Sitter's Club.
3 Which is often the same thing.
4 Bet you he was named after President Lincoln.
5 That's like $154 in 2014 monies, Samantha. You're asking for an AG and then some.
6 About $25 dollars. Shit, Nellie's making more than min wagers do now an hour. But only for a full week, so she's getting screwed.
7 I just made a period joke. 
8 Fun fact: In the first edition book, Jessie is stated to be wearing a light grey summer coat. The second illustrator changed the coat to brown, so the text changed to match. There's a lot of little things like that.


  1. I like this version more than the original !!!!!!!

  2. Don't have a profile to sign in with but this is Grungie here--

    Love it! I have to admit that I get annoyed on the rare occasion that people ship Samantha and Eddie Ryland, or predict that he marries him in the future...no, just no. If a boy is acting like a horrid little shit, it's because he's a horrid little shit and not because he "secretly likes you" or "he's just acting like a boy and he'll grow out of it". No. Horrid little shits, for the most part, grow up to be horrid big shits. Eddie only shows up a couple times in the series, but I'm glad there was never any "secret crush on Samantha" subplot, and that Samantha continues to (rightly) recognize that Eddie is a complete tool.

  3. I started reading this during lunch and snorted so much I had to take a break.
    "...eaten by mules, wolves, or Italians."
    Turkey is awful for sinuses.

    I also like your version as much as the first, except I never put Nellie and Sam as "into" each other. Lissie and Lizzie yes, even when I was ten.

  4. OMFG. I am for real cry-laughing at this. I LOVE THIS BLOG SFM. Picking my favorite line in this is like picking a favorite child or something, but this one made me laugh so hard I started wheezing.

    Eddie Ryland, Neighbor and Jerkass Boy

    boys have been fucking shit up for girls and then blaming them for the shit they fucked up since Ugg the Cave Nice Guy

    I'M DYING.

    I think I ship Nellie/Sam almost as much as Felicity/Elizabeth now. SHENANIGANS!

    I always had a soft spot for Jessie because she had the same job as my great grandmother and in the one pic I have of her, they even look a little alike.

    I know you're busy so I will shut up my need for more, because even just this one is so wonderful. Seriously, my partner (who also reads you and has commented! She comments under "Renata" here; she hasn't had time lately to read/comment so I try not to spoilerize her too much) to see what the hell was going on because I am ugly-laughing. Goddamn.

  5. Is Molly your least favorite historical? You don't seem to like her much, haha ;)
    And since you said "the first two books" - what did you think of the other four?
    And of course I remember the BSC! I love those books!

    1. Molly is, in fact, my least favorite historical.

    2. As for the other four books, we'll get into them as I go on.

    3. I realize this question is kinda off-topic, but you once mentioned Kirsten as being the collection from which you don't own anything. I'm super inspired (too inspired, according to my paychecks) by your adoption of things from other collections like Molly's for your own created historicals (I WANT AN EDITH SO BAD OMG). I was wondering, was there *anything* of Kirsten's you ever thought about adding? I'm not necessarily a particular Kirsten fan, I just am way too interested about what people do and don't collect and I love your thinky thoughts about collecting.

    4. I had debated things like her summer dress, school dress, and the like for Charlotte, but ultimately passed them up because I'd rather draft things up myself.

  6. I love this! I can't wait to read similar posts in the future. Your AG blog is the only one worth reading.

  7. Hedge tunnel shenanigans. This was brilliant! It makes me really curious as to what you're going to do for Felicity and Elizabeth...

  8. Wow! This has to be the best review of Sam's meet book that I've ever read.

  9. It's Edaj. Please do more of these. Please, please, please. I couldn't stop laughing. I agree with Neici.

  10. I just saw on FB that AG is bringing back Samantha and came here to check to see if you'd heard. I'm curious as to what they plan on doing with that and what changes they are going to be making to the historical doll collection this fall.

  11. OMFG, I'm laughing so hard. Help. This has got to be one of my favourite posts of yours! So funny!
    You are great.

    I also like your version as much as the first, except I never put Nellie and Sam as "into" each other. Lissie and Lizzie yes, even when I was ten. [2] (Felicity/Elizabeth ftw)

  12. You live Samantha's character do why do you hate the doll so much?

    1. I assume you meant "love."

      Because in the AG line, she gets too much focus and representation, too much front line imagery, and her collection and later books focus too much on how she is wealthy and well to do and not on class and other things as her first two books did.

  13. Libras love books so much the word for book in Spanish is libro.

  14. "This won't just be AG books--it'll also cover other AG-style books that I have." Ever read Girlhood Journeys and there is this one series about four gal pals living in a small town in Illinois around the Turn of the Century: one of them is a farm girl with brown hair, one is African American and a Preacher's Daughter (yet goes to the same school as her friends), one is red haired and Irish American, and the other is wealthy and blonde. Ever heard of that series? I can't remember the name.


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