I probably only have one or two more nights of reading the book I searched long and diligently for. Finally locating a copy of it in the Library of Congress. They were generous enough to make me a Xerox copy of the book. I can understand why they would not want the hard copy of the book to be lent out. The book was published in 1917 so it is almost 100 years old. There are just a few copies of it in the U.S. On Amazon, the best price was in the $400.00 neighborhood. There were a few copies that were over a $1000.
I am so happy that the Library of Congress copied it for me because I get to keep it. My friends are lining up for a turn to read it.
As I'm reading it, I'm trying to understand what I, as a 9 year old, loved so much about this story. Reading it now, more than a half a century after 4th grade, it seems so quaint. Soooooooo much has changed. This book was written before TV, cell phones, computers, leisure air travel (if you were going to the continent, you went by steamship - and it took a loooong time.
I think that, first of all, the main character, Mary, went to a boarding school and that fact had me quite enamored of her. Maybe even a little envious. A boarding school..............(swoon)- she stayed there overnight and had her own room, lived with her friends. To me, this was nirvana. She didn't go to a plain old ordinary school, like I did, nor sleep in the same room with two sisters like I did.
She had blond curls, not dark, straight hair done up in braids, like I did.
And she had this uncle who spoiled the living daylights out of her. He was her mothers brother. He had a special place in his heart for her because she was an orphan. ***
The relationship that the two had would probably be looked upon with some suspicion today but in those much more innocent times, it seemed enchanting. An uncle who doted on his sisters child, lavished her with tiny gifts and visited her often would have seemed like I died and went to heaven.
I think I have discovered why I was so enamored by this story when I was in 4th grade. I loved hearing about a girl my age who seemed to have a storied life. She lived in an idyllic setting - a convent school, went on sleigh rides to sing Christmas carols, had a steady supply of playmates, had beautiful clothes, a loving uncle, blond curls, got to travel to her classmates homes for holidays...........She also had much sadness in her life but the drama of that also made her seem attractive to me at 9 years old.
I am so glad I found a copy of UNCLE FRANK'S MARY and grateful for my friend, Patty, who got me on the fast track which eventually led to my getting a copy that's all mine.
***note: I have a sneaking suspicion that it will soon be discovered that she is not an orphan but I haven't gotten that far in the book yet.