The Callender Papers by Cynthia Voigt
That's the advice Jean Wainwright always gets from her beloved Aunt Constance, Jean's guardian and headmistress at the boarding school where she lives. It's advice that proves valuable when Jean finds herself spending the summer far from home, sorting out family papers for the reclusive Mr. Thiel, a trustee of Aunt Constance's school and the widower of her childhood friend Irene Callender.
At Mr. Thiel's isolated country estate, Jean is surrounded by bewildering questions from the past. Why is there such hatred between Mr. Thiel and his late wife's brother? Was her death an accident? And what happened to their child, who disappeared after Irene Thiel's death? Do the answers lie in the Callender papers? And will searching for the answers put Jean's own life in jeopardy?
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The Callender Papers Book Review, May 29, 2002
An Amazon.com Customer
The Callender Papers by Cynthia Voigt is a mystery novel about a young, adopted girl, Jean. She lives with her foster mother or "aunt", Miss Constance Wainwright, in Cambridge. Miss Constance is the owner of an all girls academy there. One day Mr. Thiel, who supports and gives money to the Academy, asks Jean to work for him in Marlborough, where he lives, over the summer. If she accepts, her job will be to sort papers that belong to his wife's family, the Callenders. Jean agrees and takes a trip to Marlborough, where she meets Mrs. Bywall, Mr. Thiel's servant and Mac, the son of the local doctor. Afterwards, she makes acquaintances with Enoch Callender, Mr. Thiel's brother-in-law, whom Mr. Thiel extremely dislikes. Enoch Callender invites Jean to dinner at his house and she accepts the offer. After dinner, Mr. Callender and Jean walk over to a place she finds is quite beautiful. Enoch Callender shows her a wooden board that he and his sister, Irene, used to cross the falls. Every Sunday after that day, she goes to the Callender's house for lunch. One Sunday, Jean gets very sick and everybody in the house including the doctor, Mac's dad, suspects that she was poisoned. Later, Jean finds Mr. Thiel's late father-in-law's will in the Callender papers she had been sorting through. She learns that Mr. Thiel and Irene Thiel, his wife that died ten years ago and Miss Constance's friend, had a child who suddenly disappeared after she died. She also learns that her favorite spot, the waterfall, is the place where Irene Thiel died. When Jean's visit to Marlborough is almost over, Mr. Thiel forbids her to visit Enoch Callender because he thinks that she was poisoned by him. She runs away to the falls and meets Enoch Callender there. He pulls the wooden board out from its hiding place and... which leaves Jean with a very important decision. The main characters of The Callender Papers are Jean, Miss Constance, Mr. Thiel, Enoch Callender, and Mac. My favorite character is Enoch Callender because he has all kinds of different personalities. He's sly, mischievous, and not to be trusted, yet he has grace and wit, and he's good-looking. He often acts like he hasn't grown up, and he wants everything to be perfect. Enoch Callender is treacherous to cross. I, like Jean, have felt like I wanted to trust a person, but deep down I knew I couldn't. About a year ago, I found out a huge secret, my pretty reliable brother wanted to know what it was, and I wanted to tell him because I would've enjoyed having somebody to talk to about it, but I thought that he might tell. Also, resembling Jean, when there is some big event about to happen and I wasn't told of it, I feel like I know nothing about what is going on and want desperately to find out. Just as Mr. Thiel overly protects Jean, I have felt that my parents were being much too overprotective of me and I wanted to have a little more freedom to do what I want. I can relate to this narrative and I believe other kids will be able to also. The Callender Papers is a vibrant, exciting, wonderful novel that I couldn't put down until I had finished the last sentence. My favorite part is when Jean finally starts to figure out what happened to Irene Thiel, Irene's child, and the child's nurse. I don't really have a least favorite part and I don't think I would change anything at all because the story is perfect the way it is. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone because it is mysterious and it keeps giving hints about what truly happened, though no one can really understand the clues until the very end. Also, it grows scary as it nears the end of the book. My brothers and I usually enjoy spooky and frightening books and I believe many other kids do too. Someone who likes mystery, secretiveness, and happy endings would take pleasure in reading this tale of a girl and the secrecy behind her life.