My first thought as I began Grace Harlowe's First Year at Overton College was, "How long will it take for nearly every girl at Overton College to love and admire Grace Harlowe?" I knew that without a doubt that Grace would be adored as much at Overton College as she was during her high school years, with the exception, of course, of a few mean jealous girls. And that is exactly how the book played out.
As the book opens, Grace Harlowe, Anne Pierson, and Miriam Nesbit travel by train to Overton. On the train, the girls meet J. Elfreda Briggs, and at first, greatly dislike the self-centered and socially inept girl. Miriam ends up rooming with Elfreda, and the girls grow to like her.
Elfreda is the victim of a prank by two sophomores, and Elfreda reports their behavior to the dean. Elfreda soon regrets her action, as she finds herself ostracized by many of the students. Grace is snubbed due to her association with Elfreda. Anne helps set the record straight, and soon, nearly all of the girls adore Grace.
In Grace Harlowe's Second Year at Overton College, Grace is accused of plagiarism. Grace misplaced her essay and had to write it again. Grace turned in her second essay, unaware that another girl had found her essay and turned it in as her own. The instructor refuses to believe Grace's story until a very well-respected girl backs up Grace's story.
Grace knows that a freshman girl is the culprit and concludes that the girl must room in the same building. Grace has no idea who could possibly be the culprit, never mind that only a couple of freshman girls room in the same building and one of them immediately begins acting strangely! Gosh, who could it possibly be?! I had to quit reading and thumb through the book until I found the confession of the culprit. Gee, I was so not surprised. My suspicion confirmed, I resumed reading the book.
Both of these books read much like the Grace Harlowe High School Series books. Grace is admired by most, yet hated by a few. Grace helps some unfortunate girls, and the author preaches about how to live one's life. Here is an example:
Grace Harlowe's First Year at Overton College ends with Anne making a long, long speech about "beginning a garden" during one's freshman year. She talks of seeds that flourish unexpectedly and others that are "terribly hard to make them live at all." She states that the garden "will keep on growing through the sophomore and junior years and bloom at the end of four years." She remarks, "In the sophomore year, the hardest task is keeping the weeds out, and during the junior and senior years the difficulty will be to keep the ground in the highest state of cultivation." She explains that it is "easier to neglect one's garden" in those years.
That's good to know.
Despite the excessive preaching, I enjoyed both books.