Friday, June 19, 2009

Sorority Girl

Sorority Girl
Anne Emery
1952, The Westminster Press

She had always been aware of the Nightingales. The Nightingales and the Amigas were two highly exclusive girls' organizations whose membership comprised about ten per cent of the girls in the school, by special and coveted invitation. The "best girls" belonged to one or the other, the girls with the pretty complexions, the smart clothes, the lovely hair - the successfully glamorous girls who dated the outstanding boys. Jean had always been aware of them, with the resentment of the outsider toward the clique, mixed with a kind of helpless envy.

Jean Burnaby is a junior in Sherwood High School now, and determined to make a mark. She starts the school year intending to 'have lots of activities, make many new friends and gain recognition for achievement.' Instead, she loses herself in a sorority. At Sherwood, secret societies are banned - but the Nightingales and the Amigas fly under the radar by posing as charitable organizations. Of course, they are anything but - they're exclusive private clubs that exist for the joy of separating the sheep from the goats. Jean soon discovers that the privilege of being a sheep and included in the realm of the popular girls comes at a price - she's shunned from other organizations, loses a class election, and is treated with wary dislike by her fellow classmates. Isolated from non-sorority members, she finds the Nightingales increasingly annoying as well. And the boy she truly likes, Jeff, isn't a member of the corresponding fraternity. But to be in this group is to be branded "the best" and how can she give that up?

Another tale of a sensible girl having her head turned by sudden popularity, and the price of that popularity. Interestingly, although there are a few things Jean dislikes about the sorority - the girls will drink beer, their parties can be a little too much for her, their casual dismissal of others - the book doesn't really make a case that the sorority sisters are themselves bad or behaving very badly, but that the sorority system is simply flawed. Over the course of the year, Jean just becomes too uncomfortable with the calculated hypocrisy of a service organization ostrasizing people, and the level of artifice.

The writing is very strong, with excellent descriptions, powerful characters and sense of place.

Before the hall mirror she brushed her hair again and arranged her lipstick with critical fingers. She found her notebook and pencil and pen, looked down at her plaid gingham dres, wishing it were cool enough to wear a new fall outfit, and let herself out the big front door.

Jean makes a heroine who's appealing and yet realistically somewhat unlikeable at times.


I didn't realize there were high school frats and sororities, but apparently...


Available New
Image Cascade

Author Bio
Anne Eleanor McGuigan was the eldest of five children with a father who was a professor. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1928, spent a year travellign with her family, and then began teaching. She married John Emery in 1933, and had five children. The Illinois town of Evanston appears to be the model for Sherwood; she lived in Evanston most of her life.

Other Books

About the Burnabys
Senior Year - about Sally
Going Steady - about Sally
High Note, Low Note
Campus Melody

Dinny Gordon Series:
Dinny Gordon, Freshman
Dinny Gordon, Sophomore
Dinny Gordon, Junior
Dinny Gordon, Senior

Jane Ellison 4-H
County Fair
Hickory Hill
Sweet Sixteen

Pat Marlowe
First Love True Love
First Orchid for Pat
First Love Farewell

Sue Morgan
The Popular Crowd
The Losing Game

Other Books
Scarlet Royal
Vagabond Summer
That Archer Girl
Married on Wednesday
A Dream to Touch
Bright Horizons
Mountain Laurel
Jennie Lee, Patriot
American Friend: Herbert Hoover
Mystery of the Opal Ring
Danger in a Smiling Mask
Carey's Fortune
The Sky Is Falling
Free Not to Love

Spy books
A Spy in Old Philadelphia
A Spy in Old Detroit
A Spy in Old New Orleans
A Spy in Old West Point

1 comment:

  1. i like your reading selections.

    btw, i have an award for you...