Excerpt from Splendors and Glooms by Laura A. Schlitz, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Splendors and Glooms

by Laura A. Schlitz

Splendors and Glooms
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2012, 400 pages
    Jan 2014, 400 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BJ Nathan Hegedus

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

The children began to set up the theatre. The front of the caravan pulled down, covering the wheels, and the sides unfolded like shutters, adding width to the miniature stage. Lizzie Rose unrolled the canvas that hid the puppet workers from the audience. Parsefall set up the puppet rack and hung the puppets on it. Lizzie Rose unpacked the contents of the canvas sack: a set of glass chimes, a tambourine, a tin sheet for making thunder, and a small violin called a kit.

Parsefall eyed the clock on the mantel. There was plenty of time before the show. He would be able to set up perfectly —Parsefall was finicky about setting up — and still have time to steal something. He cast a furtive glance at Lizzie Rose. She had no idea what a skillful thief he was. Grisini wanted her kept in the dark.

The door opened, and a little girl came into the room. She stood aside as a maidservant in a black uniform entered with a tea tray. "Thank you, Agnes," said the girl, and the maidservant set the tray on the table and left the room.

Parsefall stared at the little girl. He didn't bother much about girls — it was well known that they weren't as good as boys — but this was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. She looked like a puppet of the very finest quality. Her eyes shone like blue glass, matching the color of her sash. Her ringlets were as neat as quills of black paper, and her skin was as smooth as wax. And her dress! To Parsefall, who lived in perpetual dinginess, it was blindingly, impossibly white: a frothy confection that showed plump shoulders at one end and embroidered stockings at the other. But though Miss Wintermute was beautiful, she was not graceful.

She held herself stiffly and moved as if by clockwork.

She made a slight, imperious gesture toward the tea tray.

"Good afternoon. How do you do?"

Parsefall jammed his hands in his pockets. Lizzie Rose spoke for them both. "We're very well, miss. Thank you, miss." The little girl clasped her hands behind her back. "I'm very glad to see you. I hoped you might have tea with me." She sounded suddenly shy. "We met in Hyde Park three weeks ago —I don't suppose you remember?" She paused as if she hoped they would answer. "My name is Clara Wintermute."

"I think I remember you," Lizzie Rose said unconvincingly. Lizzie Rose was a poor liar. She didn't get much practice. Parsefall looked impatiently at the tea tray. There were three cups and a dish with a folded napkin in it. He wondered what was inside the napkin. Something buttery, he hoped: crumpets or muffins.

"Do you?" fluttered Clara. "I'm very glad. I admire you both so much — I wanted you to come for my birthday." She gestured toward the table again. "Do sit down. There's hot buttered toast in the dish — and strawberry jam."

"We'd love tea, thank you," Lizzie Rose said happily. "Wouldn't we, Parsefall?"

Parsefall pulled out a chair and slumped into it. The two girls became irritatingly ladylike, murmuring courtesies about sugar and milk. Parsefall rested his elbows on the table and gnawed his toast. He knew better — Lizzie Rose was attempting to teach him table manners — but something about little Miss Wintermute made him want to be rude on a larger scale than usual. He slathered his toast with jam and sucked his fingers.

"This is ever so kind, miss." Lizzie Rose set her teacup in the saucer. "A cup of tea is always a treat, especially on a cold day."

Clara spoke impetuously. "Oh, please —! Won't you call me Clara? I know I seem —" She waved a hand, indicating the ornate room around them. Her cheeks reddened.

Lizzie Rose helped her out. "My name is Elizabeth Rose Fawr. This is my brother, Parsefall."

" 'M'not her bruvver," Parsefall corrected her around a mouthful of toast. "Me last name's Hooke."

Excerpted from Splendors and Glooms by Laura A Schlitz. Copyright © 2012 by Laura A Schlitz. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Victorian Workhouses

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Imperial Wife
    by Irina Reyn

    A smart, engaging novel that parallels two fascinating worlds and two singular women.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!


Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!