Very Funny, Elizabeth!

Published in 2005; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Dan Andreasen and Susan McAliley


Ten-year-old Elizabeth has been picked on her sixteen-year-old sister Annabelle all her life. Annabelle always tries to be proper, but is actually stuck-up, and chides Elizabeth for the slightest imagined faults. But now that Elizabeth is friends with Felicity, she's discovered the strength to stand up for herself. She and Felicity even play jokes on Annabelle. When a letter arrives from a wealthy family in England suggesting Annabelle marry into it, Elizabeth is at first taken aback by the sudden changes this would entail (Annabelle would move to England and possibly never see her family again), but then thinks it might be a good opportunity for some practical jokes.

Elizabeth and Felicity say that their teasing is always for a good cause, like to help Annabelle be less snobbish. And the younger girls think it's odd than a lord would come all the way from England to find a wife. What's wrong with him that he can't find one in England? They bring up the "fact" (see below) that marriage is forever--she can't divorce if the marriage turns sour. However, it is a desirable marriage from the viewpoint of colonial America: Annabelle would be marrying up to a higher social class, and with the worsening political tensions, England might be a safer place to live.

The lord and his sister arrive a short time later, and Elizabeth soon sees that while the lord isn't a cruel man and might be quite kind, he's under his sister's thumb, and she's enough of a snobbish bully to make Annabelle look like Miss Manderly. The sister spends the better part of a week giving Elizabeth and Annabelle lessons in how to act properly among aristocracy. Elizabeth plays little jokes on Annabelle like putting a live spider on her toast to make her scream, in order to get Annabelle to realize that the sister would be an awful person to put up with (an unmarried woman, she would live with the lord and Annabelle). But the engagement is set, and even worse, Elizabeth's parents tell that she will go along to England as well! She protests and reveals the pranks she pulled in hopes that her parents will change their minds, but they're too concerned for her safety to let her stay in the colonies. She and Felicity scheme to disrupt the engagement party, which will be held that night, to prove that Elizabeth is too rough for England. They pack the sister's tall wig with snowballs.

During the party, the snow starts to melt and water flies around the room, propelled by the momentum of the dancing. The sister rushes upstairs in embarrassment, and the Coles follow with the lord. Elizabeth reveals the scheme, and the sister berates her and forbids her from coming to England. Then the lord steps in, saying he's through being bullied by his sister: he doesn't want to marry Annabelle, or anyone. Instead he wants to join Patriot army! He asks Annabelle her forgiveness, and she is only too happy to accept, for while she thinks she could grow to love him, she could never abide living with his sister. Annabelle even thanks Elizabeth for her pranks.

The next morning things are back to normal between the sisters, but at least Elizabeth can stay in Virginia.

Looking Back

While Annabelle seems young to be considering marriage by today's standards, it was commonplace for young women to marry in their late teens back in Felicity's time. Marriages tended to be more of a business arrangement than for love, especially among the upper classes. Men and women could expect to be married by their early twenties, and people who didn't marry were generally considered untrustworthy. Some single people could still make a living and be respected by their communities, like the character of Miss Manderly in the Felicity books, but it was rare.


This book is dedicated to "Sally Woods, with love and thanks for her information and inspiration."

Elizabeth is short for her age, while Felicity is tall for her age.

Yes, there was divorce in England in the 1700s. Ever heard of the Church of England? It separated from the Catholic Church in the 1500s over a variety of things, one of them being whether the king of England had the authority to dissolve marriages. It wasn't as easy to divorce then as now, but it was possible.

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