May 14, 2008

Next comes Rita. Rita in this book makes sense as an expansion on Rita in Three Margarets. But she’s also really annoying. Rita lives in Cuba, and in Three Margarets she was constantly talking about Spain’s oppression of Cuba and doing interpretive dances and stuff. But now the Spanish-American War is on, and Rita’s still being melodramatic and silly and actually causing trouble for the people who are really fighting.

Rita’s father has just died and left her to the care of her stepmother, with whom she doesn’t get along, to put it mildly. So when the stepmother wants to go into a convent for the duration of the war and take Rita with her, Rita runs away to the mountains to find her brother and the Cuban Army. Her brother is dismayed when she shows up, because a sentimental teenager is no use in an army camp in the woods, but Rita has no idea that she’s causing trouble. So of course she continues to do so.

Much of the story is told in letters, which is a very effective way of showing how much Rita’s version of events is twisted to suit her ideas. I kept wondering what John and Margaret were thinking. I imagine there was a lot of cringing involved.

Over the course of the book Rita learns not to wake the servants to do things she’s perfectly capable of doing herself, and how not to faint at the sight of blood, and she becomes much less of a silly brat. She’s still not as cool as Peggy, though.


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