Cover image for Nancy's story, 1765
Nancy's story, 1765
Nixon, Joan Lowery.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
176 pages : illustrations ; 19 cm.
In 1765, twelve-year-old Nancy worries about effect of the British Stamp Act on her father's silversmith business in Williamsburg and about how to get along with her new stepmother.
Reading Level:
690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.8 5.0 44822.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.2 7 Quiz: 22820.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction On Display

On Order



The year is 1765, and there's a lot going on in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Stamp Act has just been passed, and many colonists are protesting it because nobody knows what it will mean to the colonies as a whole. Twelve-year-old Nancy Geddy is concerned that the act will make her friend Tom lose his apprenticeship at the Geddy family's foundry. Besides that, Nancy has her own problems. Her stepmother, Elizabeth, is making Nancy's life miserable with her constant complaining and criticism. Nothing Nancy does is good enough for her. Now Elizabeth's difficult pregnancy is threatening to ruin Nancy's opportunity to attend her grandmother's Christmas ball. Will Nancy find a way to accept Elizabeth's different ways and come to love her as a mother?

Author Notes

Joan Lowery Nixon was born in Los Angeles, California. She attended the University of Southern California where she received a B.A. in journalism and later an education certificate from California State.

She has written over 100 mystery books for young adults. She is known for her Orphan Train Adventure Series and other titles including A Family Apart, The Seance and Other Side of the Dark. Her works have earned her the honor of being the only writer to win four Edgar Allen Poe awards and in addition, two Spurs from Western Writers of America. She was a past President of the Mystery Writers of America.

She died from complications of pancreatic cancer on June 28, 2003, in Houston, Texas. She was 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-6. Nancy Geddy's father is a silversmith in colonial Williamsburg. He fears economic recriminations stemming from protesting the hated Stamp Act. He also fears local boycotts if he does not go along with the popular protest position. Veteran mystery writer Nixon has penned a "history as story" tale from 12-year-old Nancy's point of view, basing it on the records of a real family. Nancy struggles with a difficult stepmother, helps the family's slave, Grace, learn to read, and looks for fun wherever she can. The emphasis is on the history, with the story bringing to life day-to-day experience as well as the complexity of pre^-Revolutionary War politics. Information about Williamsburg, colonial childhood, and the Stamp Act is appended. --Anne O'Malley



Nancy Geddy, clutching her market basket, stomped on the dried leaves in her path. She angrily kicked at a small stone, sending it flying. "Why does she always have to interfere?" Nancy muttered under her breath. Grace, the family's house slave, a tall girl only a few years older than Nancy, spoke up from behind Nancy. "Sorry, Miss Nancy," Grace said. "I didn't exactly hear what you said." "Never mind, Grace. 'Twas nothing," Nancy answered. Although the day--Wednesday, October 30, 1765--was crisp, sunny, and beautiful, Nancy scowled at a nearby squirrel that was scampering up the trunk of an oak tree. She was certain that Grace had heard her. But Grace, who wanted no part of any problem--no matter what the problem was--offered only one infuriating answer to anything Nancy complained about: "You must make do, Miss Nancy. Just make do." But Nancy didn't want to make do. For three years--ever since she was nine--Nancy had walked to Market Square each morning, first accompanied by her grandmother, who had lived with Nancy and her father, and then by Grace. Nancy had loved those mornings with her grandmother and had eagerly learned how to buy meats and vegetables with care. She felt special pride when, a few months later, Grandmother entrusted her with the task of doing the daily marketing. On one occasion at Market Square, Nancy had met Mrs. Anne Wetherburn, a family friend. Mrs. Wetherburn had patted Nancy's shoulder and beamed at her. "Your housewifery skills are a credit to your grandmother," she'd said. "You're so like your dear mother, Nancy. I know how proud of you your father must be and how proud your mother would have been." Nancy had happily smiled in return. She'd been certain that the daily chore of marketing, in addition to her other household tasks, was what her mother would have wanted her to do. Nancy basked in her grandmother's praise, too. Anne Geddy was delighted with Nancy's growing ability to care for the family and their beautiful two-story house at the corner of Palace and Duke of Gloucester streets. Working side by side with Grace, who had only recently joined the household, Nancy had absorbed Grandmother's lessons on how to do the chores of laundry, gardening, plain sewing, raising poultry, pickling or potting food to preserve it, cooking the meals, airing the mattresses, dusting, and sweeping the floors with wet sand, following with a sweeping of fresh sage. There were also special lessons just for Nancy. She'd learned to plan meals for her father, her grandmother, herself, and Grace, and she'd learned to grow her own vegetables and herbs. Nancy also enjoyed her grandmother's lessons in reading, writing, and ciphering. Anne Geddy always had plenty of hugs for her and liked to tell Nancy affectionate stories about her mother or about Nancy's baby years. Nancy sighed as she thought about her mother. She had died when Nancy was still an infant. Nancy's father had once told her that her mother possessed a joyful spirit. She had smiled and laughed easily and had doted on her baby daughter. "Dear child, you have your mother's lovely features," he had said. "I see the same soft brown hair and sparkling eyes." He had smiled. "And the exact same saucy tilt to your nose." Only a baby when she lost her mother, Nancy was too young to have memories and couldn't even picture her mother's face. But sometimes she'd whisper over and over, "Elizabeth . . . Elizabeth." It was a lovely name. It was her mother's name. And often--especially during quiet dinners and long evenings when Grandmother had retired early and Papa seemed to be lost inside himself--Nancy wished with all her heart that she could have her mother back again. Beautiful, loving Elizabeth would hug Nancy, and sing to her, and read with her, and teach her to bake tarts even juicier and sweeter than Mrs. Wetherburn's. And oh, how they would laugh together! Then fate had played a cruel trick. When Nancy was ten an Elizabeth had come into her life. The problem was that it was the wrong Elizabeth. Elizabeth Waddill was quiet, solemn, and plainspoken. She wasn't given to laughter, comforting hugs, or loving pats. Worst of all, she was Nancy's stepmother, and when she moved into the Geddys' home, Grandmother moved to her own property several miles away. James Geddy had brought Elizabeth home and informed Nancy they were to be married. At first, shock had kept Nancy from speaking out. She knew Miss Waddill, the plain, shy, unmarried sister of William Waddill. William was an engraver who had occasionally worked with Nancy's father. Common courtesy had caused Nancy to hold her tongue until Elizabeth had left the room and couldn't hear them. It was then Nancy had confronted her father in tears. "How could you decide to marry Miss Waddill without telling me?" she had cried. James Geddy's face had reddened and he had stared down at his boot tops. "A man needs a wife to manage his household, and a daughter needs a mother." "She's not a mother! She's a stepmother!" Nancy had sobbed. She knew that her father hated confrontations of any sort, but she was too upset to care. "And she wasn't friendly to me. Couldn't you see? She didn't even smile." "She's shy. And she's a little concerned about being mother to a half-grown daughter. You'll find when you know Elizabeth that--" "Elizabeth!" Nancy had shouted. "Why does her name have to be Elizabeth?" Nancy had wanted her father to hold her in his arms, to reassure her that he loved her and that he had always appreciated all she'd done to help create a happy home for him. But he'd sunk into a nearby chair and dropped his chin to his chest. "Nancy, your outburst surprises me. I'd expected you to be joyful about my marriage. I thought you would do your best to make your new mother feel welcome." Excerpted from Nancy's Story, 1765 by Joan Lowery Nixon All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.