Cover image for Educating Waverley
Educating Waverley
Kalpakian, Laura.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2002]

Physical Description:
325 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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In the autumn of 1939 young Waverley Scott arrives on remote Isadora Island in the Puget Sound. She is to be a student at Temple School -- banished, she knows, because her features too closely resemble those of hermother's married employer. Alone, abandoned, and unloved, Waverley stepsoff the rain-washed boat and into the eccentric world of Temple School. The headmistress of this all-girl school, Sophia Westervelt, has amysterious past and a passion for education. She instills achievement intoher students, confident that one day they will have "dinner with theKing of Sweden," that they will win the Nobel Prize. Sophia is animmortal teacher, and under her direction, Waverley grows as her ownabilities and vision expand. But far away in Europe, nations clash, andeven isolated Isadora Island feels the impact. Sophia Westervelt struggles to keep Temple School going, though formidableforces combine against her. And in the midst of this turmoil, for thefirst time, Waverley experiences love -- a love so fierce and sensual that,like her education, it will shape the rest of her life.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Kalpakian (Steps and Exes, 1999) has proven herself a remarkably versatile writer in terms of her themes and settings. This novel is no exception as it follows Waverly Scott, who looks too much like her mother's married lover and so is shipped off to remote Isadora Island in 1939 to attend the Temple School. Rather than the dreary place Waverly has envisioned, the school turns out to provide her with the loving family she has always wanted. Headmistress Sophia Westervelt, former pupil of Isadora Duncan, brings a free-spirited approach to her training of the "North American Women of the Future." However, her main source of funding--her indulgent father--has died, and war has broken out in Europe, so the staff is considerably thinner and more distracted than usual. Within this chaotic atmosphere, Sophia, Avril, and local boy Sandy Lomax form a love triangle. They are eventually discovered and separated, but their experience stays with them, shaping their futures in unexpected ways. With her engrossing, offbeat plot and headstrong, eccentric characters, the talented Kalpakian has come up with another winner. --Joanne Wilkinson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kalpakian's narrative skill and interest in generational legacies are evident in her latest novel, in which the theory of progressive education becomes the catalyst for a fateful intertwining of several lives. The setting is Temple School, founded by Sophia Westerveldt, the daughter of a lumber tycoon. Sophia had an affair with avant-garde painter Denis Aron in France, where she'd gone to develop her artistic sensibility before WWI. After the war she returned to Washington and, with her husband, started the experimental school for "North American Women of the Future" on Kalpakian's trademark setting, Isadora Island in Puget Sound. Waverly Scott, the 14-year-old illegitimate daughter of a rich man and his secretary, arrives at the school in 1939. Although Temple is past its prime, the next two years are the most important of Waverly's life, because she meets Avril Aron, the daughter of Sophia's old lover, who in 1940 is sent from occupied Paris. Avril and Waverly eventually become "Wavril," two bodies, one soul. Both girls fall for Sandy Lomax, a local boy with aspirations, who becomes Wavril's lover in a teen mnage trois. Their summer of love is cut short when Waverly's mother removes her from the school. While Waverly fails to adjust to mainstream life, Avril marries Sandy and gives birth to a daughter before an accident changes everybody's life. Two decades later, Waverly returns to Isadora, where, adopting the nom de plume of Nona York, she becomes a successful romance writer. Memories of her youth are forcefully rekindled when her summer temp turns out to bear the legacy of long-ago love. References to characters in her previous Steps and Exes add depth to Kalpakian's story, but the narrative's main appeal lies in the well-kept secrets that eventually surface, casting the shadow of history on destinies formed in the wake of tragic events. (May) Forecast: This is Kalpakian's most complex and moving novel so far, and it will profit from handselling to readers who like romantic stories told with literary flourish. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Veteran novelist and short-story writer Kalpakian (Delinquent Virgin) spins a fascinating tale of Waverley Scott's experiences from age 14 to the final stages of her life as an elderly, reclusive romance novelist. At 14, Waverley is unformed and uninformed but not nave; she realizes that she has been sent to Temple School on isolated Isadora Island because she looks too much like her mother's married employer (also Waverley's "guardian"). Traveling with them on almost continuous business trips, she has not attended school or made friends. At Temple School, Waverley is inspired by independent, impractical headmistress Sophia Westervelt and forms a bond with classmates and Sandy Lomax, a local island boy. From these first significant relationships, Waverley forms her opinions on love, romance, and the independence of women. The characters are endearingly human and eccentric; the reader will empathize with their plights as they fulfill their destinies against the background of World War II. At times lighthearted and at other times heartbreaking, Kalpakian's novel is spellbinding from start to finish. Recommended for academic and public libraries. Cheryl L. Conway, Univ. of Arkansas Lib., Fayetteville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.