Book Review: The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright

17 July 2012

When you fall in love with a book, there is nothing so heartbreaking as the Last Page. The words "The End" might as well say "Good Luck Living After This", because they have the same effect. For a while, you wander about your house like a shadow, your favorite scenes playing themselves over and over again in your head. "The End" broke the gossamer that had left you encased in a dreamworld for days, and now you are left to contend with the Real World.

. . . That is, unless the author had the foresight to write a sequel and put you out of your misery.

The Four-Story Mistake
By Elizabeth Enright
*Summary via

Into the Four-Story Mistake, an odd-looking house with a confused architectural history, move the Melendy family — Mona, Rush, Randy, Oliver, Father, and Cuffy, the housekeeper. Though disappointed about leaving their old brownstone in New York City, and apprehensive about living the country life, the four Melendy kids soon settle into this unusual new home. Here, they become absorbed in the adventures of the country, adjusting themselves with all their accustomed resourcefulness and discovering the many hidden attractions that the Four-Story Mistake has to offer.

My Thoughts: Sequels are hard, and sometimes it is in the author's best interests to only write one book. Recapturing the reader's attention without having the story grow dry or not so good as the original is a difficult task. With that thought in mind, I think Elizabeth Enright was born to write sequels. The Four-Story Mistake is every bit as charming as The Saturdays; perhaps a bit more, with the added interest of the country location. Mona, Rush, Randy, and Oliver have made no groundbreaking changes, and are in their own (relatively) pure forms, just waiting for you to take a peek into their never dull life.

Unlike in The Saturdays, when the Melendy children found adventure outside their old brownstone home on their respective Saturday outings, in this book, they realize that there is a great deal of treasure right under their very noses. This includes (but is not limited to) the tree that allows Rush to climb right out his window, the cellar that becomes Oliver's sanctuary, Randy's diamond, and the sixty year old secret hidden within their very own Office. And of course, we couldn't forget The Show. All in all, it's a wonderful book that will wrap itself around your heart immediately. Ms. Enright clearly knows how to write a good sequel.

Pros: Endearing little epistles that are adventurous and wholesome at the same time. Elizabeth Enright has the gift of writing about children realistically — not an easy thing, I assure you — and her Melendys leap right off the page and into your heart. When I first read this book, I was fourteen years old (not quite the target age range, I should guess), and I still found myself caught up entirely in the delightful mishaps of this wonderful family.

Cons: None that come to mind.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 8+

A Bit O' Reading For the Day:
"You know, Randy," Mona said solemnly, as she put on her tall, gilt cardboard crown, "this is Life!" . . . "H-m-m!" grunted Cuffy. "Tomorrow we'll have a powerful lot of cleaning up and dishwashing to do, don't forget. And that's life, too." — The Four-Story Mistake, chapter 7

3 epistles:

  1. I read this book when I was little! I'd like to reread it; I wonder if my perception of it has changed. Sometimes I reread things I read when I was younger and find they're still brilliant, but sometimes it feels like they lose their charm. I don't know.

  2. Those first lines? Too true, too true.

  3. Speaking of sequels, the next book in the series, Then There Were Five, is also an all-time favorite, and every bit as good as The Saturdays and Four-Story Mistake. Thank you Elizabeth Enright for letting us spend so much time in the good company of the Melendy family!


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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