Book Review: Greensleeves, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Shannon Lightley has reached the end of high school and wonders what to do. All her life, she’s been pulled in many directions and has tried without success to fit in. She’s lived all over Europe with both sets of famous parents, lived with her aunts and uncles in America, and now her father is demanding that she go to a European college. She doesn’t know if she even wants to go to college. She’s lonely, confused, and aching to find some real meaning in her life.
Then her Uncle Frosty offers her a chance to live on her own and do something for herself. He needs an investigation done: an elderly woman has died, leaving a substantial inheritance to a group of people in Portland, Oregon, and the will seems shady. The daughter, who is contesting the will, isn’t even mentioned. Shannon volunteers to go undercover for the summer. She assumes the identity of Georgetta Einszweiler Smith — a plain, unintelligent girl with a bad hairdo, blue eye shadow, and a flat American accent. Then she rents a room in a boarding house, which turns out to be the same room where the late Mrs. Elizabeth Dunningham, died. Shannon finds work as a waitress in a café nearby, dons her green uniform (from whence comes her nickname, Greensleeves), and the drama begins. Shannon expects to find a group of money grabbers who coerced an elderly woman out of her wealth, but as time goes by and she gets to know each of the recipients listed in the will, she realizes that nothing is going to be that simple. For one thing, there is the handsome, intelligent, George Maynard Sherrill, a college student better known as Sherry, who sees through her performance and is patient enough to want to find out who she really is. The more Shannon gets to know the different people, the more she realizes she doesn’t know herself at all. And when Sherry professes his love for her, she doesn’t know what to do.
This was an incredible book, full of laughter and unexpected twists, and just as relative today as when it was first published. I really loved it. Shannon is a delight, with her outrageous and unique way of solving problems and her quirky sense of humor. The story is also painful, for Shannon’s struggle to understand who she is and what she wants out of life is one that everyone goes through. Shannon sees the potential of each of the people she meets, and she grows to care about them. She understands why Mrs. Dunningham bequeathed money to them. With Sherry’s help, she struggles to overcome her own shyness and fears. Shannon has the maturity to recognize the difference between physical attraction and real love, as contrasted by the angry, passionate artist, Dave, and Sherry, who is gentle, patient, and loves to learn. Shannon sees the kind of man Sherry needs to become and the things he needs to do with his life in order to be truly happy, and she has to make some painful decisions. She realizes that some things must wait for when one is truly ready. This book haunted me, and I was awake until late thinking about my own life. Are we all just playing a part? When do we step out from behind the roles and masks we wear and be our real selves? Do we know who we really are? Greensleeves will move you, make you laugh, and then make you cry. It’s definitely worth reading over and over.