There are four Penderwick sisters, each with her own personality, each with her own interests. They have a father and a dog, and they each love each member of the family desperately, even if they don't, and no sisters do, all get along all of the time. For the summer, Mr. Penderwick has brought the family to the Berkshires to rent out the guest cottage on the beautiful, grand, Arundel Estate. There are fields and gardens and ponds, a friendly gardener and an affectionate housekeeper; there's also a boy, Jeffrey, who lives in the mansion and who makes an excellent playmate for the girls. There is also, unfortunately, his mother, Mrs. Tifton, who is snooty and uptight and downright mean to the Penderwicks. And this book is the story of that summer.
There's not exactly one plot that drives the book. There is Jeffrey, the meeting of and playing with and rescuing of, but mostly, it's a chronicle of the adventures that the five children have, both together and separate. It's sweet and summery and feels so true that I can't help but see my childhood in these characters. It's also timeless; give or take a laptop computer, it could have taken place any time in the last hundred years. And I love the Penderwick sisters; I love their adventures and misadventures, their secrets, their pacts, the society that they make for themselves.
This book was just plain joyful.