This is the first book in the Dana Girls series. Louise and Jean are sisters. Louise has dark hair and is serious, whereas Jean is boyish and outgoing. They are orphans and live in Oak Falls with their Uncle Ned. They attend the Starhurst School for Girls in Penfield, and are sophomores.
Cora Appel is an incredibly clumsy and basically useless maid. Aunt Harriet is in charge of the house.
The story starts with their Uncle Ned sending the girls a present of a lamp. It's only a matter of minutes before the lamp is stolen, though, and this leads us through a tail of crooked shopkeepers, a gypsy-like female thief, police involvement and skulking. Lots and lots of skulking.
At the school the girls have their own counterparts. Lettie Briggs is their main nemesis. She's ultra-snooty and is no where near as smart as she thinks she is. Lettie has one follower, Ina Mason, who's very shy and basically as unsure of herself as Lettie is sure of herself.
Another girl that plays a role is Evelyn Starr. Her family fell on hard times and had to sell the house that the school is now located in. She has a brother that is doing his best, but financially she may not be able to stay at the school.
There's a good bit of humor in the books when one of Lettie's plans to get even with the Dana girls goes awry, and most of the time her plans do just that. There's also a lot of tension, though, what with the skulking and thieving and, yes, rescuing guys that fall into the river and nearly drown.
It's a really enjoyable first book in the series.
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