Interactive Historical Fiction e-books

The Queen's Own Grove by Patricia Beatty, Illustrated by Liz Dauber

queens own grove

Amelia Bromfield-Brown looked out the train window. What she saw was discouraging: flat, parched-looking ground, dotted with cactus plants; hills, behind them, mountains; a cloudless, hot sky.

The rest of Amelia’s family did nor see, to feel optimistic, either. “Well!” Grandmother snapped out so loudly that half the railroad car turned to look at them. “If this is where we are to live, I have only one thing to say.” She paused dramatically, then announced, “Riverside, California, is going to be the absolute end of the world!”

Thus the Bromfield-Browns arrived in the California of the 1880’s, having wended their arduous way from England via Canada. They were moving to the desert climate for Father’s health, but they soon found that this problem was only one of a legion, including such things as white scale, the terrible Applebooms, and Grandmother’s social life.

Led by the indefatigable Amelia, the three Bromfield-Brown children attack their problems in a brisk, uncompromising way. Patricia Beatty, evoking the mood of the day, continues to delight her readers in this sprightly historical novel.



The Bromfield-Brown family was headed by Grandmother Thorup, who had grown up with and was a dead ringer for her beloved Queen Victoria. Only indisputable orders from the doctor about Mr. B-B’s health could budge the family from England, but Grandmother at last agreed to forge ahead—“The Colonies are England’s children. We must bear that in mind constantly—that we shall really never leave English soil!” From Canada they are ordered on to Southern California (“the absolute end of the world!”). The story of how the proper English family adjusts to the ramshackle, desert town (and vice versa) is banked with problems which are always almost disastrous but most enjoyable.

The narrator is Amelia, the oldest of the three Bromfield-Brown children, and while she sighs that “We’re too well- bred, that’s what’s wrong with us,” they are far from inactive. With the assistance of their Chinese servant they bring their neighbors, the over-populated, under-disciplined Applebooms into line by impersonating spirits at a seance; they resolve an old family feud which had blocked Grandmother’s admission into the much-desired tennis club; they overcame the threat of the white scale disease to their orange grove; and they even show signs of becoming Americanized.

As always with this author, the characters and dialogue are excellent, and the incidents as real as they are funny.
— Kirkus