Skip to main content

The Staircase

Review

The Staircase

Once again, Ann Rinaldi outdoes herself in her gripping historical novel, THE STAIRCASE. The book is full to the brim with Catholics versus Methodists, a mysterious missing staircase, an abused kitten, and a motherless baby.

Lizzy Enders is traveling the Santa Fe Trail with her mother and father, heading for Colorado. On their way they plan to deliver Elinora, the bishop's granddaughter, to the Sisters of Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico. However, Lizzy's mother becomes ill and dies on the journey. After they bury her mother, Lizzy and her father head for the school where they will leave Elinora. Once there, however, Lizzy's father deserts her --- he evidently did not intend to have her accompany him to Colorado. She is furious because he left without a good-bye or an explanation.

Having been brought up as a Methodist, Lizzy does not understand this strange Catholic religion, and she does not want to. Lizzy's determination and spunk often get her into trouble with the girls and especially with the Mother Superior. When Lizzy befriends a poor, wandering carpenter and persuades the bishop to let him build a staircase to the choir loft, she starts all kinds of trouble with the girls and the nuns. They want a miracle, not a practical solution to the problem. But even Lizzy does not understand the mystery surrounding the carpenter. As Lizzy tries to help the people in the convent and avoid trouble with the other girls, she begins to understand why her father left her and to accept her mother's death.

There's plenty of action, mystery, and sensitivity built into this story. Fourteen-year-old Lizzy has to find out what she really wants and learn to understand the reasons behind what people do --- and forgive.

The story, which takes place in the 1870s, is based on the legend of the "miraculous" staircase at the Chapel of Loretto in Santa Fe. Ann Rinaldi calls her book, "a different historical novel."

Reviewed by Audrey Marie Danielson on June 1, 2002

The Staircase
by Ann Rinaldi

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2002
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Graphia
  • ISBN-10: 0152167889
  • ISBN-13: 9780152167882