The last two Charlotte Years books are the most interesting, in my opinion. Perhaps it’s because Charlotte is of a more relatable, readable age—8 and 11, respectively—and so the problems and lessons of the book are more directly related to her, as opposed to simply something she observes. The Road from Roxbury is still not a great book, but it’s at least better than On Tide Mill Lane.
The Road from Roxbury deals with new babies, new schoolteachers, new technology, new friends, and new responsibilities. Each chapter is still more “slice of life” than anything else, but there are some plot threads running throughout to unite them. My favorite is perhaps the schoolmaster plot arc, though the plot arc that deals with jealousy, sullenness, and a near-death scare is also quite good. The rest is typical Wiley and typical Charlotte Years—vaguely interesting, but ultimately lacking in charm. It ends on the cheesy sort of note that Wiley is fond of striking—grand pronouncements and dreams that seem to come out of nowhere and are triggered by the most random things.
Having an older Charlotte makes the books more relatable and less observational, but there’s still something lacking from the Charlotte Years that I can’t quite pin down. Charm, or quality, or depth, or something. The Road from Roxbury is an improvement on the first two books, but it’s still a far cry from a good, solid, timeless children’s book.