About the Book

Title: When Patty Went to College (Patty #2)
Published: 1903
Series: Patty

Cover Story: N/A
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition
Swoonworthy Scale: Sisters Before Misters!
Talky Talk: Jean Motherlovin’ Webster
Bonus Factors: Women’s College, Practical Jokes, Jean Webster
Relationship Status: Kindred Spirits

Cover Story: N/A

I couldn’t find a real cover for this book, another tragic sign that the works of the great Jean Webster are being regrettably overlooked by society. Someday, when I have lots of time (read: this summer when I’m supposed to be writing my dissertation), I’m going to design beautiful covers for all her novels and then everyone will want to read them and my life will have meaning and purpose.

The Deal:

Patty Wyatt is a student at a women’s college in the beginning of the 20th century. She is a bright but irresponsible student, coasting through her senior year largely on charm and a talent for bullshit. Instead of studying, she devotes most of her time and efforts in productivity towards shenanigans with her pals.

BFF Charm: Platinum Edition

BFF platinum charm

Every since we created this Platinum Edition charm, I feel like we’ve been handing it out like candy. Accordingly, I try to be pretty selective about who gets my bling. So when I started this book, I was totally biased against Patty, because nobody could ever, ever live up to my first Jean Webster love, Judy Abbott. Patty could be an emphatic YAY in the BFF department, but no way was she getting a platinum charm.

And then she just charmed the pants off of me, like she does with everyone. Dammit, Patty! Why do you have to be so delightful?

Swoonworthy Scale: Sisters before Misters!

This book is all about how great women’s colleges are (as well as the relationships formed therein), and that’s far more important than the multitude of gentlemen callers coming to visit Patty and her friends.

Talky Talk: Jean Motherlovin’ Webster

Hell yeah she gets her own category! She’s that good. I was a little concerned that this being her first, more obscure novel, it wouldn’t live up to the hilarity that is Daddy-Long-Legs. When will I ever learn to just trust Jean in her infinite talent and wisdom? Once again, this book left me wanting to quote entire chapters in my review, but I’ll restrict myself to just this one passage:

Her instructor was a man who had outlived any early illusions in regard to the superior conscientiousness of girls over boys. He was not by nature a suspicious person, but a long experience in teaching had inculcated an inordinate wariness which was sometimes out of season. He allowed no napping in his classes, and those who did not pay attention suffered. Patty discovered his weakness early in the year, and planned her campaign accordingly. As long as she did not understand the experiment in hand, she would watch him with a face beaming with intelligence; but when she did understand, and wished to recite, she would let her eyes wander to the window with a dreamy, far-away smile, and, being asked a question, would come back to the realities of chemistry with a start, and, after a moment of ostentatious pondering, make a brilliant recitation. It must be confessed that her moments of abstraction were rare; she was far too often radiantly interested.

This comes from a chapter detailing the various ways in which Patty tricks her professors into thinking she’s a good student, which could double as a biographical chapter of my own life.

Bonus Factor: Women’s College

In my review of Daddy-Long-Legs, I waxed poetic about how much I loved women’s colleges. This entire book is basically an ode to women’s colleges. Webster manages to boil down the whole of the women’s college experience into a timeless essence; I went to college a full century after Patty, and yet it feels like very little has changed.

Bonus Factor: Practical Jokes

Patty and her friends are always getting up to hilarious hijinks in an extreme fashion that I could totally get down with. One of the practical jokes necessitates her friend Georgie spending a full Saturday on a superfluous German essay just to screw with Patty’s roommate. This is exactly the kind of thing that I would do. Try to get me to do mandatory work for class? No way in hell. But write an extra essay, in a foreign language, all in the name of a few good chuckles? Absofuckinglutely.

Bonus Factor: Jean Webster

Yeah, she gets her own bonus factor, too, cause she’s JUST THAT AWESOME. How, awesome, you ask? Well first of all, she is Mark Twain’s great niece. I wonder from which side of the family she gets her writing talent? Second, When Patty Went to College was published when she was just 27. Which means that if I want to fulfill my newly-minted dream of becoming Jean Webster when I grow up, I need to get cracking. Third, and perhaps most importantly, former president Theodore Roosevelt invited himself on her honeymoon, because “I’ve always wanted to meet Jean Webster. We can put up a partition in the cabin.”

Obviously, that was poor form on Teddy’s part. I mean, just because you were President of the United States doesn’t make it ok for you to invite yourself onto other people’s honeymoons. But leaving that aside, how COOL do you have to be for a president to invite himself onto your honeymoon? PRETTY DAMN COOL.

Unfortunately, Jean died after the birth her first child about a year after her third wheeling presidential honeymoon extravaganza. This is super duper upsetting for a whole host of reasons, several of them very selfishly relating to the small number of books Webster left the world. But seriously, if childbirth had a face, I would punch it SO HARD right now.

Relationship Status: Kindred Spirits

I knew almost immediately that this book and I were going to be the best of friends. Sure, it might not have all the things I normally look for in a book, like romantic sensibilities or any semblance of plot, but none of that matters. When we’re together, everything is about a thousand times more fun.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). When Patty Went to College is available now.


Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.