Away Goes Sally Critical Context - Essay

Elizabeth Coatsworth

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

In Away Goes Sally, Elizabeth Coatsworth’s first period story, she uses terms appropriate for 1790 and for the setting. In setting her work in Massachusetts and Maine, she was writing about places that she knew well and loved. While Coatsworth does not delve into the psychological depths of her characters, they are believable nevertheless. She believes in using an economy of words and is precise, writing exactly what she means. Coatsworth displays considerable warmth in her storytelling, and Away Goes Sally moves along as leisurely as the little house on runners. Sally and her family reappeared in Five Bushel Farm (1939), in which the family is established on the new farm in Maine, and in The Fair American (1940). In the latter story, Pierre, a French boy of the aristocracy, boards an American ship in an attempt to escape the aftermath of the French Revolution. Sally helps to save his life when a French officer comes aboard to look for refugees.

Many of Coatsworth’s books of historical fiction deal with problems that are universal, not caught in time: moving to what is hoped to be a better place to live in Away Goes Sally, building and getting settled in a new home in Five Bushel Farm, and suddenly becoming a refugee and finding a place to belong in The Fair American.