WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In April, 1819, on the Bristol road, two men rape Mary Willcox. She has already lost everything, including her self-respect, the man she loved and a baby named Solomon. When villagers find the battered, exhausted young woman, they bring her to an inn.

A bored heiress named Cassandra Worrall hears the commotion and joins the others in asking her questions. Mary has dark skin and won’t speak, so they believe she’s a foreigner who can’t understand them. Her poise, despite her disheveled condition, convinces some she may even be royalty.

Cassandra knows her mother will be fascinated by this oddity of a girl, so she takes Mary to their estate, Knole Park House. Cassandra, her mother and others in their circle are fascinated by the houseguest. They speculate endlessly, while Mary Willcox sheds her old identity and reinvents herself as Princess Caraboo.

Some, including Cassandra’s father, are skeptical about the new arrival. The Worrall women bring in experts to examine the princess’s speech and writing. One professor hooks wires to her head to read her brain waves. Captain Palmer, an old sailor with a penchant for alcohol and telling tales, claims he can understand her language. He creates an elaborate story about her past and how she was kidnapped from her homeland but escaped her captors.

Cassandra’s brother, Fred, returns home from his schooling and travels. He and his friend Edmund spend much of their time in the bars and brothels. He initially scoffs when he meets Princess Caraboo, believing her to be a phony. Cassandra and her mother continue to make Caraboo their pet, showing her off to society friends and trying to teach her to communicate with them. Caraboo wears short skirts for hunting, often kills small animals for food and creates a language and rituals for herself.

Caraboo watches Cassandra toy with the affections of a laborer named Will. The young man vows to leave for America to make his fortune so he can support Cassandra. When Cassandra becomes bored with him, she begins flirting with Edmund. Caraboo senses Fred is a philanderer, so she decides she will seduce him and break his heart to teach him a lesson. Meanwhile, Captain Palmer corners Caraboo and says he knows she’s pulling a scam. He threatens her and says he will keep her secret, but only if she will travel with him and perform in side shows.

As more and more people come to interview, paint portraits or simply gawk at Princess Caraboo, Mary wonders how long she can keep up her game. She fears Captain Palmer and wants to escape him, and she ponders trying to go to America. When she finally decides to leave Knole Park House for good, she finds herself in a street where Fred is being attacked by thugs.

She knows she can’t leave him to die, so she gets him to a doctor. She speaks to Fred in her native English to tell him she’s leaving. Fred is angry at having been fooled and calls for a constable. When he considers the scandal this discovery could bring to his family, he conditionally agrees to let Mary go. She must stay in character for a few more days and attend the party his mother has been planning.

Fred watches at the party as aristocrats offer their conjectures about Caraboo and pretend to be important. He realizes Caraboo is no more a liar or phony than anyone else. Fred and Caraboo talk, and she explains she never set out to hurt or steal from anyone. She simply wanted to be someone other than Mary Willcox.

The night after the party, Captain Palmer takes some of Mrs. Worrall’s jewels and tells Caraboo they’re leaving. Fred arrives just as Caraboo pushes the captain off the roof to his death. Fred knows Caraboo needs to make her escape immediately. Everyone will think she fled because she was upset after witnessing the captain’s death. Fred helps her get out of town, and she makes her way to New York. A year later, after Caraboo has established herself as a governess, Fred comes to America and asks her to start a new life with him.

Christian Beliefs

Mary prays as she’s being attacked on the road. She doesn’t expect much help because the Lord doesn’t look kindly on girls like her. Her previous prayers had profited her nothing, so she assumes God thinks she doesn’t deserve anything better. She says she doesn’t imagine St. Peter would admit her to heaven after all that’s happened to her, but hell couldn’t be any worse than this world.

Mary remembers having won prizes at the Primitive Baptist Church as a child for her knowledge of the Scriptures. Cassandra makes every oath she knows and prays God will make Will disappear so she doesn’t have to deal with him. Mary tells Fred the Bible says people are to blame for everything.

Other Belief Systems

None

Authority Roles

Several characters claim to be experts who can determine Caraboo’s origins and identity. None of them have any legitimate knowledge or methodology, and most fabricate stories to save face. Mrs. Worrall takes Caraboo in because she’s bored and loves having something thrilling and mysterious to parade before others.

Profanity/Violence

The Lord’s name is used in vain. Ars-, t-t, h---, b--stard, d--n and b--ch appear. Two men rape Mary on the road. Fred recalls the sickening thump he heard when a prostitute threw herself out a window.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Fred and Edmund visit a gentleman’s club they frequent. The text describes the women there in various states of undress. The young men speak at length about the women with whom they’ve had sex and how cheaply they can have their desires fulfilled.

Fred pays to sleep with a new girl who is too squeamish to have sex with him. He treats her like an object, repeatedly failing to call her by her correct name. He thinks she needs to understand that this job is her lot in life, and he knows he can’t tell Edmond he didn’t have sex with the woman.

While the new girl is still naked in bed, one of Fred’s regular partners enters the room. She’s in love with Fred and wants him to buy her out of this lifestyle. She lies and tells him she’s pregnant with his child. She threatens to kill herself, like another prostitute did recently, by throwing herself out a window.

Mary had been in love with a man who got her pregnant. She then discovered he’d married another woman. Fred and Edmund leer at most women, including Caraboo. Cassandra emerges from a talk with Will, and Caraboo thinks she looks like she’s been flat on her back in the hay.

Cassandra kisses Will several times. The captain puts his hand on Caraboo’s thigh, and she slaps it away. Caraboo seduces Fred.

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Captain Palmer is an alcoholic and frequently appears drunk.

Historical note: An author's note reveals that a real woman named Mary Wilcocks/Wilcox (this story spells "Wilcox" with two l's instead of one), became a newspaper sensation after fooling many people about her identity.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

9 to 12 years (but a warning on the back of the book jacket says “Not suitable for younger readers.”)

Author

Catherine Johnson

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Corgi Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Publishers UK, a Penguin Random House Company

Released

On Video

Year Published

2015

Awards

Unknown

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!