Skip to main content

Review: Saplings, by Noel Streatfeild


Noel Streatfeild is better known for her children’s books, particularly the Shoe books, but she also wrote novels for adults, especially one about children for adults, Saplings. In it, the children in question are the Wiltshires, Laurel, Tony, Kim, and Tueday. The novel opens with an idyllic seaside holiday trip that quickly becomes overshadowed by the war, which over the course of the novel will have a strong effect on all of the Wiltshire family, adults and children alike.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read any of the Shoe books, but I do remember, and what is apparent here, is that Streatfeild excels at writing from the perspective of children and adolescents (though of course here the subject matter is a lot darker). The war has a mostly adverse effect on the Wiltshire children, and the author captures brilliantly the uncertainty and danger of both the war and of growing up—which in and of itself can be a bit like the war at times!

The novel was published in 1945, and this story of the dissolution of a family must have been a bit more shocking back then—even though from a more modern perspective, it’s quite devastating.

This is Persephone #16 (endpaper below)

Comments

I just reread "Are you There, God? It's Me, Margaret" this week after 35 years.

Happy blogoversary!

Happy new year!
Ted said…
Great to hear about the books of Noal Stretfield - the "shoe" book were my mom's favorite childhood books! Happy New Year to you and great reading in '10.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…