Apple Bough was my absolute favourite book for a while, when I was around 8. I used to borrow it from my school library over and over again, until they made me let somebody else have a turn. It is the most comforting, reassuring book I can think of, and rereading it didn't disappoint me.
Apple Bough is a big, old house, with an overgrown garden. The kind of house that's a bit dilapidated, a bit the worse for wear, kind of like the threadbare teddy you've had forever, whose ear is falling off because you cuddled him too much. It is home to the Forum children: Myra, Sebastian, Wolfgang, and Ethel, and their parents. When Sebastian is eight, he gets noticed as a child prodigy violinist, and all of the children have to go on tour with him. Apple Bough is sold, and the children become 'world citizens'.
Basically, the book is about children who want a home. The obstacle to this is that all of the younger children are extraordinarily talented: Sebastian a violinist, Wolfgang an actor and wannabe writer of pop songs, and Ethel a dancer. What Streatfeild does so well here, as in so much of her work, is to present the plight of the child who believes herself to be completely untalented and worthless.
There's a huge wish fulfilment quality in Streatfeild's work, and the endings are almost always happy. Of the novels that I've read so far, the ones that I adore the most are the ones with the most fantastically impossible happy endings; the kind of endings you always want in reality, and only ever get in books. This is still one of my absolute favourite books, ever.
When the Siren Wailed