Sunday 31 July 2011

Sunday Salon: Six Months of Streatfeild

Happy gorgeous, sunny Sunday, everyone! My year of reading as much Noel Streatfeild as possible is over half way through, so I though it was time to do a roundup post...Before I do that, though here’s a short review of my latest read.
The Painted Garden (also published in the U.S as Movie Shoes)
As a young child, Apple Bough was undoubtedly my favourite Streatfeild, as it was the first one I remember reading to myself, but my favourite bedtime story that I ever had has to be The Painted Garden. This book was definintely one of the more exciting, plot wise. Because each child has an individual plot line, Streatfeild keeps the story very diverse, and the book is never boring. She is also, as always, great at getting inside a child’s head, and explaining very clearly exactly how a child would feel and react in certain situations. I love that reading her books always takes me absolutely back to my childhood. There are points in the book where I remember similar things happening to me as a child, and responding to them in exactly the same way as Rachel, Jane, and Tim do. It was a quick read, and very pacy. Almost by the time I’d got everything straight in my head, the Winters’ were back on the boat to England! The Painted Garden stood up to the re-reading very very well, and if I ever have kids, I’ll definitely be reading it to them!
Loosely promoted as the sequel to Ballet Shoes (it isn’t, really, despite briefly featuring a couple of the Fossil girls), The Painted Garden is about Streatfeild’s trademark three children, Rachel, Jane, and Tim Winter. Rachel is a talented ballerina, and Tim a talented pianist. As is also trademark with many of Streatfeild’s books, Jane, the awkward middle child, is seemingly talented at nothing. As the story begins the children’s father John is suffering a nervous breakdown following a car accident. In order for him to recover, the doctor orders him to warmer climates. As a result the entire family – John and his wife, Bee, the three children and their nanny, Peaseblossom – are invited to California to stay with Aunt Cora. Starting with the six day boat trip from Southampton to New York, the Winters’ embark on an exciting journey, via boat and train, to pastures new, where great things await for all of the children. Rachel meets Posy Fossil, the famous dancer (and of Ballet Shoes fame) who takes her under her wing, and brings her to Saturday dancing classes with a world-renowned ballet troupe, Tim finds a piano to practice on in the Antonio’s drugstore, where he is noticed and put on Hiram’s Hour, a weekly radio programme, and Jane, who dreams of one day being a lady dog walker, manages to get herself (via way of a ‘neglected’ dog named Hyde Park) the part of Mary, in a film of The Secret Garden.
So, that was a very mini review, but if I’m honest I do find it hard to write long reviews of most of Noel Streatfeild’s books. It tends to be issues around reading that they make me think about, rather than the books themselves. For instance, this most recent book made me think about the value of reading as adults, the books we loved as children, and what it is that makes certain books enjoyable as re-reads, and others book which really do only work when you’re a child. When I’ve mulled this over a bit more, there’ll probably be a post on it. In the meantime, does anybody have any ideas?
I’ve read ten of Noel Streatfeild’s books so far this year, and have another seven on my shelf. I’ve also started searching for more. The books I’ve read so far are:
·         The Growing Summer (re-read)
·         White Boots (re-read)
·         Dancing Shoes (re-read)
·         Apple Bough(re-read)
·         When the Siren Wailed
·         A Vicarage Family
·         Away from the Vicarage
·         Beyond the Vicarage
·         Meet the Maitlands
·         The Painted Garden (re-read)
I really can’t pick a favourite, so my top three are The Painted Garden, The Growing Summer, and White Boots.
On my shelf, I have still to read:
·         Thursday’s Child (re-read)
·         Far to Go (re-read)
·         Party Frock (re-read)
·         Tennis Shoes
·         Saplings
·         Curtain Up
·         Ballet Shoes for Anna
This challenge has been really good for me – it’s like the best kind of comfort reading. Every book is like curling up with a massive mug of tea and a big slice of cake with some awesome kind of icing. I love it!

Also, don't forget to visit tomorrow for the UK and EU Giveaway Hop that I'm taking part in! Free book, you know you want to! :-)


  1. Yay! A post! :D I hate your Internet almost as much as you do at this point lol...

    'Sunny sunday?' Are you kidding me? *huddles pitifully in the rain.

    I've never even heard of Noel Streatfeild, believe it or not. Odd, considering he seems to have written an awful lot!

  2. He's a girl actually, which I didn't know until like last year :-P and I know, my internet SUCKS! There'll be a post tomorrow too, as i've actually worked out how to schedule them in advance now lol it's annoying though cos I always feel really rushed when i'm posting now :-( oh well.... It's gorgeous weather here, finally. We've been looking into getting a beach hut, the sea is gorgeous today! (this is just to make up for all the great weather you've had lately while I'VE been shivering in the rain!)