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Saplings (Persephone Classics) [Paperback]

Noel Streatfeild , Jeremy Holmes
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.00
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (23 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906462089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906462086
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 13.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

A 1945 novel by the famous author of Ballet Shoes about what happens to a family during WWII. Preface by Jeremy Holmes. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Noel Streatfeild is best known as a writer for children, but had not thought of writing for them until persuaded to re-work her first novel as Ballet Shoes; this had sold ten million copies by the time of her death. Saplings (1945), her tenth book for adults, is also about children: a family with four of them, to whom we are first introduced in all their secure Englishness in the summer of 1939. 'Her purpose is to take a happy, successful, middle-class pre-war family – and then track in miserable detail the disintegration and devastation which war brought to tens of thousands of such families,' writes the psychiatrist Dr Jeremy Holmes in his Afterword. Her ‘supreme gift was her ability to see the world from a child’s perspective' and ‘she shows that children can remain serene in the midst of terrible events as long as they are handled with love and openness.’ She is particularly harsh on middle-class authoritarianism and understood that 'the psychological consequences of separating children from their parents was glossed over in the rush to ensure their physical survival. War posed a terrible Hobson's choice for families, and it was only afterwards that the toll it had taken could begin to be recognised. . . It is fascinating to watch Streatfeild casually and intuitively anticipate many of the findings of developmental psychology over the past fifty years.' --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Children at war 12 Nov 2001
By Lynette Baines VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The Wiltshires are an ordinary middle class family just before the beginning of WWII. Mum, Dad and four children are portrayed in the opening chapter as almost too cloyingly contented on their annual seaside holiday. This first chapter does not prepare the reader for the course the book will take. As the war begins and the family has to adapt, the children's secure world begins to fragment. Streatfeild's insights into the psychology of children are excellent. She makes each of these children, Laurel, Tony, Kim and Tuesday an individual who reacts to the gradual breakup of their family in their own totally realistic way. The adults in the story, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers and servants, fail the children in fundamental ways, with few exceptions. This is a moving story of the disintegration of a family in wartime. The experience of evacuees, and the consequences of children being seperated from their parents and siblings is beautifully done. Above all, the novel is well-written, full of interest and packed with characters the reader grows to care about. I loved Ballet shoes as a child, and Saplings has the same quality of observing and understanding children.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By A. Hope
Format:Paperback
It is true that this is not a happy book in many ways, the slow destruction of a happy family (although at the beginning you sense that happiness to be fragile) is not a cheerful topic. This however is a beautifully written novel, very readable, with fabulously drawn characters, realistic, and often flawed. Noel Streatfeild wrote about children so well, their voices are so authentic and the reader is able to identify with them, and their little agonies - and really feels the larger tragedies that enter their lives, as we can all remember what it was to be a child, not fully understanding the world around us. The reality of WW2 - and its effects upon family life is what is at the heart of this novel, and these effects are most keenly felt by the children of the family, but the adult characters are just as well portrayed and explored. I loved every page of this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, perceptive, but very sad 23 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is, as the others have said, about a family torn apart by the Second World War. The four children, Lauren, Tony, Kim and Tuesday, are thrust from pillar to post by evacuation and the death of their father.

What is fantastic about this book is that while the many adults pretty much universally fail the children, they aren't "baddies", rather they are good people trying to do the right thing in difficult circumstances. With the exception of Aunt Lindsay, you can really see why the adults behave as they do, but at the same time, also see why the children suffer so much. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handle with care 7 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a disturbing and thought-provoking book,which shows with great sensitivity how fragile our sense of belonging and security can be. Both adults and children have their lives uprooted by the onset and consequences of the Second World War and the way that this affects their growth and relationships is set out with compassion and insight. None of the characters are judged by Streatfeild even when they are thoughtless, careless and selfish; her awareness of children's emotions and her ability to convey the great pains and hurts which can go unnoticed in life are outstanding. This is not a comfortable read, but it is a great one. Please read it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The demise of the family unit. 25 Feb 2011
By Serendipity Reviews TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Like many of us, I grew up secretly wishing I could be a member of the Fossil family from Noel Streatfeild's children's book 'Ballet Shoes'. This book was cherished throughout my childhood and is still loved today. Over the years I began to collect her other children's book, but I was quite surprised to discover last year that Noel Streatfeild had also written books for adults. So it was an easy decision for me to pick Saplings as my Persephone choice.

Saplings is a much darker tale then any of the children's books written by Streatfeild, but ultimately it deals with children. The story revolves around a happy, middle class family who are shown in the opening pages to be enjoying a family holiday at the seaside. The children are carefree and enjoying the holiday in the hope that it will last forever. The war is still just a rumour and they have no need to fear the future. However their father Alex, who is very much a family man, is more aware than others that their lives will change, so he goes to great lengths to make their holiday together one to remember.

As the story progresses, World War 2 commences and you are given a clear insight into how the war alters the family. Each and every person, from the young to the old are ravaged by the effects of war and you cannot help but want to comfort them all.

The main theme of this book is the effects of the war on the children. The last line of the book could not be more ironic, as the house help Mrs Oliver announces 'We got a lot to be thankful for in this country. Our kids 'aven't suffered 'o-ever else 'as' This could not be further from the truth, as you witness the downward spiral of devastation on each child within the book as war rips apart the close knit family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant, believable, wonderfully observed 3 Sep 2012
By Alun Williams VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Unlike most people reviewing this I have never read any of Noel Streatfeild's children's books. I was drawn to the book because the other two Persephone Classics I have read have both been wonderful, and I am pleased to say this did not disappoint at all either. The book charts the effect of WWII on the Wiltshire family, which, when we first meet it on a summer holiday in Eastbourne, consists of four happy children (Laurel, Tony, Kim and Tuesday) with a caring and wise industrialist father (Alex), a charming and beautiful but narcissistic mother (Lena), ably assisted by an loving old nanny, and a perceptive young governess (Miss Glover). The outbreak of war breaks up the family as the children are first sent to stay with Alex's parents, and then later to boarding schools. Unfortunately, the cover of the 2009 edition gives away a key turning point in the plot - I wish I could have read the book without knowing it. This is a book for adults: although it is largely about children, it is not suitable for anyone under about fourteen or fifteen.
Saplings follows the development of all four children, though we perhaps care most about the two eldest, and Laurel in particular, but we also get to know a range of aunts and uncles.
Nobody reading this novel can fail to understand its main lessons: that children need a stable home or base; that adults should not dispose of children without consulting their wishes, or at least explaining to them why they are doing what they are doing. However, "Saplings" is far from being overly didactic: not the least of the pleasures of this superbly insightful novel about children, is that one of the characters is a novelist who is famed for her understanding of children - but who in practice is fairly hopeless with dealing with them.
In short, highly recommended, one of the best books I've read in a long time, and one I shall probably reread sooner rather than later.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book
Loved this book. It is incredibly moving, with very likable characters. You find yourself really rooting for the children. Funny and sad in equal measure.
Published 21 months ago by Mimi
4.0 out of 5 stars "Ballet Shoes" for grown-ups
If you are a fan of Noel Streatfield's stories for children (which I am) then you will enjoy this book (which I did).
Published 22 months ago by allegramente
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving and well written story
I bought this book because Noel Streatfeild was one of my favourite authors as a child. I really enjoyed reading it and found it hard to put down. Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2012 by Lou
5.0 out of 5 stars Please read especially if you have children, grandchildren or even...
I loved this book and wish I'd read it earlier - when my children were around the same age as the four children who are the central characters (about 10-16). Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Saplings
Excellent, ordered and delivered on time.
Disturbing book but well worth the read.
Published on 26 Dec 2009 by A. R. Langellier
5.0 out of 5 stars A family torn apart by war
I really enjoyed this book. Its main theme is the children and how stability is so important to a childs life. Read more
Published on 14 Nov 2009 by Cosmopolitan
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book.
It's only in the past year that I've discovered Noel Streatfeild's adult books and this book and Grass in Picadilly are the best I've read yet. Read more
Published on 20 Aug 2000
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