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Tea By The Nursery Fire: A Children's Nanny at the Turn of the Century (VMC Book 697) [Kindle Edition]

Noel Streatfeild
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
Kindle Price: £4.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Book Description

Emily Huckwell spent almost her entire life working for one family. Born in a tiny Sussex village in the 1870s, she went into domestic service in the Burton household before she was twelve, earning £5 a year. She began as a nursery maid, progressing to under nurse and then head nanny, looking after two generations of children. One of the children in her care was the father of Noel Streatfeild, the author of Ballet Shoes and one of the best-loved children's writers of the 20th century. Basing her story on fact and family legend, Noel Streatfeild here tells Emily's story, and with her characteristic warmth and intimacy creates a fascinating portrait of Victorian and Edwardian life above and below stairs.

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Product Description


"[A] sweet little book."

Book Description

A life in service, from nursery maid to head nanny, in Victorian and Edwardian England.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 667 KB
  • Print Length: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; Reprint edition (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008JLMFH8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #157,300 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction as cosy as fiction 31 Aug. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This little book (218 pages) by Noel Streatfeild (no typo, that really is the spelling) is subtitled "A Children's Nanny at the Turn of the Century". It is non-fiction, but reads as easily and cosily as fiction.

Noel Streatfeild describes the life and times of Emily Huckwell, a Sussex girl born in the 1870s who went to work as a nursery maid when she was not yet twelve years old. Eventually, she was made head nanny to a wealthy family and looked after two generations of their children. One of those children became the father of Noel Streatfeild.
All "her" children loved her very much - which is hardly surprising, seeing how well she treated them and how much time she spent with them, in stark contrast to their own parents, who would see them for one hour between tea and bed time when they were little, and ship them off to boarding schools when they were older - and so Noel was of course introduced to her father's old nanny when she was a little girl.

In those days, people did not question that girls from poor families went into service until they married, and boys worked as farm hands. It was also not questioned that servants were available at all hours and every day; having a week off was all they had in a whole year, and sometimes they did not even take that, if they felt they could not be spared.

The work Emily does, the children and their parents and the other staff at the house are all well described, as are the big houses where she works.
The rhythm of daily life is occasionally interrupted by visits to or from other families, and punctuated by family prayers, meals, lessons and walks.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only for Noel Streatfeild fans 27 Nov. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is Noel Streatfeild's fictionalised biography of "GrandNannie" who appears in her fictionalised autobiographies (A Vicarage Family etc). I enjoyed it because it adds another piece of the jigsaw and helps explain the nanny figures that appear in the majority of her children's books. As with many of Streatfeild's books, the writing is a bit flakey in places, but nonetheless she tells a good story.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story of past times 4 Dec. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love the stories of Noel Streatfeild, and this real life story of a Nanny who worked for her family in earlier times is a fascinating read of what life used to be like for servants.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book 22 Oct. 2013
By Kathy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this. I found it really illuminating about the way wealthy people lived and treated their children in the late Victorian era up to the first world war, in contrast with the poor people also described. Noel Streatfeild always tells her story in an interesting and direct way, and I found much of this very touching.

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes Noel Streatfeild's books. I would say it was aimed at adults, but could be enjoyed by children too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's partly fiction 4 April 2014
I don't think Emily can have been born in the 1870s as Noel's father was born in 1865 and Noel herself in 1895, so she would already have been up and running when Emily is a young woman at the time of the Boer War. I found an Emily Huckwell, born in 1844, on the 1911 census, so if this is the same person her brothers could hardly have been killed in World War One. Also, Noel's father William Streatfeild came from a clerical, not an aristocratic family. So I think that while Emily was certainly a real person this is actually a novel about how the aristocracy treated their servants, and what these servants could expect from life (not very much). And note, too, that Emily's fiance is killed because the Baronet makes him put up a flag for the King's coronation. How relieved I am that we're not living in those 'good old days'! I was fascinated by this book, and by the simple goodness of the central character, and it reminds me that Noel Streatfeild wrote excellent books for adults as well as children.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good picture of life as a nanny 100+ years ago 3 Feb. 2015
By Sue
The book features Emily, who was born in the 19th century into an impoverished home with a large number of siblings. At the age of eleven, she begins in service as assistant to an upper class nursery. She gradually progresses to become a much loved ‘Nannie’ in her teens and through the rest of he life.

While loosely biographical, some of the chronology is incorrect, and many of the people have fictional names. The character of Emily is nicely done, with the majority of the book from her viewpoint. However I was a little disappointed that the writing doesn’t flow as Noel Streatfeild’s other books do; the sentence structure feels stilted in places, with some of the punctuation lacking entirely.

The latter sections of the book are a bit depressing, as Emily loses the opportunity of marriage, and then young men around her go off to the first World War and don’t return. The ending is then rather abrupt. However, I assume that the majority of the narrative is based on factual reminiscences so perhaps the chronological gaps are where little or nothing was recalled.

Still, overall the book paints a good picture of life in the late 19th century and is a useful read from the social history point of view. Certainly worth having for fans of Noel Streatfeild, or for anyone - adult or teen, perhaps even older children - who are interested in this era.

Three and a half stars would be fairer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Its an easy read due to the craft of the author Noel ...
I purchased three of these books,"Tea by the nursery fire".Two for presents and one for my wife and i. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Ron Stanley
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, easy to read, insight into life between the stairs
An interesting (if not particularly well written) book. Gives a good insight into life between the stairs. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good book
Published 6 months ago by marion edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 10 months ago by Angela W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good item, fast delivery, excellent communication, many thanks
Published 10 months ago by Karen Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great read
Published 11 months ago by Mr. R. G. Wilcock
Published 18 months ago by F A EVANS
2.0 out of 5 stars nothing spectacular
I personally didnt enjoy this book at all, it was not gripping or exciting, would definatly not recommend as I found it quite boring.
Published 20 months ago by alice
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely story
Interesting true story by one of my favourite children's authors. Noel Streatfeild and her sisters and brother were sometimes looked after by their father's former nanny -an old... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Bookthrower
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
I bought this because I am a fan of Noel Streatfeild's children's books. I found this story about a nanny and her relationship with her employers and the children she cared for,... Read more
Published 20 months ago by starcat
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