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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction as cosy as fiction
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...
Published 15 months ago by Meks Librarian

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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 9 months ago by alice


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction as cosy as fiction, 31 Aug 2013
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.

I was reminded of The Lady's Maid, a book I read almost two years ago, but there are differences: "The Lady's Maid" is an autobiography, written by a woman who did not have much formal education, which shows in her writing style. But it also goes much deeper where her feelings and thoughts are concerned, while "Tea by the Nursery Fire" necessarily has to remain on the outside of its main subject for most of the time, and the author was a professional writer.

Speaking of the author, my first surprise was to learn that Noel Streatfeild was a woman. Up until then, I thought that Noel was a male first name, Noelle being the female version. My second surprise was to read (on Wikipedia, where else!) that her books are well known and very popular; I had never heard of her before.

It really was a good read, giving a close-up portrait of "Victorian and Edwardian life above and below stairs", as the short summary on the back says. Children from around 10 years could, I guess, find this just as interesting as an adult reader.
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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
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This review is from: Tea By The Nursery Fire: A Children's Nanny at the Turn of the Century (VMC) (Paperback)
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story of past times, 4 Dec 2012
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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
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of another era., 11 July 2013
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This would make a good film. Descriptive and very intuitive about characters. Details of the age of service very interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book, 28 Mar 2013
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I have been a nanny a great deal of my working life so this was a wonderful glimpse into my career as it would have been in the past. Wonderful descriptions and lovely tale of past tricks of the trade. Rather sad end but showed what love nannies have for their 'changes'. Thank you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wondereful story, 3 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Tea By The Nursery Fire: A Children's Nanny at the Turn of the Century (VMC) (Paperback)
As one interested in Noel Streatfeild's works, was pleased to discover 'Tea by the Nursery Fire.' Warm and cosy as her beloved 'Shoes' books are, this title, based on the reality of her father's nanny; is a fair portrayal of Victorian nursery life and just as interesting and un-put-downable as her 'kid's lit.'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's partly fiction, 4 April 2014
This review is from: Tea By The Nursery Fire: A Children's Nanny at the Turn of the Century (VMC) (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars lovely story, 5 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Tea By The Nursery Fire: A Children's Nanny at the Turn of the Century (VMC) (Paperback)
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 retainer-who made a great impression on them with her kindness, firmness, moral principles and common sense. Nanny appears as a fictional character in some of the "Shoes" books, but this one is about the real person.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, 27 Jan 2014
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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, absolutely fascinating.
However, I was surprised by the quality of the writing, which I thought was rather immature for someone of Noel Streatfeild's experience. An interesting read, though.
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