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National Velvet (Charming Classics S.) Paperback – 1 Jun 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperFestival; Reprint edition (Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0694015792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0694015795
  • Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 12.8 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,068,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"A story which is at once breathlessly exciting and a delightful character study." ---"London Times"Put on your not-to-be-missed list." ---"The New Yorker"Some books are to be gobbled at a sitting. This is one." ---"Atlantic"The book is one that horse lovers of every age cannot fail to enjoy." ---"The New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The book that inspired the classic film starring Elizabeth Taylor, National Velvet is a true classic. Alongside Black Beauty and My Friend Flicka it is one of the great horse books for children. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book arrived quickly and well packaged. I remember loving this book as a child. It was being serialised on the radio and I happened to catch an episode on my way home. As soon as I got in I went on line and ordered the book. It's a lovely, lovely book. Great for children and adults alike.
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Loved it
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Format: Paperback
National Velvet is a book about those who dream; and for those who dream "great, galloping passion(s)" as one critic has described it. Many people will be able to relate to young Velvet Brown, a dreamer of a child who wears braces on her teeth. She cuts pictures of racehorses from newspapers to create her own stable of imaginary horses. Her creative mind makes them live for her - and the reader - as she holds them in front of her as she gallops along the Downs, and polishes them until their paper bodies take on the sheen of real horse coats. The reality is that she lives in an ordinary, working family whose members have nevertheless dared to dream big, passionate dreams. The author is able to play with, and blend, reality and fantasy in a truly magical way to make the so called "ordinary" quite extraordinary. The curious coincidences in the book - Velvet dreaming so hard to get a horse that she ends up with several, for instance - are simply what happens if people have big enough dreams, if they believe in them totally and devote themselves to their quest. That's one of the messages of the book. But dreamers need people who are grounded in reality; and It's Mi, the former stable lad, who provides the practical knowledge to support Velvet in her aim to ride in Britain's most famous race, the Grand National.

Reading Enid Bagnold's work makes connections with other authors. I've always found the book reminiscent of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy, with its odd yet functioning family. Velvet's mother, like Gertrude Groan, looms monstrously but lovingly in the background. In the place of Gertrude's cats and birds, we have Velvet's sister and her canaries: the little birds are kept in cages and represent the dreams of the family at night in a way that reminds me of Under Milk Wood.
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Format: Paperback
If you haven't read this classic horsey tale by Enid Bagnold, you must MUST read it. Even if you are not a fan of "horsey" tales, it is the classic story of the underdog who comes good and is just so beautifully written. The story is, of course, very well-known - of the outsider and the undersized girl who go on to achieve fame and fortune in the Grand National (and at a time when female jockeys were not allowed in the race); and you are probably already familiar with the story. What you won't know if you haven't read the book, is just how well Bagnold brings Velvet and her oversized mother (who once won a lot of gold for swimming the channel), her horse-mad sisters and her unruly baby brother, her diminutive father and Mi, the son of Mrs Brown's channel swimming trainer, and the man who goes on to train Velvet and the Pie to win the race, to life. The atmosphere in the Brown home is palpable, it is so realistically drawn. The heat from the stove and the kitchen cooking smells almost leap out of the pages to greet you. And then there are the horses - the five horses which Velvet inherits and the Pie himself. This is a story of courage and above all, heart - of reaching inside yourself and achieving something when everybody else says you can't do it. It is the ultimate tale of the underdog coming good. It will leave you with goosebumps, the story is so triumphant.

Along with the tale of the underdog, there's a lot going on in this book - there's the portrayal of England in 1930s Britain, the rural countryside and the beautiful backdrop of those chalk white cliffs which epitomise England so much. Indeed, one can almost see the embodiment of England in the Pie himself (with his black and white patches) - or so I once argued in a University essay (and there's must have been something in it, I got a decent mark, I seem to recall...)
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By A Customer on 9 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
i thouroughly enjoyed this book, as i am too a young rider. It describes the feelings of competing that i know, only too well. When you read this book, its like totally imersing yourself into the horse world, and if you have never experienced that, it is quite a feeling. i strongly recommend it to all people and especially those that either know horses, or like them and what to find out more about them.
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This is a really lovely book. Despite being written in the early part of the twentieth century, it has a very modern feel and believable, individual characters. Particularly suited to girls, due to the horse theme and excellent, liberal mother of the family. A really good character study with a wild, adventurous concept that will enthrall readers of all ages.
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By Clare O'Beara TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 July 2012
Format: Paperback
This is very dated now but was once obligatory reading for horse-mad girls, if only because there wasn't a lot of other such books. Then Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney and Donald Crisp made the film and it took off big-time.
Velvet Brown lives in a small English town with four sisters and a little brother, Donald. He's a right pain and the older girls are all concerned about nail polish, hair dos and boyfriends. Velvet however wants a horse. There is a lot of social comment and discussion which gets in the way of the horse story and can make it tedious especially for younger readers.

Velvet gets her wish when a half-broken piebald horse is sold to her cheaply; in the film it's a bright bay. She names him The Pie and with the help of a wandering young stable worker who spots the horse's potential she trains him up for steeplechasing. Her mother once swum the English Channel and was rewarded with gold sovereigns, which she now uses as a race entry fee for Velvet and The Pie in the Grand National. Perhaps Mrs Brown didn't like Velvet very much, given that this was the most dangerous race in Britain at the time, with severe obstacles which have now been reduced because so many horses were killed. Another snag is that The Pie was not a Thoroughbred and has never raced. Enid Bagnold the author says that "for all I can find a donkey could have entered at that time, provided he was the right age." And a third snag is that girls were not allowed to be jockeys. So Velvet has to pretend to be a foreign boy jockey who doesn't speak English or much of anything. Altogether it has been described as a farce by racehorse trainers.
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