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Saplings by [Streatfeild, Noel]
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Saplings Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Length: 384 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product description

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.'

About the Author

Noel Streatfeild, born 1895, was one of the daughters of the Bishop of Lewes and a great-granddaughter of the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. She was unmarried and led a busy London literary life and had written over eighty books by the time of her death in 1986. Jeremy Holmes is a noted psychiatrist and psychotherapist with an international reputation.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1027 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (14 Dec. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MHO8ZS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #233,463 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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). I don't know how she does it but Noel Streatfeild perfectly describes the confusion, insecurity, isolation and (sometimes self-imposed) loneliness of childhood and how the nurture of adults can ensure that the angst of childhood is minimised but sadly can't be totally eradicated.

Communication seems to be a central theme and the value of stable family life comes a close second. Strangely I see glimmers of "About a Boy" by Nick Hornby and the need for Marcus to make more links with friends and family in order to have a sufficiently wide "support network". The same is very true for NS's children (while Lena the immature mother is very like Will, the immature man in "About a Boy") and the numerous adults in their lives are all necessary in their own way.

I'd read this book again and I'm going to read more of NS's work on the strength of this book. As a mother, I loved it but it can be read by anyone as there's a universal message of the importance of nurturing children, whether they're your own children, grandchildren, nieces/nephews or the children of friends and acquaintances, and it's all backed up by a really good, well crafted narrative.
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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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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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Format: Paperback
Dire moralistic twaddle.....it is not really appropriate to describe Jeremy Holmes as one of the authors - Noel wrote under her own name and independently. She cam from a priviledge background so it is admirable that she tried to take on a subject such as in Saplings even if not entirely successfully But is is tedious to read such stilted language and annoyingly moralistic. Books can be resurrected and become a cult which has happened here. It is all too obvious that families have an influence on resilience but the claims that children will thrive in the aftermath of atrocities if from loving backgrounds has yet to be proven - frankly many don't .many won't . Jeremy Holmes' father Robin Holmes actually compered a R3 series on Parents and Children in the late 1950's - two included discussions with Noel Streatfield on suitable books for children. It is interesting that Jeremy is passionately promoting Attachment Theory these days ie the effect of parent/caring on children. Sadly there are no recordings of the Parents and Children series
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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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