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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
25
4.6 out of 5 stars


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on 25 May 2015
I love Noel Streatfield's work and first read it in the 60s as a child. This incorporates all the traditional Streatfield values, trying hard, caring for others, good manners, determination, independent thinking and family togetherness. As always one child is the awkward troublesome one who drives much of the narrative and poverty is central to the family's trials and tribulations. I loved it. There is something very reassuring about her work and she creates the post war period most effectively. I didn't give it five stars because it does feel derivative of The Painted Garden and The Vicarage Children in particular.
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on 10 January 2008
I first read The Bell Family when I was about 10, and have read it many times since, including to my two boys, who also loved it. It is a lovely story of a London Vicar, his wife, three delightful children, and Esau the dog. The characters are all very loveable and touching, especially Ginny, the middle child, who is a little plumper and plainer than the others. I thoroughly recommend it to children of all ages (8 to 80)
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on 12 June 2014
It's always nice to acquire and read another Noel Streatfeild, and this is a nice edition with a brief biography and glossary in the back, intended for modern children who don't know much about the 1950s. This particular novel is a little unusual in that it started out as a series of radio plays.

It features the Bell family, who bear several striking resemblances to the author's own family, as portrayed in her autobiography 'The Vicarage Family'. As ever, there are some talented children: Paul who is highly academic and want to be a doctor, Jane who loves ballet, and Angus who sings well enough to have a place at a choir school but really doesn't want to sing. And then there's Ginnie, who is probably the one closest to Noel Streatfeild in character - kind-hearted but impulsive, bright but rebellious.

The book is a series of incidents through the year, showing the family contrasted with their rich and materialistic relatives, covering day-to-day problems and stresses, and seeing the children make some important decisions. It's far from the best of Noel Streatfeild's work, but it's very readable and I'm pleased to have this in my collection at last.
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on 20 April 2010
A great book about the fun family of a hard-up vicar living in London. Interesting well-drawn characters, even subsidiary ones, and a familiar plot based around how the family can manage to afford various things they need. I am guessing that Miss Virginia Bell, the imaginative, gawky, devious and truculent sister, is partly based on Noel Streatfeild herself, as other Streatfeild characters such as Rachel or Nicky seem to be. There is a sequel to this book, called New Town. Also a great book, but hard to find.
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on 17 March 2015
I read this with enormous enjoyment. I have read and loved Ballet Shoes, The Painted Garden and other titles but I had never come across this nor did I know the history(originally broadcast in weekly episodes on the radio) Some sections are moving, others really funny. The difficulties of bringing up 4 children on a vicar's stipend are made very clear and should make us wince. This is a loving family and I said Goodbye to them with regret and affection. I'm sure I will reread it.
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on 29 November 2015
I just remember the Bell family on the radio but I didn't know there was a book and I really enjoyed this. Of course it's written for children but at 80 I found it a very pleasant read - especially the references to the costs of things and also the extra information about why the Bell family were poor but still had help in the house etc =
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on 24 March 2014
Still my favourite Noel Streatfield. Brought back memories of Children's Hour and post-war struggles. I more children will enjoy her work.
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on 22 August 2015
the whole family thoroughly enjoyed this story, we'll be reading more Noel Streatfield
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on 16 January 2015
interesting links with the semi-autobiographical A Vicarage Family
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on 11 August 2015
Having read about this in various histories of BBC radio's Children's Hour, I thought I'd take the plunge. Un-surprisingly I never read this as a child, as Streatfeild was a no go area for a boy growing up in the 1970s!
I really enjoyed this. All the characters are well written, and the plot moves on at a good pace. The episodic nature of the original radio scripts still shines through, but that is not a bad thing.

I hope something remains in the BBC archives of the original radio series, especially Joan Hickson's legendary Mrs Gage.
Streatfeild wrote a book sequel "New Town" which it would be nice to see reprinted.
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