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Saplings [Kindle Edition]

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

Print List Price: $19.95
Kindle Price: $9.98
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Book Description

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 understood that ‘the psychological consequences of separating children from their parents was glossed over in the rush to ensure their physical survival... It is fascinating to watch Streatfeild casually and intuitively anticipate many of the findings of developmental psychology over the past fifty years.’ ‘A study of the disintegration of a middle-class family during the turmoil of the Second World War, and quite shocking’ wrote Sarah Waters in the Guardian. Saplings was a ten-part serial on BBC Radio 4 in 2004.

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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

  • File Size: 980 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (December 14, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MHO8ZS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #533,106 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
In this adult novel by the well-known author of Ballet Shoes, Streatfeild follows a happy middle-class British family into World War II and the evacuations of children from London during the bombings. As with her children's novels, her portrayal of how children think and feel is excellent. Her feel for the adults is rather less so, though it's very interesting to see an author much better known as a children's author dealing with more adult subjects, which Streatfeild tackles with her trademark directness. Although her handling of the adult characters is sometimes awkward, the book is very much worth reading for its excellent treatment of the often devastating psychological effects of the war.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar January 2, 2010
Format:Paperback
Noel Streatfeild is better known for her children's books, particularly the Shoe books, but she also wrote novels for adults, especially one about children for adults, Saplings. In it, the children in question are the Wiltshires, Laurel, Tony, Kim, and Tueday. The novel opens with an idyllic seaside holiday trip that quickly becomes overshadowed by the war, which over the course of the novel will have a strong effect on all of the Wiltshire family, adults and children alike.

It's been a long time since I've read any of the Shoe books, but I do remember, and what is apparent here, is that Streatfeild excels at writing from the perspective of children and adolescents (though of course here the subject matter is a lot darker). The war has a mostly adverse effect on the Wiltshire children, and the author captures brilliantly the uncertainty and danger of both the war and of growing up--which in and of itself can be a bit like the war at times!

The novel was published in 1945, and this story of the dissolution of a family must have been a bit more shocking back then--even though from a more modern perspective, it's quite devastating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected rewards July 9, 2012
By Deb Bat
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel was unexpectedly surprising. The characters had depth, and Streatfield captures war time Britain with accuracy. It was an engaging read and I could not put it down.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Streatfeild for Grownups April 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you choose "Saplings" thinking you're going to find a cozy, adult version of "Ballet Shoes", you are doomed to disappointment."Saplings", while it displays Streatfeild's usual remarkable ability to depict her characters from several points of view, including their own, is definitely "R" rated. In investigating the chaos that occurs in a pleasant, upper middle class family during and in the wake of WWII, Streatfeild spares no one, particularly the complacent,the self-righteous, and the disastrously well-intentioned who are too "busy", or too preoccupied with their own affairs, to exercise damage control, especially in the lives of children. Although characters' attitudes and situations may seem at first a little dated, and some plot transitions are abrupt to the point of fuzziness, the driving force of the novel and its message are crystal clear and dateless.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A simple story, well told. August 9, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read most of Noel Streatfeild's books for young people, but was unaware that she'd written adult books as well. Saplings is a very touching story of children whose lives are irrevocably changed by war and how they cope (or not). The writing was much like that of the children's books, simple and appealing, and a little superficial I thought. Enjoyable but not striking.
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