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The Bell Family
Noel Streatfeild
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The Bell Family (Bell Family #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  350 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Published 2008 (first published 1954)
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Aug 31, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has one of the most Streatfeild openings ever written:
The Thames is a very twisting sort of river. It is as if it had to force its way into London, and had become bent in the process. First there is a big bend to the right, then a little one to the left, then a great bulge to the right, followed immediately by a smaller bulge to the left. In that smaller bulge to the left is the part of southeast London in which the Bells lived.
And the entire book is that Streatfeild-y, too. It's a little
Mar 30, 2017 Kirsty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Number 87 on my Classics Club list, The Bell Family by Noel Streatfeild was first published in 1954. As I so adored Ballet Shoes when I read it for the first time a couple of years ago, I had very high hopes for Streatfeild’s other works. The Bell Family has recently been reissued by Vintage Children’s Classics, with a darling cover designed by Alice Tait, and I was able to borrow a copy from my local library.

The novel follows, as the title suggests, the Bell family, who are carrying out their ‘
This version is a reprint in the Vintage Children's Classics series and it's interesting to see what the editors have decided need to be explained for twenty-first century children in the additions at the end of the book: 'Make do and mend...'; words like 'ermine', 'perambulator' and 'verger'. There's a brief biography of Noel Streatfeild, an explanation of the background to the book (it was originally a radio serial) and a couple of quizzes. There is also, for no reason that I can discern, a 'W ...more
Mazzou B
Cute story. Good for younger readers.
This was fun! Jolly good fun, I'm almost tempted to say.

All in all, "The Bell Family" is a typical, old-fashioned children's story. Streatfeild tells the tale of a very charming, loud and noisy family and their everyday struggles and adventures. The Bell family is not exactly poor - they do not starve and they live in a very comfortable house. However they cannot afford the small luxuries in life. The eldest daughter Jane is pining for dance lessons, the youngest daughter Ginnie has a desperate
Parsley Spasbinder
I am a big fan of Streatfeild but this family had no redeeming features. Very saccharine writing. Ghastly...
Katey Lovell
Jun 13, 2014 Katey Lovell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a child I loved Noel Streatfeild's most famous work Ballet Shoes. I had dreams of being a ballerina (which were never to materialise, although I did do a few dance exams) which were pretty much exclusively because of that book. Yet for some reason I never read any more of Streatfeild's books, until now.

Vintage Classics published this edition of The Bell Family this spring. Originally a radio series in the 1950s, the Bell's are a typical post-war family struggling to make ends meet. They have
Apr 14, 2015 Daylight rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been indulging in nostalgia rereading my Noel Streatfeild books that my mother read to me when I was very young and then sat on my bookshelf for decades. There is something wonderfully sweet, comfortable, and innocent about these books and they remind me of my childhood (Though it was nothing like is described in the books. I just read a lot of these sort of books when I was a kid) but I can't say much good about the actual writing. She uses almost all the same characters just with differen ...more
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 w
Jan 16, 2016 Toni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre, read-in-2015
Noel Streatfield is always good for a bit of comfort reading and escapism, but for me this book didn't come close to Ballet Shoes or White Boots. She does tend to recycle her characters from book to book, and I didn't find a single character here who wasn't instantly recognisable from at least one other Streatfield. It was also very episodic - probably not a surprise as I think the book came after the radio series of the same name - but I never really felt I could get into the story the way I wa ...more
The four star review must be entirely without reference to any other work besides others by the same author! I've read this so many times since I was child; I'm completely incapable of giving it an unbiased rating. Yes, Streatfeild's stories are very similar, as are her characters. I suppose the cozy tone may grate on the nerves. But I've always loved how the author made her adults point-of-view characters alongside the children, and even referred to them by first name. The children's career asp ...more
Aishika Mitra
Apr 06, 2015 Aishika Mitra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a nice book. A very fast paced book. We get to know about the poorer side of London and how hard it can be to manage a family and still be happy when you can break at any point. We get many colourful characters which are very different from each other. Along the read you feel happy and sad with the ongoing events. It will a really nice read for a kid thought they may find it not to relevant because of their fast life. A nice read to start the year.
The edition by Vintage is really good an
Robin Stevens
Apr 01, 2014 Robin Stevens rated it really liked it
Utterly adorable. It's incredibly dated, of course, but that in no way diminishes its appeal.

It's always a good sign when I think to myself 'if X or Y does not happen to a character I am LITERALLY (not literally) going to SET MYSELF ON FIRE'. While I was reading this book I knew with utter certainty that if Jane didn't get to go to ballet school or Paul gave up his dream of becoming a doctor I was going to LITERALLY (not literally) SET MYSELF ON FIRE. Good thing everything always turns out OK i
Feb 25, 2008 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Noel Straetfeild fans...
I liked this one quite a bit...not as much as "Ballet Shoes", but quite alot. :) Though, I have to say, I didn't care for Ginnie, the 2nd girl. I normally like the high-spirited children, who do get into trouble. They seem more realistic to me. But Ginnie went beyond. She was a perfect brat, in my opinion. Not at all sorry when she did wrong, and even thinking she was in the right, and she was being treated unfairly. Made me want to give her a good long shake. lol. But Jane I did love. :)
Katherine Scott
Feb 01, 2016 Katherine Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slightly different than most of Noel Streatfeild's books for children. This family actually has both parents living at home with them and the entire family is not caught up in the entertainment industry. But a lot of the other familial Streatfeild theme's are there: dealing with poverty, children trying to help out their family by earning money, secrets or half-truths causing havoc and misunderstandings. Another solid Streatfeild story to share with my daughter.
Jane Irish Nelson
Nice story covering about two years in the lives of the Bell family of London. The father, Alex, is a minister, while his wife, Cathy, takes care of everyone. Paul, the oldest, wants to be a doctor like his Uncle Jim, Jane wants to dance, and so does the youngest, Angus, once he sees a ballet! Ginny frequently finds herself in trouble, due to her "'satiable curiosity" along with her desire to help out. Very enjoyable.
This was enjoyable for all the usual reasons in a Streatfeild novel. Perhaps the only shock was the Sister Who Dances did not force her way into an audition, as so many other characters have done. It's nice to read a book without a major issue. The story unfolds chapter after chapter about the family, and nothing traumatic happens and the Bells are kind and pleasant people. The End.
Dec 29, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always loved Noel Streatfeild's books and as a child I got my library to ILL them for me or hunted through second hand book stores to find all of them. She tells the perfect "girls stories". I was always able to find one character in each book that was my favorite. They definitely stand up to re-reads.
Mar 05, 2011 Fi rated it really liked it
The Bell Family were far posher than our family; I was fascinated at the thought of having a maid, and didn't have a clue what brawn was - but I enjoyed the book so much that I read it umpteen times.
May 12, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical of Streatfeild, the roles of good and evil are clearly defined. The minister's family featured here are strapped for cash and the children are impossibly angelic. Nonetheless, it was an absorbing read.
Jul 24, 2014 Stuart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
quite pleasant. a rose tinted view of an English parish family and their community. Very proper & twee. the narrative tends to overlap without proper pauses. a very sweet keep calm and carry on tale of happily ever after!
Maureen E
Unfortunately, nowhere near as charming as her more well known books. One of the characters drove me up a wall–and I think I was supposed to be sympathetic to her. [Feb. 2010]
Tina Wilson
May 27, 2016 Tina Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this one aloud with Brooke. Definitely a slow read as it is character driven rather than plot driven. We enjoyed spending time with the family in the book.
Kbeans rated it it was amazing
Apr 04, 2012
Hanna rated it liked it
Jul 06, 2007
Anindita Satpathi
It's quite a delightful story, one I would have adored in its entirety if I was younger. It's not as lovely as Ballet Shoes though it's refreshing to find characters who are well-fleshed out stereotypes.
Ruth E. R.
That friend of mine gave this to me for my birthday, probably my 13th.
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Aug 26, 2007
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Sep 11, 2007
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Darren L. rated it did not like it
Sep 27, 2007
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Mary Noel Streatfeild, known as Noel Streatfeild, was an author best known and loved for her children's books, including Ballet Shoes and Circus Shoes. She was born on Christmas Eve, 1895, the daughter of William Champion Streatfeild and Janet Venn and the second of six children to be born to the couple. Sister Ruth was the oldest, after Noel came Barbara, William ('Bill'), Joyce (who died of TB p ...more
More about Noel Streatfeild...

Other Books in the Series

Bell Family (2 books)
  • New Shoes (Shoes, #10)

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