Beth Bonini's Reviews > National Velvet

National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
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Jun 19, 12

bookshelves: children-s-book-club
Read in May, 2012

Not long ago, I read Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons -- written in the 1930s and set in rural England, just like this novel. There was an illuminating introduction to that book, in which the editor explained how Gibbons was parodying a writing style and subject matter popular in that era. (If you've read any D.H. Lawrence you will have a feeling for what I'm referring to: the inarticulate but powerful Nature of women and that sort of thing.) I couldn't help think of that essay when I read this book. It is an exceedingly strange book in some ways, and not really meant for children. (You could probably give it to an eccentric 12 year old who is a sophisticated reader.) Nor it is really about horses, although the dramatic climax of the book has 14 year old Velvet (disguised as a boy) winning the Grand National on an appallingly muddy and foggy course. Really, the book is about family -- and about will and desire.

If you can succumb to the peculiar charms of the writing style, you might well enjoy this book . . . but don't buy it for your pony-mad little girl.
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Kate Mitchel I was a pony mad little girl and read National Velvet so many times as a child my original copy had to be put out to pasture...


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