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Saffy's Angel

(Casson Family #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  4,064 ratings  ·  416 reviews

Caddy is the eldest. She's on her ninety-sixth driving lesson and she's mad about her gorgeous instructor.

Indigo is an outrageous cook and survives as the only boy in a pack of girls.

Rose, the youngest, is a whiz at art, and knows just how to manage her parents.

And outsider Saffy - she's simply in search of her angel...

Paperback, 215 pages
Published 2001 by Hodder Children's Books
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Showing 1-30
3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,064 ratings  ·  416 reviews

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Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
Saffy's Angel is poignant and hilarious, and very, very British, and absolutely fabulous. I don't quite know how to recap it without ruining the constant surprise of the humor, but why don't you meet the characters?

Here's Rose:
Rose was still awake, late though it was. She was painting a desert landscape on the white wall of the landing. She had got rid of her father very successfully when he telephoned. Saffron had hardly been mentioned; the discussion had been all about art. The desert landsca
Sherwood Smith
A LiveJournal friend introduced me to the novels of Hilary McKay. They are not fantasies or science fiction, and yet one of their attractions is that peculiar timelessness of certain types of family novels that center around kids, as written by English authors. Well, no, a few Americans have done them, though not many as far as I know. Elizabeth Enright being one. But anyway, they remind me of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle and Antonia Forest's Marlows (note just how much used copies go for! ...more
Melissa McShane
It’s very hard to explain why this book is so beautiful and so moving. I can start with the barest of summaries:
Saffron didn’t know she was adopted until she couldn’t find her name on the paint color chart in the Cassons’ wonderfully disorganized house. Even though Eve and Bill Casson, her aunt and uncle, treat her as one of their own children, Saffy feels left out--until her grandfather’s will reveals a legacy she’d almost forgotten, a stone angel from her old home in Italy.
But this doesn’t beg
Jacob Proffitt
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Saffy's Angel starts off a bit harrowing as the author drives you immediately into the world of a family afflicted with artism and associated dysfunctions. Fortunately, that first scene includes a walk-on by a woman who can be used to represent your every-day sensibilities and if you let her carry your own quibbles and expectations as she leaves, you'll be just fine. If you can't do this, there's no way to enjoy the book so you'd best stop there.

Fortunately for those of us not tied too tightly t
Sep 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful! A touch of "everything old is new again" here. As comforting and nostalgic as warm rice pudding. The narrator's tone and the characters' language made me often feel I was reading the sort of books I read as a child (translation: books at least 25+ years old). And yet, convincingly contemporary, in particular with wry humor and unidealized characters. The author's affection for all her characters, much as she laughs at them, is one of the book's principal charms. I'm in search of the ...more
Sep 28, 2009 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I just LOVE Hilary McKay. I have read Saffy's Angel several times now and it STILL makes me laugh out loud again and again--even when I know what's coming.

The scene where the Casson kids drive to Wales--that's just got to be the funniest scene in a hundred years of writing for children. It's just genius. I also found myself really enjoying the excavation of the house.

I say again: If more contemporary children's writers wrote like THIS, I would not be so bitter and twisted. I wish I wrote like th
May 26, 2012 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Sara by: Elizabeth
I wrote a critical essay for school on this, and it was labelled (by the teacher who hasn't read it) as "girly teen fiction", because it is not about war or best friends killing each other (although there are deaths, and best friends). Fiction? Yes. Teen? Maybe, although there is a massive variety of ages that enjoy this book. Girly? No. My brother enjoys this book. He doesn't like reading, but still he is working on getting through the rest of the series.
Maybe people on Goodreads will apprciate
Rachel Brown
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s, england
Lovely British children's book about a family of eccentrics. The mom is an absent-minded painter who named her children after paint colors, the hilariously insensitive father is nearly entirely absent, and the four kids are up to assorted hijinks involving keeping hamsters in pockets, stowing away to Italy, and searching for Saffron's inheritance, a missing stone angel.

A plot description doesn't do it justice. McKay is one of those writers (mostly British, in my experience) who writes short, see
Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed my evenings with this book. Fun voice. Delightful,charming child characters immersed in the kind of loyal, loving, sibling relationships that any good parent would be proud of, but seemingly caused by that exact deprivation. Completely disfunctional parents, the mother of whom I felt sorry for and the self absorbed,clueless father, whom annoyed me to distraction. A quick read, not something that leaves you with any profound, lingering thoughts but with a smile just the same. I was engage ...more
Mireille Duval
To be quite honest, the overwhelming twee at the beginning put me out. I could deal with the kids being twee, because they are kids, but the parenting in this book really annoyed me throughout, and even, in Bill's case, super enraged me. (I think as a kid I would have found Eve's behavior cool, or whatever, but as a parent myself, oh boy, I had Thoughts.)

I got into the story for Caddy and Michael, though - all conversations very well-rendered in audio form, "MICHAEL, DARLING!" "Don't call me dar
Oct 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
My daughters loved this book but I couldn't get over the father- who treated his wife with such condescension and belittled her art while escaping to the city so he can play the big artist. Also, I have a thing about stories about overly flaky artists. I don't like it. I find it annoying and propagates this myth that people who do art necessarily have to be flighty instead of hard-working, hard-thinking individuals who know how to pay bills and feed their children.

Having said these very personal
BEST FAMILY EVER. Droopy Di. Michael the driving instructor. Sarah and her wheelchair and her parents in France! The siblings. The color chart that started it all.

“She had to go,” said Rose.
“It was because of her angel,” said Indigo.
“And because of Granddad,” added Caddy.
“And because of her nose stud.”
“And because her name isn’t on the color chart.”
“She’s lonely,” said Rose. “That’s why.”

Reviewed more in depth here at the YA/MG book battle. I plan on reading the rest of the books in this series
Jul 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Faith by: the MOLDy bloggers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was CHARMING. It reminded me of the older children's books I read as a kid. I laughed my way through the last few chapters and the ending was WONDERFUL.

(view spoiler)
Laura Tink
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. From the cover it originally seems like a girly teen book but I actually found it very moving at times. I also loved that every character has their own story which adds to the whole plot.
Ohhhh. That was far less sweet, and far more wonderful, than I was expecting. How did it take me so long to finally read this?
Jemma Routledge
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by a friend. It was one of those moments when I judged a book by the cover. However my judgement was wrong. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brit-lit
Reminded me quite a bit of the Penderwick books, but of course British and not quite so modern. Very similar feel, though, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series (like with the Penderwick books, I suspect the youngest girl will be my favourite).
Brittany Garduno
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a family and their respective lives. Also when Saffy discovered quite by accident that she has been adopted as she is deeply upset though the other assured her that it makes no difference at all. Saffy is the daughter of Eve twin sister who lived in Sienna Italy and died in a car crash. Grand dad Taffy as a very small child back from Sienma. Granddad's death he leave something to each of the children. To saffy it is "her angel" although no one knows its identity. How Saffy dis ...more
Kaethe Douglas
September 11, 2010

Based on the covers of any of these editions you'd be forgiven for mistaking the title for "Sappy's Angel". They're all rather precious. The title itself was a bit off-putting for me: I was afraid it was going to being something cloyingly religious, with perhaps, a good lesson about character through suffering. Not hardly.

Thankfully, the book it most reminds me of is The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.* Both are stories abou
Meet the Cassons—Saffy’s very eccentric, tight-knit family that includes an older sister who can’t drive a lick despite 99 lessons from a cute instructor; a brother who tries to overcome his many fears through unconventional means; a baby sister who is a small force to be reckoned with; a distant dad who spends most of the time working in his London studio; and a ditzy mom who works on her art in a shed at the family’s home outside the city. All of the Casson children—Cadmium, Indigo, and Rose—a ...more
Brandy Painter
Review originally poster here.

Could I live in the Casson house? Absolutely not. Could I enjoy an extended stay? Absolutely not. Would I enjoy an afternoon visit? Maybe. Visiting them through the pages of their story is my ideal. That way I am not literally experiencing the mess or chaos.

Saffy and the search for her angel are certainly the core of the book but the heart of the story is all the Casson children. Saffy is distant and temperamental but obviously loves her quirky siblings very much. C
Natasha Martinez
My copy of Saffy's Angel has been read through so many times that by now, the spine has become floppy and the corners are well-worn and curling upward. It's difficult to say why exactly I love this book. It could be the charming Casson family and their outrageous friends who seem both realistic and yet too good to be true. It might be Mckay's simplistic writing style which is neither too formal or too "easy".

But mostly, what I think does it for me is Mckay's vivid imagery. Anyone can write a st
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, to-buy
The writing, oh gosh, the writing. I usually have to detach my feelings about the writing when reviewing a book because I am so critical towards it and focus on the story alone, but McKay's prose and stylistic narration is some of the best I have read, for a middle-grade borderline YA novel no less! The mystery surrounding Saffy's inheritance and her past kept me invested as a teenager and it continues to do so in my early twenties. But the mystery is not what drew me to the book years ago and i ...more
If you haven't met Hilary McKay's enchanting Casson family, then make sure you remedy this omission! Their parents are painters- Bill, their father is a successful and acclaimed artist, living and working in London; Eve, their mother, make ends meet by painting popular subjects and teaching art classes. The children- Caddy, Indigo, Saffron and Rose- get by as best they can in their loving but slightly chaotic home.

Saffron is the focus of this book. She discovers at the age of 8 that she is the a
Merrie Haskell
I'm really amazed that there's something out there that captures the spirit of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle plus all those interlaced family novels I read as a kid (though I'm blanking on any titles, but I guess somewhere between All of a Kind Family and Little Women), and doesn't sacrifice the modern world. There are mobile phones! It's not trapped in some ridiculous past masquerading as the present--it is thoroughly the present. But it has a pleasant sensibility of another time.

The Casso
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with Saffy's delightful, goofy family. I hope there are more books about them. It's a book positively infused with gentleness, a bemused goodwill, and love. So much love on every page. No surprises, no tears. I left it in the observation car on the train and was happy to see a young girl engrossed in it the very next day. A sheer delight.
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, kids
What a perfectly delightful book. I'm totally hooked on the Casson family now and so glad to see there are more books about them! I laughed so hard while I read this-the characters are irresistible. Reading about this sweet, eccentric English family was a real treat.
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jfic, humor
re-read it and it seemed a little slow in the beginning, but then became so charming that it was every bit as good as I remembered.
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Hilary McKay was born in Boston, Lincolnshire and is the eldest of four girls. From a very early age she read voraciously and grew up in a household of readers. Hilary says of herself as a child "I anaesthetised myself against the big bad world with large doses of literature. The local library was as familiar to me as my own home."

After reading Botany and Zoology at St. Andrew's University Hilary

Other books in the series

Casson Family (6 books)
  • Caddy's World (Casson Family, #0)
  • Indigo's Star (Casson Family, #2)
  • Permanent Rose (Casson Family, #3)
  • Caddy Ever After (Casson Family, #4)
  • Forever Rose (Casson Family, #5)
“Don't call me darling. I'm a driving instructor!” 55 likes
“I can only drive slowly."
"That's all right."
"And I can only do left turns."
Rose ran downstairs, grabbed a road atlas, and ran triumphantly back up again. "Wales is left! Look! It's left all the way!”
More quotes…