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The Whicharts

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  16 reviews
She never doubted for one moment that once she had the necessary training she would find the work. She knew with her whole being that she was a born mechanic. In what way she would have a chance to prove this she didn’t know, but her prayers always finished: “And oh God, if possible, let me fly".

1920s London: three adopted sisters train for the stage and support the house
Paperback, New unabridged edition, 256 pages
Published February 24th 2010 by Margin Notes Books (first published 1931)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  82 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Jo Walton

This is the non-PG version of Ballet Shoes. So there's a guardian and a nannie and three children living in a house in London, and a theatrical school, and dancing, and stage-work, and the middle sister loves engines. But... the guardian was the mistress of the father of all three girls, though they all had different mothers who were all later mistresses, and the oldest sister becomes a tart. It's not that these things shock me in normal books, but they feel very odd indeed here, in what is
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The most important thing to know about this 1931 novel (Noel Streatfeild's first published book) is that it is Ballet Shoes for adults. This story of three disparate sisters struggling to create careers for themselves on the stage in 1930's London was not a particularly successful debut for Streatfeild; on publication, it faded into obscurity almost at once. Five years later, when she rewrote it as a children's book, the story was a huge hit and has never been out of print. As a longtime fan of ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
For my full review:

This book is a true literary oddity. Published in 1931 as an adult novel, its author was advised to redraft it into a format suitable for children. Streatfeild did so and the result was Ballet Shoes which became a classic and has never been out of print. Very much the Go Set A Watchman to Shoes' To Kill A Mockingbird, the original The Whicharts faded into oblivion. Until it recently resurfaced in ebook form, I had accepted that I would
Cleopatra  Pullen
I loved Noel Streatfeild’s first children’s book Ballet Shoes , a book that was re-read more times than I can recall throughout my childhood, so when I realised that this book was actually based on the author’s first attempt at an adult novel, The Whicharts, I knew I had to read this. Then as is so often the way it sat hidden away on my bookshelf, unopened, until now.

Reading The Whicharts is an odd experience with echoes of Ballet Shoes never far away and so it became a little like a game of spo
Nicola Mansfield
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Reason for Reading: I love Noel Streatfeild and had never read an "adult" book by her. Knowing this was her first book was also tantalizing.

Streatfeild's first book is full of themes that she will go on to explore in many of her children's book over and over again. This is the first time this book has been in print since the 1930s and what a treat for it to be back in the light of day again. Set in the 1920s, this is the story of three adopted sisters who take to the stage to bring money into th
The Library Lady
May 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Generally most writers of children's fiction are not terribly good at writing adult fiction.
The unusual thing here is that Noel Streatfeild started off writing this book, and then turned it into one of the immortal works of children's literature,Ballet Shoes And while it's fascinating to see the skeleton of that book in this one, it's not a book that stands well on its own. Maisie, Tanya and Daisy are much less developed characters than Pauline, Petrova and Posy. Moreover, none of them is terri
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
The title of this book gave no clue as to its content; imagine then my surprise when I discovered it to be an adult version of Ballet Shoes with all the fun and detail removed. I for one am glad that someone recommended she rewrite it; as it stands, this book is superficial and dull. Nothing much about learning to dance (except that Tania hates it and Daisy is good at it); nothing much about the girls' growing up years, nothing much at all until the last quarter of the book. The pages seem to be ...more
Farah Mendlesohn
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Do you know, I might actually prefer this to Ballet Shoes! Petrova/Tania is so very much more central to the story and despite some of the write ups here, she gets the ending with all the potential, whereas in Ballet Shoes she’s very much pushed off to one side.
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Scandalous! Romantic! Fabulous! Theatrical! A stunning debut! Ballet shoes from the first page! Though strictly come reading for adults. Entranced from the start. I'm hooked. I love books of the British, by the British (London, Nursery's, Cockney accent, class romance, snobbery, manners, 'pencil lead rain', the wartime spirit, tea time) The perfect Blighty book. To be read in a cozy fireside chair with a cup of tea on a rainy Sunday. Rule Streatfeild! Rule Britainia! ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it liked it
For someone as familiar with Ballet Shoes as I am, a bizarre book - definite case of auto-plaigerism as it follows that book with just enough twists and underlying adult themes (and yet such innocence, as it was written in the 1930s). Although to be fair I think this book was written before Ballet Shoes.
Morag Gray
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Ballet Shoes" with all the sordid bits left in. Definitely for adults, and although it is an easy read, has some pertinent observations about the plight of women and girls without private incomes in the years between the wars. ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: noel-streatfeild
Fascinating as an early version of Ballet Shoes, but not particularly brilliant as a novel. Streatfeild was definitely a better writer for children than for adults.
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Weirdly adult version of Ballet Shoes, seedier & racier.
Jessica Gilmore
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is going to chock full of spoilers so look away if you haven't read it.

So, okay, obviously this is an older, darker version of Ballet Shoes. A more realistic version rather than a sordid version imo (and I say this as a great devotee of Ballet Shoes). It starts in exactly the same way and continues along similar lines but instead of great talent lovingly nurtured and a happy ending, Streatfeild delves into the 'what might have been' if Pauline, Petrova and Posy had grown up next door (altho
Oct 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was very readable and I fairly gulped it down. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would as I had heard it was a bit grim and grubby. And it is grubby and some points I just wanted to scream at the characters to watch out! A dark 1st adult version of Ballet Shoes, which leaves one unsatisfied somehow...
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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

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