Beth Bonini's Reviews > Saplings

Saplings by Noel Streatfeild
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's review
Feb 12, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: persephone-books
Read in January, 2011

Noel Streatfeild is best-known for her children's books -- especially Ballet Shoes, of course.
This is a novel ABOUT children, but it is definitely aimed at adults. It was written just at the end of World War II, and the inspiration for it must have come from what she had directly observed during those tumultuous years in England. At the very end of the book, she has a very minor character (a charwoman) saying that at least in England, (as opposed to France) the children haven't had to suffer during the war. These final words might as well be underscored as "deeply ironic" because the novel is about just how much the particular children of one upper-middle class English family have been made to suffer.

Without giving too much away, these adored and sheltered children suffer from all sorts of anxieties and uncertainties -- some of them due to obvious tragedies, and others due to being neglected and/or misunderstood. There is an interesting afterword to the book which suggests how psychologically acute the book is about the children's emotional states -- at a time when such understanding was quite rare.

I enjoyed some aspects of the novel -- and it was engrossing enough -- but it was also quite sad.
I would recommend it if you are particularly interested in that era (the WWII years in England), but it has not been my favourite of the Persephone books.
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