What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

The Gate in the Wall
This topic is about The Gate in the Wall
SOLVED: Children's/YA > SOLVED. Runaway girl accesses a canal through a door in a hedge; scene where the canal boat gets lifted up level to level [s]

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message 1: by Js700 (new)

Js700 | 107 comments My family and I are trying to find this book. We heard it as an audio book around 2000 (it was written around then or in the 90s). Details we remember:

--A girl escapes through a door in a hedge (NOTE: this is not the book The Door in the Hedge

--There is a scene on a canal boat and she describes the way the boat goes through different levels: the boat enters one section, more water comes in to raise it to the second section, the gates close and the process begins again.

--We think it was written by a woman

--Children's/young adult

message 2: by Khoragos (new)

Khoragos | 4 comments This seems too obvious, but: any chance it's The Golden Compass? I don't recall the scene in detail, but Lyra escapes pursuit on a canal boat with the Gyptians...

message 3: by Sherri (new)

Sherri | 74 comments Perhaps "Thursday's Child" by Noel Streatfeild? Margaret Thursday is an orphan who runs away from the orphanage with two other children, there are extensive passages about their travel on a canal boat- she helps to walk the boat through the locks.

message 4: by Holly (new)

Holly (hollylovesbooks) | 761 comments Do you remember when the book was set? Did it have a historical setting or did it take place during the 1990s/2000s?

message 5: by Lark (new)

Lark | 69 comments Was it fantasy?
If it was, it might be one of the Stravaganza series. Try City of Masks or City of Stars.
I vaguely remember that description of the canals in one of the books, but I can't remember which one in the series.

message 6: by Js700 (new)

Js700 | 107 comments It definitely wasn't the Golden Compass or The City of Masks/Stars. We don't think it was fantasy or historical.

My mum seems to think she was running away from something (London, perhaps), and met up with some children.

Written in the 90s we think.

message 7: by Js700 (new)

Js700 | 107 comments We're looking at "Thursday's Child" by Noel Streatfeild, but my mum doesn't think the book was that old. We can't seem to find a lot of information about that book online

message 8: by Kris (new)

Kris | 35181 comments Mod
Following up on Sherri's suggestion of "Thursday's Child", here's a description of the story:

"Thursday's Child is set at the beginning of the 20th century. As a baby, Margaret Thursday was found on the church steps one Thursday morning, with a note "This is Margaret whom I entrust to your care. Each year fifty-two pounds will be sent for her keep and schooling. She has not yet been christened" (Thurdsay's Child, 1970:11). Margaret is looked after by two old ladies and their servant, Hannah, and every year fifty-two golden sovereigns are left in the church some time between Christmas and New Year.

The year Margaret is ten, no money is left: instead there is a note saying "NO MORE MONEY FOR MARGARET". On the recommendation of the archdeacon, Margaret is sent to St Luke's Orphanage. Travelling to the orphanage, Margaret meets Lavinia, Peter and Horatio Beresford. Peter and Horatio are also going to the orphanage; Lavinia, aged 14, is going into service as a scullery maid.

The orphanage is poor, and the children are underfed, and treated badly by the sadistic Matron who is in charge. Margaret wants to run away, but Lavinia asks her to look after Peter and Horatio so she agrees to stay. From the beginning, Matron dislikes Margaret and feels that "she must be humbled" (p 30), but Margaret's spirit cannot be crushed."


message 9: by Js700 (new)

Js700 | 107 comments OK, No we definitely don't think it was Noel Streatfield's "Thursday's Child." None of those details are ringing true, and we are certain it wasn't that old. Thanks for the suggestion, Sheri, and update, Kris. Wish it was this!

Update: we are not sure it was a hedge. Might have been a door in a wall or a hole in a wall instead. There was definitely this feeling of leaving/escaping from one place to the next.

message 10: by Andria (new)

Andria (airdna) | 2501 comments Mod
This one also has fantasy/magic elements, but the canals play a big role, as I recall. The Water Mirror

message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Dougherty | 11 comments Solved; I happen to have a library copy of this charming children's book at home this very moment! Congratulations, Js700, your memory served you well! And here it is:

The Gate In The Wall
Ellen Howard (Author)
Atheneum; April 1, 1999
•ISBN-10: 0689822952
•ISBN-13: 978-0689822957

I'm finding Ellen Howard's book a pure delight to read, I recommend it highly... and amazingly enough, I'm an adult, and my reading tastes tend more towards non-fiction! It's only Howard's odd, self-defeating choice of title that's kept her wonderful book so anonymous. No matter how poetic 'gate' may be, or how important it is for the story (it appears early on, and it changes our young heroine's life), "The Gate in the Wall" is a complete non-sequitur for the book's subject, which is life along mid-England's canals during the 19th Century. You know something's seriously wrong when so many brilliant book-searchers couldn't hit on the title, and a bumbling amateur like myself has to stumble face-first on top of it!

[Spoiler Alert:]
This is a story of working-class life along England's extensive canal network during the Industrial Revolution, told in simple children's language and complete with detailed descriptions of canals, their functions, their scenery, and broad Midlands vernacular ("Lancashire", perhaps?) spoken by the characters. At a time when so much of life amongst Britain's lower classes was mean, squalid, and lacking in so much basic human dignity, working-class life along the canals was as happy and satisfying as could be found in England, or indeed anywhere for that matter, and that's the theme of our young heroine's story. xxx makes this life sound so pleasant (despite the occasional very hard work), I wouldn't mind trying it myself for a little while, though perhaps I'd prefer a slightly less irascible boss than Mrs. M, warm-hearted though she may be...

Happy reading!

(By the way: this is a 19th Century story, NOT 18th Century as stated at Amazon. After all, trains had not yet been invented in the 18th Century, as far as I know...)

message 12: by Serendi (new)

Serendi Good sleuthing, Michael.

JS700, do you agree that it's The Gate In The Wall?

message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael Dougherty | 11 comments Thanks, Serendi, though I certainly can't claim credit for any "sleuthing" - it was pure accident!

Of course you're quite right, Js700 should confirm this is the correct book. Can't wait for the final verdict, fingers crossed...

message 14: by Js700 (new)

Js700 | 107 comments Yes! It is! Thanks again Michael--so happy to have this book back! I ordered it and loved every minute of the re-read. Highly recommended!

message 15: by Michael (new)

Michael Dougherty | 11 comments Excellent news, Js700, and you're absolutely right, this charming book is a wonderful read at any age! What happy, happy lives 19th Century canal folks lead despite all that cranking at the locks (huff, huff...), the walking in the rain, etc. etc.

I so got into this story, I kept putting myself in Mrs. Minshull's place. "Tough, smart old lady to be sure: knows her business, great earner, savvy at finding loads to carry, and good and kind to young Emma and Rosie [her horse]. But my, what a big spender this woman is! Has to be, considering her relatively steady money income and no heavy overhead [seemingly no mortgage at all, already owns her boat and horse], just normal operating costs [feed Emma, buy those boots, feed and groom Rosie, normal boat maintenance]. SO WHAT'S WITH THE CONSTANT MONEY WORRIES??? Myself, I'd cut down on all those meat pies!"

I enjoyed our book so much, I'm considering writing a review at Amazon. Happy reading, Js700, and thank you for bringing it to my attention!

message 16: by me (new)

me | 1 comments Thank you Js700 for asking this question. I've been looking for this wonderful book off-and-on for years.

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