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10 thoughts on “A Vicarage Family

  1. Margaret Margaret says:

    This is the first of Streatfeild's three volumes of fictionalized autobiography; in the forewords Streatfeild claims to have changed only names calling herself Victoria Strangeway but she apparently changed other things as well events and dates to make them fit in better with her narrative The first book covers Vicky's childhood as one of the vicarage girls along with her sisters and brother Streatfeild captures the point of view of a child nicely as well as a mature view into the thoughts of the adults around her and there are resemblances to her children's books; VickyStreatfeild reminds me rather of Ginnie Bell of the Bell family books The second book covers her acting career and the third her writing career; the narrative becomes a little disjointed in the third book but I liked the glimpses into her research for books eg tennis for Tennis Shoes and the circus for The Circus Is Coming and her experiences doing war work in London during WWII


  2. Mir Mir says:

    Reading this it is easy to see why Streatfeild is so successful at writing for children she clearly has a strong memory of what it felt like to be a child Unlike her own father she does not idealize her home or the behavior of herself and her siblings Imaginative stubborn humorous resentful and self conscious Vicky did not fit well with her pious and well behaved family She paints a fascinating picture of daily life for impoverished but upper class English families before the first world war and her friends and family will be especially interesting to long time readers


  3. Hilary Hilary says:

    Have given up for now may come back to this Surprising as I've loved my Streatfield books and love biographies but just couldn't get into this one


  4. Louise / Daisy May Johnson Louise / Daisy May Johnson says:

    I recently found a copy of A Vicarage Family in a charity shop and had a 'no book left behind' moment over it It's a book I first read a long while ago and one that left me conscious of the necessity of giving your family a suet pudding to eat before the Sunday roast without ever being uite conscious of what a suet pudding was nor why you had to eat one before the meal Isn't it strange the shards that books leave within you? The Vicarage Family is suet for me alwaysBut on a practical and less food orientated note this book is about family It is a fictionalised autobiography of Streatfeild's childhood and one that wasn't as much fun to read for me this time as it was first time round It felt a little episodic a little disjointed and strangely underwhelming I'm not sure why it didn't work for me as much as it did though that point about the suet still made me smile I know what suet is now The excitementDespite all of this this is still a book I'd reccommend though particularly to those interested in childhood life at the turn of the century and the influence that this played upon Streatfeild's books And there is an influence you can almost trace the stroppy and madly talented Vicky a thin veiling of Streatfeild in the iconic books that Streatfeild would go onto produce It's charming interesting but not for me this time round as brilliantly written as her later work


  5. Sylvester Sylvester says:

    Now I understand why Saplings was so well written The family relationships siblings parents husband to wife grandparents cousins etc it's all here Streatfeild writes from life How else to say it? When you've lived it seen it felt it you know it enough to convince your readers Being an actress I think she must have always had that spirit of watching observing as if to embody the different people herself this also happens to make her an excellent writerA great book for many reasons She's not proud She knows what a pain in the tutu she was and she doesn't shy away from showing it Fictionalizing her life gives her freedom to take the main focus off herself and give the other members of her family fair play also the interplay of relationships has intricacy There's too She knows how to end wellI will be reading of her booksA favorite part was Victoria singing conversations to her friends in music class Have done this myself in choir in gasp church yeah it's uite common behavior that just never gets mentioned


  6. Jeanette Jeanette says:

    A Vicarage Family is the somewhat fictionalized account of Noel Streatfeild's life growing up in a vicarage during the years leading up to WWIIn this novelization of her early years Noel becomes Victoria the rebellious daughter who found life growing up in a vicarage to be very restricting The middle of 3 sisters and one brother Victoria was often misunderstood or overlooked Her older sister Isobel was artistic meek and gentle Louise the younger sister was considered the beauty of the family and Vicky? She was the odd one out plain with seemingly little talentFortunately as the story progressed Vicky started to find her footing and began to realize that she might not be so plain or talentless And as we know she went on to become a talented actress and popular author While her mischievous streak left her family frustrated and concerned I found Vicky to be a highly misunderstood caring fun and smart girlFor me Victoria's story was a little different but also similar to the experiences of others in the years leading up to WWI Like most young people of the era Vicky was really unaware of all that was brewing in the world around her specifically the events that would lead to war However I think living a sheltered life in a vicarage perhaps made Vicky and her family even naive than some of her contemporariesI really enjoyed this book and found all the characters to be very distinct and interesting in their own way I often found myself wondering what her family members thought of the story and her not always necessarily glowing descriptions of them Streatfeild addressed this dilemma herself How does the autobiographer handle a brother and sisters? A father and mother? How they looked how they appeared to me as persons yes But what they were like inside?It is because of my awareness that my portraits of the rest of my family are probably faulty that I have used no real names The thin shield of anonymity helped me feel unselfconscious in drawing them and in approaching the facts of my own lifeHer mother in particular I found to be rather beastly at times But Streatfeild made it clear that in later years the two become much closer than they were when she was a childIn the end I was left wanting to know about this family and in particular what becomes of the 3 sisters There are two autobiographical novels that Streatfeild wrote but unfortunately I am having a difficult time tracking down copies If I find them I will read them


  7. Ariel Ariel says:

    I don't know that this book deserves 5 stars on any kind of literary basis But as a lifelong Shoes fan I just so enjoyed it especially finding little bits of Noel Streatfeild's novels in this fictionalized account of her childhood Though it wasn't a very happy childhood all in all Like Petrova in Ballet Shoes and Jane in Movie Shoes she was the difficult middle child who didn't value herself because she was different Like Santa in Circus Shoes she played the violin very badly and could only manage the hymn Art Thou Weary Art Thou Languid Like all of her characters she and her family were poor as the proverbial churchmice and suffered over their unfashionable clothing and accoutrements Interestingly though she admits it's a fictionalized memoir she writes from everyone's point of view her mother her father her sister her schoolteachers her beloved cousin She is mostly uite convincing as the omniscient narrator though now and then I did stop and say This is really unfair Mostly though I was soon rooting for Noel character all the way Her rigid disapproving mother comes off horribly which only serves to illustrate that old warning Don't spank them; they'll only grow up and write a book about you It is such a satisfaction to know that in the end Noel did triumph; she was a successful actress playwright and novelist and traveled all over the world


  8. Theresa Theresa says:

    ‘A Vicarage Family’ left me with mixed feelings Best classified as autobiographical fiction this is Noel Streatfeild’s story with some embellishments as the author couldn’t possibly know the inner thoughts of her schoolteachers and household staff However I found it a fast read and I was uickly caught up in Victoria’s plight The middle child of a poor vicar’s family Vicky is forever making resolutions to improve herself and forever failing to keep them Her older sister Isobel is a gifted artist and every attempt is made to encourage her artistic talent Victoria’s younger sister Louise beautiful and spoiled is comfortably predicted for an early marriage and lots of children The only person who seems sympathetic to Vicky’s feelings of being ‘left out’ are her cousin John who visits and stays with the family on holidaysVicky has a lively and creative nature and is forever seeming to land herself 'in the soup' Expelled from her grammar school she is transferred to another girls' school with hope of improving both her scholastic record and in her characterThere are poignant and entertaining anecdotes of this young family mixed with the stories of summer holidays that seem to be mostly endured due to incessant rain and lack of funds for entertainment However there are also bright spots like the Christmas holiday traditions “Their mother always decorated the tree and they were never allowed to see it until the candles were lit That year the tree stood in the small annexe to the drawing room – a perfect place because there were curtains which could be drawn back when the tree was to be seen in all its glory That year there were about fifteen waifs and strays mostly women all rather shy and sad while they drank tea and ate Victoria’s birthday – now the Christmas – cakeWhen the tea was cleared Annie and Hester joined the party and soon everyone was circling the tree singing ‘The first Nowell’ and then 'Good King Wenceslaus' with John singing the King’s verses and Victoria the page’s Then came the time to strip the tree The majority of the parcels were for the family of course but no one was allowed to feel left out so there were plenty of little gifts for the guests Vicky’s headmistress at her school despairs of her as do her teachers but Victoria’s grandparents provide support and understanding just when she needs it most The family cook Annie takes Victoria under her wing and champions her even personally caring for her when the entire family suffers through an epidemic of influenza Vicky finds she has a talent for writing and directing plays but her attempts at self improvement seem to her to be frustratingly slow However by the end of the story Victoria finds that she has grown up partly due to the harsh circumstances of the warI found that I wanted to continue on with the story and will be definitely looking for a copy of the next book in the series


  9. Kate Forsyth Kate Forsyth says:

    Noel Streatfield is a British children’s writer most famous for her 1930s and 1940s children’s books often called ‘the Shoes’ series as many were published in the US with similar titles such as Ballet Shoes Party Shoes Skating Shoes and so on She’s one of my favourite Golden Era children’s authors and I’ve been collecting her books since I was a childA Vicarage Family is an autobiographical novel inspired by her own childhood growing up as a vicar’s daughter in the early 1900s It gives a great deal of insight into the attitudes and beliefs of the British middle class at the turn of the century and into the forces that shaped one of the world’s most revered children’s writers


  10. CLM CLM says:

    First in a three book memoir of Noel Streatfeild's childhood It is reminiscent of all her Shoes books particularly of the Bell Family


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A Vicarage Family A Vicarage Family is the first part in a fictionalized autobiography in which Noel Streatfeild tells the story of her own childhood painting a poignant and vivid picture of daily life in an impoverished genteel family in the years leading up to the First World WarIn the story there are three little girls Isobel the eldest is pretty gentle and artistic; Louise the youngest is sweet and talented and then there is Vicky 'the plain one' the awkward and rebellious child who doesn't fit in at school or at home Growing up in a big family Vicky feels overlooked but gradually begins to realize that she might not be uite as untalented as she feelsThe Vicky of this story is of course the much loved Noel Streatfeild who went on to write so many wonderful family stories the most famous being Ballet Shoes