Persephone Readathon #2: Saplings by Novel Streatfield

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My read for Jessie@ DwellinPossibility‘s Persephone Readathon #2 is Saplings by Noel Streatfield. I loved Noel Streatfield’s “Shoes” books as a kid (Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Theatre Shoes,  etc).  Interestingly, Saplings starts off as an inversion of the scenario that begins Streatfield’s most famous children’s book, Ballet Shoes. That book features several orphans come together to form a family unit that benefits economically from their talents. Saplings, on the other hand, begins with a happy upper-middle-class family on vacation at the seaside circa 1939. But while the setting and the characters appear idyllic, cracks soon begin to show. Mom is beautiful but narcissistic. She sees her children as “charming decorations.” She enjoys them when they reflect well on her, but she leaves that actual work of childrearing to her husband, the nanny and the governess. Still, as long as they receive love and affection, as well as rules and structure from adults in their lives, the children are happy. Dad is a loving family man who is proud of his four children. But it soon becomes clear that he’s planned this holiday because he has a strong sense of foreboding. He knows England will soon be at war with Germany and if/when that happens these family beach vacations will be a thing of the past. He plans for the safest and least disruptive ways to handle that eventuality. Though they begin as a happy family unit, we see the seeds of that disintegration early on.

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Cover painting: WVS Clothing Exchange by Evelyn Gibbs, 1943
© Imperial War Museum

Throughout the readathon there are optional challenges which you can read about here:

Photogenic Persephones: Share a photo of your Persephone collection and/or your readathon TBR stack.

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Beautiful Endpapers: Show us a photo of your current book’s endpapers/your favorite Persephone endpapers/or design your own endpapers.

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A 1938 fabric by Marion Dorn was chosen for Saplings. It is called ‘Aircraft’ and shows pairs of stylised pigeons in flight on a background of natural linen. It contains the imagery of aircraft being readied for war yet of birds freely in flight.

7 thoughts on “Persephone Readathon #2: Saplings by Novel Streatfield

  1. Pingback: Persephone Readathon #3 | Fran Laniado- Author

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