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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 War.In the story there are three little girls - Isobel, the eldest, is pretty, gentle and artistic; Louise the y 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 War.In 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 quite as untalented as she feels. The 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.


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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 War.In the story there are three little girls - Isobel, the eldest, is pretty, gentle and artistic; Louise the y 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 War.In 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 quite as untalented as she feels. The 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.

30 review for A Vicarage Family: A Biography of Myself

  1. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    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 more mature view into t 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 more mature view into the thoughts of the adults around her, and there are resemblances to her children's books; Vicky/Streatfeild 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 (e.g., tennis for Tennis Shoes and the circus for The Circus Is Coming) and her experiences doing war work in London during WWII.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    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 firs 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. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I loved her books as a child. Bought this for my daughter and took a quick dip beforehand.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    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! 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!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daisy May Johnson

    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 quite 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, always. But on a more practical 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 quite 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, always. But on a more 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 excitement! Despite 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    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 writer. A great book for many 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 writer. A 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 more intricacy. There's more, too. She knows how to end well. I will be reading more of her books! (A favorite part was Victoria "singing" conversations to her friends in music class. Have done this myself in choir, in *gasp* church - yeah- it's quite common behavior that just never gets mentioned.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    A Vicarage Family is the somewhat fictionalized account of Noel Streatfeild's life growing up in a vicarage during the years leading up to WWI. In 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 f A Vicarage Family is the somewhat fictionalized account of Noel Streatfeild's life growing up in a vicarage during the years leading up to WWI. In 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 talent. Fortunately 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 girl. For 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 more naive than some of her contemporaries. I 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 life." Her 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 child. In the end I was left wanting to know more about this family and in particular what becomes of the 3 sisters. There are two more autobiographical novels that Streatfeild wrote but unfortunately I am having a difficult time tracking down copies. If I find them, I will read them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    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 coul 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 quite 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    ‘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 quickly 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 ‘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 quickly 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 holidays. Vicky 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 character. There 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 – cake. When 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 war. I 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kate Forsyth

    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 child. A Vicarage Family is an autobiographical novel inspired by her own childhood growing up as a vicar’s daughter in the early 1900s. It give 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 child. A 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    CLM

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

  12. 5 out of 5

    rainydaysandliterature

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The main reason I adored this book because I could connect to on personal level. I didn’t like the end as it wasn’t satisfying as John was killed off and told to the family by a telegram and this was all in the very last page.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Jeffrey

    The semi autobiographical early life of the author. An accurate portrayal of how life feels in a family when you are seen as neither gifted or beautiful when compared to your sisters. The final chapter about her cousin John is very poignant.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Felicity

    This is one of my favourite books from childhood and it still stands the test of time. Noel Streatfeild was one of my favourite authors growing up and this was the first one I ever read as my mum gave me her old copy. This is the first of a trilogy of autobiographies based on Streatfeild's life. This one is about her childhood growing up in a vicarage. According to the biography I read about her this is very accurate apart from names being changed and her cousin being a permanent member of their This is one of my favourite books from childhood and it still stands the test of time. Noel Streatfeild was one of my favourite authors growing up and this was the first one I ever read as my mum gave me her old copy. This is the first of a trilogy of autobiographies based on Streatfeild's life. This one is about her childhood growing up in a vicarage. According to the biography I read about her this is very accurate apart from names being changed and her cousin being a permanent member of their household. Streatfeild writes so vividly about her family and the way she felt when she was at that awkward age before puberty. I remember identifying with her as a child as I also struggled to not lose my temper and like anyone felt misunderstood. Her family had some very interesting characters including her grandparents and her father and I am not sure if she would have been a writer if her cousin hadn't suggested she started to read more. A lovely book about a bygone era and an insight in to what it is like being brought up in a vicarge.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Magda

    1963 edition, hardback. Another charming book by Noel Streatfeild, admittedly autobiographical. Now that I've read it for the first time, I can sort of "see" her character in her other books which I remember and am reading. I did especially enjoy the historical-fiction aspects of the book. I was glad to find, from the list at the end, that calling all those books "Such-and-Such Shoes" was merely the fault of the Americans, and that the British titles actually had proper names. I mean "Ballet Shoes 1963 edition, hardback. Another charming book by Noel Streatfeild, admittedly autobiographical. Now that I've read it for the first time, I can sort of "see" her character in her other books which I remember and am reading. I did especially enjoy the historical-fiction aspects of the book. I was glad to find, from the list at the end, that calling all those books "Such-and-Such Shoes" was merely the fault of the Americans, and that the British titles actually had proper names. I mean "Ballet Shoes" and "Theater Shoes" weren't bad, but "Family Shoes"?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dianna

    This is a novelized autobiography of Noel Streatfield's life (with names changed, of course, and who knows how many facts?). A must-read if you're a fan of Noel Streatfeild! I would have guessed that she would have grown up a stage child, but her childhood was very different and her books are based more on her childhood dreams than on the way it actually was. I'm excited to read the next installment of her life, wherein I believe she actually goes on the stage (but not as a young child). This is a novelized autobiography of Noel Streatfield's life (with names changed, of course, and who knows how many facts?). A must-read if you're a fan of Noel Streatfeild! I would have guessed that she would have grown up a stage child, but her childhood was very different and her books are based more on her childhood dreams than on the way it actually was. I'm excited to read the next installment of her life, wherein I believe she actually goes on the stage (but not as a young child).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is Noel Steatfeild's semi-autobiographical novel about her tween years growing up in England just before WWI. She was the problem child, healthy and strong-willed, sandwiched between two sisters who were less-than-healthy and better behaved than she. The writing, like the character, is a little bumpy and uneven, but it is a good coming of age story and an interesting picture of a shabby genteel family in pre-war England. This is Noel Steatfeild's semi-autobiographical novel about her tween years growing up in England just before WWI. She was the problem child, healthy and strong-willed, sandwiched between two sisters who were less-than-healthy and better behaved than she. The writing, like the character, is a little bumpy and uneven, but it is a good coming of age story and an interesting picture of a shabby genteel family in pre-war England.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    When I was a child I loved Noel Streatfeild books. I think it was the combination of the performing and the relationship of the sisters. I had almost forgotten them until I saw this memoir. Cant imagine growing up in that environment myself, but her story was interesting. The intrusion of war made me want to read more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    First part of the trilogy autobiography of Noel Streatfeild. Detailed account of a British family's life before World War One: Noel S is the daughter, Vicky, who seems to do everything wrong and (in her mind) is the least loved. Not always a cheery book, but I enjoy living NS's life with her. First part of the trilogy autobiography of Noel Streatfeild. Detailed account of a British family's life before World War One: Noel S is the daughter, Vicky, who seems to do everything wrong and (in her mind) is the least loved. Not always a cheery book, but I enjoy living NS's life with her.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Caitlinleah

    i love her so hard. i need to re-read all thes shoes books now.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    The first of a trilogy of autobiography, although the names were changed to make the author "more comfortable" about writing it. Fascinating and a little dark. The first of a trilogy of autobiography, although the names were changed to make the author "more comfortable" about writing it. Fascinating and a little dark.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    See my review on my book blog: http://quirkyreader.livejournal.com/2... See my review on my book blog: http://quirkyreader.livejournal.com/2...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    The first Noel Streatfield I've read. Thoroughly engaging, once I was well into it - an old-fashioned family story but unsentimental in its characterizations.. Rounded up from 3.5 ;-) The first Noel Streatfield I've read. Thoroughly engaging, once I was well into it - an old-fashioned family story but unsentimental in its characterizations.. Rounded up from 3.5 ;-)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Harsha Priolkar

    3.5 stars. For a large part of this book I was angry, just like Vicky was. My heart went out to her for the awkwardness and confusion she suffered, growing up with parents so wrapped up with serving the community and caring for her siblings who had 'easy' tempers, that she felt unloved and uncared for. I'm so thankful that she had her sister Isobel and her cousin John as confidantes and cheer-leaders to make up for her unfortunately conservative if well-intentioned parents. She was by no means an 3.5 stars. For a large part of this book I was angry, just like Vicky was. My heart went out to her for the awkwardness and confusion she suffered, growing up with parents so wrapped up with serving the community and caring for her siblings who had 'easy' tempers, that she felt unloved and uncared for. I'm so thankful that she had her sister Isobel and her cousin John as confidantes and cheer-leaders to make up for her unfortunately conservative if well-intentioned parents. She was by no means an easy child to handle, but to me that was her prerogative - she was growing up, sensitive, & she didn't like being poor - a devastatingly difficult combination. She had parents who although they loved her, were inhibited by their poverty and their personalities from being sensitive to her needs and who weren't the best of 'listeners'. I understand that they were no worse or better than the society at the time, but that didn't make me like them any better nor forgive them for being so dense at times - especially her Mother :( That incident with the birthday cake was just horrendously insensitive! I liked Annie - the cook who has more sense than Vicky's mother certainly! This book being the first of the trilogy of Noel Streatfeild's fictionalised autobiography although well-written has put me off reading the other two books at least in the near future. Perhaps it's the choice of Streatfeild's memories and the way she constructs them on paper that makes it so. I get the feeling that it was a difficult, unhappy childhood spent largely as a misfit yet also that she wasn't as unhappy as she would like me to imagine! An unreliable narrator? Perhaps?! What disappointed me particularly, was the lack of humour in the narrative. I've read The Bell Family by Streatfeild, another vicarage family story - poor but happy and humourous. Perhaps this is the family she imagined for herself during the difficult growing-up years? This is the first time I find myself rating a book based solely on the author's writing skills and not on the characters in the story!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    I loved Ballet Shoes by this author and I had this book on my Kindle (though I can't remember when or why I bought it). It fit the prompt for the reading challenge I was doing so I picked it up. And it was very enjoyable. The style of writing was very similar to Ballet Shoes, which I really enjoyed, and I enjoyed how we got to see many different perspectives throughout the book. This is a fictional autobiography, and considering we got the points of view of the children, the parents and the teac I loved Ballet Shoes by this author and I had this book on my Kindle (though I can't remember when or why I bought it). It fit the prompt for the reading challenge I was doing so I picked it up. And it was very enjoyable. The style of writing was very similar to Ballet Shoes, which I really enjoyed, and I enjoyed how we got to see many different perspectives throughout the book. This is a fictional autobiography, and considering we got the points of view of the children, the parents and the teachers, the fictional parts were interwoven with the non-fiction parts. Noel Streatfield writes children really well and this came to the front here with Vicky, who took throwaway comments by adults to heart and loved her parents while knowing they weren't perfect. She was very realistic about her loved ones, showcasing the era they lived in with John not seeing girls' education as anything to be worried about, and her father as blinkered to the realities of his actual family, rather than the idealised version he remembered from his childhood. This was written in the 1960s and some aspects of the era were critiqued, like sending boys away to boarding school and how children's opinions were treated, which was interesting to read about. This was a fun biography to read and I would recommend it to anyone who has read this author's previous books. 4 stars!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I started this and couldn’t get into it. I picked it up again a month later and finished it in two days. So who knows? Suffice it to say, I ended up loving this fictionalized account of Noel Streatfeild’s teenage years. She reminds me so much of Jo March, a tomboy, rambunctious, naughty, high spirited, a writer, imaginative. I love her relationships with her siblings, especially Isobel, with her cousin John, and with the headmistress of her second school Miss French. The details of Edwardian lif I started this and couldn’t get into it. I picked it up again a month later and finished it in two days. So who knows? Suffice it to say, I ended up loving this fictionalized account of Noel Streatfeild’s teenage years. She reminds me so much of Jo March, a tomboy, rambunctious, naughty, high spirited, a writer, imaginative. I love her relationships with her siblings, especially Isobel, with her cousin John, and with the headmistress of her second school Miss French. The details of Edwardian life and life in a vicarage were so interesting. There were tidbits here and there of how women were viewed at the time, such as the father’s opposition to women’s suffrage. But it was quite plain in the narrative that Vicky was going to bust through those stereotypes without a second thought. I could never figure the mother out exactly. Perhaps she will become more clear on a second reading. The father was quite true to form for certain clergymen—so unworldly as to be quite dense about certain things (like women liking to dress nicely). I’m glad I found out that this was the first of three because the ending was a bit abrupt, albeit a good way to tie up a theme in the second half of the book, and it was heartbreaking in a Rilla of Ingleside way.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This isn't a truly fantastic book or even unusually well-written. However, it is comfort reading for those who like stories about late Victorian/Edwardian-era families, particularly those with awkward, overlooked, and sometimes troublesome middle children. Knowing that it is most autobiographical also adds to its charm and helps the reader overlook the fact that it is more episodic than plot-driven. It provides a window into the normal lives of a slightly less than middle-class family in another This isn't a truly fantastic book or even unusually well-written. However, it is comfort reading for those who like stories about late Victorian/Edwardian-era families, particularly those with awkward, overlooked, and sometimes troublesome middle children. Knowing that it is most autobiographical also adds to its charm and helps the reader overlook the fact that it is more episodic than plot-driven. It provides a window into the normal lives of a slightly less than middle-class family in another time and place, which is to say it allows us vicariously to live a life that is quite unlike our own even while being surprisingly familiar. Knowing that Streatfeild wrote additional volumes about her own life makes the otherwise rather abrupt ending a little more explicable. It also makes me wonder if those sequels pay off a bit more in revealing how troublemaker "Vicky" became the successful author Noel Streatfeild. The sprouts of this career are visible in A Vicarage Family, but there is obviously much more to be told.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    Life can be hard for naughty girls. Girls who are intelligent and misunderstood by their elders. These are the girls who go out and make a difference. Bold, willful, risk-takers. I love reading about them and their misdeeds and adventures. Our heroine in this novel, Victoria Strangeways, based on the author herself wrote about her life in her vicarage family in the early 1910s thinking everybody was mean to her. Nobody understood her, except her cousin John. Vicky reminds me of other heroines, s Life can be hard for naughty girls. Girls who are intelligent and misunderstood by their elders. These are the girls who go out and make a difference. Bold, willful, risk-takers. I love reading about them and their misdeeds and adventures. Our heroine in this novel, Victoria Strangeways, based on the author herself wrote about her life in her vicarage family in the early 1910s thinking everybody was mean to her. Nobody understood her, except her cousin John. Vicky reminds me of other heroines, such as Laura in 'The Getting of Wisdom', Jo March in 'Little Women', Mary in 'A Secret Garden' and Anne Shirley, of 'Anne of Green Gables'. They got themselves into so many scrapes, you just cringed for them, but they survived and they lived a meaningful life. This book is enchanting and the writing is smooth, old-fashioned and a delight to read. The ending was brilliant albeit a little sad.

  29. 5 out of 5

    scarlettraces

    Super interesting for anyone who grew up reading Streatfeild, as I did, since the basic wellsprings for her writing are clearly exposed. Also instructive, not to mention mildly horrifying, as to Victorian and post-Victorian paternalistic attitudes. I still cannot bring myself to believe that a parent would confirm his child against their express will (that might also be my Presbyterian and Calvinist ancestors though, no truck with Anglicanism low or otherwise there). It's an interesting counterp Super interesting for anyone who grew up reading Streatfeild, as I did, since the basic wellsprings for her writing are clearly exposed. Also instructive, not to mention mildly horrifying, as to Victorian and post-Victorian paternalistic attitudes. I still cannot bring myself to believe that a parent would confirm his child against their express will (that might also be my Presbyterian and Calvinist ancestors though, no truck with Anglicanism low or otherwise there). It's an interesting counterpoint to Sybille Bedford's Jigsaw, another fictionalised autobiography almost of the same period but which uncovers a lifestyle diametrically opposed to the vicarage. My comparison is a bit strained though as Streatfeild's adolescence was pre and Bedford's post WWI, and as Streatfeild clearly states, that was the great chasm and divide of her world.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Anderson

    This, the first of three autobiographical books, takes us from Noël (called Victoria or Vicky) in this book at age 10 to age 16. She renames herself and the other members of her family and plays a bit with dates, but the emotions of her family relationships and feeling about herself as a child are all there, at least as far as I could tell. The other interesting thing to me was that in her f description of herself and others, I could see the characters in some o her books and the distinctive rela This, the first of three autobiographical books, takes us from Noël (called Victoria or Vicky) in this book at age 10 to age 16. She renames herself and the other members of her family and plays a bit with dates, but the emotions of her family relationships and feeling about herself as a child are all there, at least as far as I could tell. The other interesting thing to me was that in her f description of herself and others, I could see the characters in some o her books and the distinctive relationships she creates or her fictional families -- where often the parents are dead, absent or fanciful and the solid adult figures for the fictional children are often grandparents, governesses, nannies and other servants. I can't wait to read the other two books.

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