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The Bell Family

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'Well, little people, what's the news?' Meet the big, happy Bell family who live in the vicarage at St Marks. Father is a reverend, Mother is as kind as kind can be. Then there's all the children - practical Paul, dancing Jane, mischievous Ginnie, and finally the baby of the family, Angus, whose ambition is to own a private zoo (he has already begun with his six boxes o 'Well, little people, what's the news?' Meet the big, happy Bell family who live in the vicarage at St Marks. Father is a reverend, Mother is as kind as kind can be. Then there's all the children - practical Paul, dancing Jane, mischievous Ginnie, and finally the baby of the family, Angus, whose ambition is to own a private zoo (he has already begun with his six boxes of caterpillars). And not forgetting Esau, a sure fire competitor for the most beautiful dog in Britain. Follow their eventful lives from tense auditions to birthday treats; from troubled times to hilarious escapades. Includes exclusive material: In the Backstory you can find out which one of the Bell children you most resemble! Vintage Children's Classics is a twenty-first century classics list aimed at 8-12 year olds and the adults in their lives. Discover timeless favourites from Peter Pan and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to modern classics such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.


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'Well, little people, what's the news?' Meet the big, happy Bell family who live in the vicarage at St Marks. Father is a reverend, Mother is as kind as kind can be. Then there's all the children - practical Paul, dancing Jane, mischievous Ginnie, and finally the baby of the family, Angus, whose ambition is to own a private zoo (he has already begun with his six boxes o 'Well, little people, what's the news?' Meet the big, happy Bell family who live in the vicarage at St Marks. Father is a reverend, Mother is as kind as kind can be. Then there's all the children - practical Paul, dancing Jane, mischievous Ginnie, and finally the baby of the family, Angus, whose ambition is to own a private zoo (he has already begun with his six boxes of caterpillars). And not forgetting Esau, a sure fire competitor for the most beautiful dog in Britain. Follow their eventful lives from tense auditions to birthday treats; from troubled times to hilarious escapades. Includes exclusive material: In the Backstory you can find out which one of the Bell children you most resemble! Vintage Children's Classics is a twenty-first century classics list aimed at 8-12 year olds and the adults in their lives. Discover timeless favourites from Peter Pan and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to modern classics such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

30 review for The Bell Family

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This has one of the most Streatfeild openings ever written: The Thames is a very twisting sort of river. It is as if it had to force its way into London, and had become bent in the process. First there is a big bend to the right, then a little one to the left, then a great bulge to the right, followed immediately by a smaller bulge to the left. In that smaller bulge to the left is the part of southeast London in which the Bells lived.And the entire book is that Streatfeild-y, too. It's a little This has one of the most Streatfeild openings ever written: The Thames is a very twisting sort of river. It is as if it had to force its way into London, and had become bent in the process. First there is a big bend to the right, then a little one to the left, then a great bulge to the right, followed immediately by a smaller bulge to the left. In that smaller bulge to the left is the part of southeast London in which the Bells lived.And the entire book is that Streatfeild-y, too. It's a little messy - there are tons of characters - but it's warm and lively and funny. Ginny is a scream, and Jane is a believable talented person, and Paul is a great mixture of young and older than his age, and even Angus isn't overdone. Then there's Cathy, who is one of Streatfeild's warmest and most present mothers, and Alex, who's written with just the right touch, and Mrs. Gage - and Grandmother and Grandfather - and Alex's awful brother and his equally awful wife Rose - and of course Veronica, who Mumsie says looks sweetly pretty in blue. I just love this family a lot. I don't own a copy of New Shoes. I have just rectified that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Avril

    This version is a reprint in the Vintage Children's Classics series and it's interesting to see what the editors have decided need to be explained for twenty-first century children in the additions at the end of the book: 'Make do and mend...'; words like 'ermine', 'perambulator' and 'verger'. There's a brief biography of Noel Streatfeild, an explanation of the background to the book (it was originally a radio serial) and a couple of quizzes. There is also, for no reason that I can discern, a 'W This version is a reprint in the Vintage Children's Classics series and it's interesting to see what the editors have decided need to be explained for twenty-first century children in the additions at the end of the book: 'Make do and mend...'; words like 'ermine', 'perambulator' and 'verger'. There's a brief biography of Noel Streatfeild, an explanation of the background to the book (it was originally a radio serial) and a couple of quizzes. There is also, for no reason that I can discern, a 'Who's Who' that describes the characters about whom the reader has presumably just read. This book from the 1950s, published only 19 years before I was born, is definitely being presented as just as exotically historical as Little Women (1868) and The Railway Children (1905), both also in the Vintage Children's Classic series. I'm starting to feel like a relic myself! This is definitely not one of the best of Streatfeild's books. The reader has less access to the characters' inner lives than in most of her other children's books, presumably because the book started as a radio play. The children are all versions of children that we've seen before. And while I think we're meant to find Ginnie amusing and to be on her side, 'Miss Virginia Bell' came across to me as a self-centred little madam! The Bell Family is most interesting when read alongside Streatfeild's 'autobiography' A Vicarage Family. Alex Bell is another idealised version of 'Jim Strangeway' or William Streatfeild, and Cathy Bell is the sort of mother who could make life in an impoverished vicarage liveable and fairly comfortable, where poor 'Sylvia Strangeway' or Janet Streatfeild, as portrayed by Noel, failed miserably. There are some wonderful passages that sound like Noel is describing her own father and her reaction to him: 'Alex never got really cross. He thought it wrong to be cross and so struggled to keep that he was feeling cross to himself. Jane said Alex's keeping feeling cross to himself was worse than snapping out as ordinary people did, who were not parsons. She thought trying hard gave him a martyred face, which made other people lose their tempers looking at it'. But it's impossible to imagine Janet, portrayed as 'Sylvia', as ever saying: 'Do you think I'd miss one minute of watching my children grow up for all the money in the world?' Is Noel writing for the child who felt that her mother didn't like her? It's also interesting to compare this realistic book with Streatfeild's romances written as Susan Scarlett. I've recently read Babbacombe's and in both The Bell Family and Babbacombe's there is a family money box which constantly needs to be raided for emergencies and so the amount to be saved for is never reached. But in Babbacombe's the money in the box is for a fur coat for the mother of the family, and she is given a fur coat by the wealthy family into which her daughter marries. The ways in which the Bells come into needed money are a little more realistic, although still magical in the context of the book. Recommended for fans of Streatfeild, but I'd definitely start non-fans off on Ballet Shoes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Number 87 on my Classics Club list, The Bell Family by Noel Streatfeild was first published in 1954. As I so adored Ballet Shoes when I read it for the first time a couple of years ago, I had very high hopes for Streatfeild’s other works. The Bell Family has recently been reissued by Vintage Children’s Classics, with a darling cover designed by Alice Tait, and I was able to borrow a copy from my local library. The novel follows, as the title suggests, the Bell family, who are carrying out their ‘ Number 87 on my Classics Club list, The Bell Family by Noel Streatfeild was first published in 1954. As I so adored Ballet Shoes when I read it for the first time a couple of years ago, I had very high hopes for Streatfeild’s other works. The Bell Family has recently been reissued by Vintage Children’s Classics, with a darling cover designed by Alice Tait, and I was able to borrow a copy from my local library. The novel follows, as the title suggests, the Bell family, who are carrying out their ‘eventful lives’ against the busy backdrop of London. I adore the premise which is described in the blurb as follows: ‘Meet the big, happy Bell family who live in the vicarage at St Mark’s. Father is a reverend, Mother is as kind as kind can be. Then there are all the children – practical Paul, dancing Jane, mischievous Ginnie, and finally the baby of the family, Angus, whose ambition is to own a private zoo (he has already begun with his six boxes of caterpillars)’. Streatfeild sets the scene immediately: ‘The Thames is a very twisting sort of river. It is as if it had to force its way into London, and had become bent in the process… In the smaller bulge to the left is the part of south-east London in which the Bells lived. The people around where the Bells lived are not rich; mostly they live in small houses joined on to their next door neighbours. It is a very noisy part of the world. People shout a lot, and bang a lot, and laugh a lot’. The novel is almost like a series of short stories; the family are followed throughout, but a different event takes precedence in each chapter. In this manner, I was reminded of Michael Bond’s delightful Paddington novels, which use a very similar structure, and Rumer Godden’s children’s stories, which are written in the same quaint and amusing way. As with the other Vintage Children’s Classics, this edition of The Bell Family contains a wealth of extra information, ranging from an author biography to a quiz which you can take once you have finished reading. As a child, I would have been delighted by this interactive aspect, and it still charmed me somewhat as an adult reader. Streatfeild is very perceptive of her characters, and The Bell Family is certainly a nice book to settle down with. However, there is not really much of substance within its pages. It did not have a memorable cast of characters such as those within Ballet Shoes, and it paled rather in comparison. Whilst the Bell children were quite sweet, there was nothing overly distinctive about them, and I doubt I will remember much about them in a year or so. I imagine that I would have enjoyed The Bell Family far more had I been a child on my first encounter with it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Girl with her Head in a Book

    For my full review: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... There was a time when The Bell Family were Noel Streatfeild's most popular creations. Wherever Streatfeild went, she was reportedly quizzed about Miss Virginia Bell and her doings. In more recent decades however, the family faded from popularity and despite attempts to rebrand them into the Shoes series as Family Shoes, their adventures went out of print until Vintage came to the rescue. Having no ties of childhood nostalgia here but be For my full review: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... There was a time when The Bell Family were Noel Streatfeild's most popular creations. Wherever Streatfeild went, she was reportedly quizzed about Miss Virginia Bell and her doings. In more recent decades however, the family faded from popularity and despite attempts to rebrand them into the Shoes series as Family Shoes, their adventures went out of print until Vintage came to the rescue. Having no ties of childhood nostalgia here but being in the mood for some comfort reading, I was intrigued to see what I would make of the novel as an adult.The premise is of an impoverished vicarage family overcoming obstacles and in particular how the children of the family - Paul, Jane, Ginnie and Angus - achieve their ambitions. Regular readers of Streatfeild may notice that this situation closely resembles that of Streatfeild's own childhood, which she later fictionalised in A Vicarage Family, written around ten years after the publication of The Bell Family. Having read both books, Bell Family does feel slightly like The Whicharts to Vicarage's Ballet Shoes. Streatfeild does have form for re-using old material. The Bell parents are idealised versions of the characters who Streatfeild presents as her own parents in Vicarage. Alex Bell is the kindly vicar who believes that there is no point in ever getting cross and who holds no grudge at being cut off by his father for entering the church. His wife Cathy is the practical and warm woman who contrasts sharply with the much colder mother who Streatfeild depicted in A Vicarage Family. Cathy's repeated assertions of how little money matters to her (A sample speech is "Do you think I'd miss one minute of watching my children grow up for all the money in the world?") seems like wish fulfilment for Streatfeild when one considers how she later depicted her mother's resentfulness about the family finances. The four Bell children are Paul who plans to be a doctor, Jane who longs to dance, Ginnie who likes get in the way as much as possible and Angus who adores animals. There is also Esau the dog, beloved by all but fed the most appalling diet I have ever read - it was a miracle the poor animal made it to the end of the book still alive. The other thing which makes The Bell Family rather different to most of Streatfeild's other novels is that it started life as a radio serial. The book is therefore structured as a series of short stories rather than having an over-arching plot, with each episode resolved rapidly and with no major incident ever really taking place. The characters seem thinly drawn but I can imagine that might not have come across as strongly on the radio. Ginnie apparently had the breakout role, with her habit of referring to herself as Miss Virginia Bell taken as endearing over the airwaves while on the page it is rather more irksome. It was unfortunate that although she was clearly intended to provide the comedy, she grated on me increasingly as the book progressed. Between noseying in on someone who was ill and then not practising safe quarrantine standards, being rude to others, thoughtlessly promising other people's time in the hope of gaining glory for herself and then kidnapping a baby, she seemed less of a heroine and more of a brat. There are brats elsewhere in Streatfeild's fiction but they usually get a comeuppance. The Bell Family felt rather tired as a concept. While Streatfeild often recycled character types in her other novels, somehow the situations tend to feel more fresh. Here, things just felt very repetitive. The usual fretting over what to wear, the sniping against wealthier relatives looking down their noses, grief over frocks not being what they should be, etc, etc. If anyone ever wants to start up a Noel Streatfeild drinking game, I propose that one be obliged to take a sip every time she uses the word 'gorgeous' or 'gorgeously' (you'll be hammered in no time) and then down one's glass when the phrase 'sweetly pretty' crops up (it always does sooner or later). And at that point, I feel like the Grinch, which was the last thing that I wanted when I only picked the book up because I knew that Streatfeild stories always end happily and I'm a sleep-deprived first-time parent. Streatfeild was a commercial writer who made her living writing stories that would sell. The Bell Family had the feel of a second-rate The Family at One-End Street, which was published a decade previously. One-End Street broke ground in telling stories about a working-class family but were rather more interesting. Yet although Vintage is clearly trying to press the family Bell as a pleasing period-piece, it feels less vintage and more just ... dated. The dilemmas are never strong enough to generate real drama, the resolutions always too quick and over-the-top to be believable and the character development non-existent. In other books, the child protagonists are encouraged to make better choices - Ballet Shoes' Pauline learns not to be a diva, White Boots' Lalla suffers the consequences of being mean to Harriet, The Growing Summer children come to realise that they are not such martyrs after all - but there is no such growth for the Bells. It is not that Streatfeild is a substandard writer, it has been well over fifteen years since I last read A Vicarage Family and I still remember its painful final page, but here, the usual Streatfeild sparkle is absent.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rikke

    This was fun! Jolly good fun, I'm almost tempted to say. All in all, "The Bell Family" is a typical, old-fashioned children's story. Streatfeild tells the tale of a very charming, loud and noisy family and their everyday struggles and adventures. The Bell family is not exactly poor - they do not starve and they live in a very comfortable house. However they cannot afford the small luxuries in life. The eldest daughter Jane is pining for dance lessons, the youngest daughter Ginnie has a desperate This was fun! Jolly good fun, I'm almost tempted to say. All in all, "The Bell Family" is a typical, old-fashioned children's story. Streatfeild tells the tale of a very charming, loud and noisy family and their everyday struggles and adventures. The Bell family is not exactly poor - they do not starve and they live in a very comfortable house. However they cannot afford the small luxuries in life. The eldest daughter Jane is pining for dance lessons, the youngest daughter Ginnie has a desperate need for a new dress, and the summer holiday is quiet and dreadful, as the family cannot afford to go anywhere. The Bell family is constantly contrasted with their relatives who are rich but very obnoxious. While the Bell family isn't glamourous, they are good people who deserves lovely lives. As you read the story you cannot help but root for them; Jane deserves to succeed as a dancer, the family deserves a nice holiday and the eldest son Paul should be allowed to become a doctor. Streatfeild works magic as she unfolds her story. "The Bell Family" is a charmingly simple tale of a large family and their little hopes and sorrows.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mazzou B

    Cute story. Good for younger readers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    At first I thought I wouldn't like this book...the girls gush so, and there was a smell of the Skating Shoes family about it. Again the parents aren't Mum and Dad but "Cathy and Alex", making it hard to remember who's who just at first. (Why did Streatfeild consistently do that? in the thirties calling your parents by their names was not a thing.) There's a singing little brother, a girl who just has to dance, and an angry little sister who thinks she knows it all, along with a rather shadowy el At first I thought I wouldn't like this book...the girls gush so, and there was a smell of the Skating Shoes family about it. Again the parents aren't Mum and Dad but "Cathy and Alex", making it hard to remember who's who just at first. (Why did Streatfeild consistently do that? in the thirties calling your parents by their names was not a thing.) There's a singing little brother, a girl who just has to dance, and an angry little sister who thinks she knows it all, along with a rather shadowy eldest boy and the obligatory dog. However it did get better, though I got fine and tired of the youngest girl (the obligatory fat kid everyone laughs at) calling herself "Miss Virgina Bell" in conversation.Published in 1954, but with a definite feeling of earlier. My edition had notes in the back about how everyone in Britain had to "make do and mend" and how clothes were much more expensive then--but they neglect to mention that the quality of clothes etc was also much higher, and a dress or suit could be used for years and years without showing a lot of wear. There's a bit encouraging kids to find money-making activities, including the tiresome old trope of a lemonade stand. In these days of "health and safety", I don't think that would go very far. An okay sort of read. Three and a half stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Parsley

    I am a big fan of Streatfeild but this family had no redeeming features. Very saccharine writing. Ghastly...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katey Lovell

    As a child I loved Noel Streatfeild's most famous work Ballet Shoes. I had dreams of being a ballerina (which were never to materialise, although I did do a few dance exams) which were pretty much exclusively because of that book. Yet for some reason I never read any more of Streatfeild's books, until now. Vintage Classics published this edition of The Bell Family this spring. Originally a radio series in the 1950s, the Bell's are a typical post-war family struggling to make ends meet. They have As a child I loved Noel Streatfeild's most famous work Ballet Shoes. I had dreams of being a ballerina (which were never to materialise, although I did do a few dance exams) which were pretty much exclusively because of that book. Yet for some reason I never read any more of Streatfeild's books, until now. Vintage Classics published this edition of The Bell Family this spring. Originally a radio series in the 1950s, the Bell's are a typical post-war family struggling to make ends meet. They have to 'make do and mend', utilise hand me down's from the wealthier side of their family and look for ways to bring in extra money. There isn't much of a plot, but that really doesn't matter- it is very much character driven. Each of the children brings their own personality and charm to the book-Paul, the sensible eldest child, Jane who harbours dreams of attending ballet school, rash and mischievous Ginnie who is desperate to find her role in the family (I must admit to having a soft spot for her. She's a feisty, determined madam) and baby of the family Angus, who collects all manner of bugs in his quest to start his own zoo. Then there is Esau the dog, who the Bell's are convinced is the most beautiful dog in Britain. Mrs Gage, the housekeeper, has oodles of compassion and is a lovable addition to the character list. The relationships between the children are a heart warming reminder that being part of a family unit involves hard work and compromise, emphasised by the teamwork ethic which is a running theme throughout the book. As with any text of this age (it is 60 years this year since The Bell Family was first published) it contains words that are no longer in common usage. However, there is a useful glossary in the extra features, alongside detailed author facts, information about life in the 1950s and a quiz to find out which Bell child you most closely resemble. There are also beautiful line drawing illustrations by Shirley Hughes OBE, drawn in 1954, which compliment the story perfectly. I can't say how much I enjoyed this book which reflected on an era so different to the consumerist society we currently live in. It has similarities to classics such as The Railway Children, and I think The Bell Family deserves the same level of acclaim- it has been overlooked for far too long. I'm going to keep my copy, something I rarely do these days, because I know I will read it again in the future Vintage Classics has a diverse range of titles, and the quality of the books is second to none. They are good value for money and have modern covers to appeal to a young audience. The hardest part is choosing which of these timeless children's books to read next-although I must admit I'm very tempted by Emil and the Detectives.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    ***4.75 Stars*** Book review: This is heckin’ adorable. “The Bell Family” is a kids book written by Noel Streatfeild (author of “Ballet Shoes” and the other Shoes books that are mentioned in “You’ve Got Mail”). I absolutely loved this family and their story. The story follows a vicar’s delightful family and their adventures -and misadventures- for about a year. To provide context, “Ballet Shoes” is one of my favorite books of all time and this might now be my second favorite of hers. “The Bell Fa ***4.75 Stars*** Book review: This is heckin’ adorable. “The Bell Family” is a kids book written by Noel Streatfeild (author of “Ballet Shoes” and the other Shoes books that are mentioned in “You’ve Got Mail”). I absolutely loved this family and their story. The story follows a vicar’s delightful family and their adventures -and misadventures- for about a year. To provide context, “Ballet Shoes” is one of my favorite books of all time and this might now be my second favorite of hers. “The Bell Family” was originally a very popular radio program in England. She took those stories and adventures and novelized it. I thought some sentences were awkwardly phrased and I wonder if that happened because of how the story came to be written. And the story just sort of ends. There is a sequel, but I think it is out of print. (Also, this was originally published in the United States as “Family Shoes.”)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daylight

    I've been indulging in nostalgia rereading my Noel Streatfeild books that my mother read to me when I was very young and then sat on my bookshelf for decades. There is something wonderfully sweet, comfortable, and innocent about these books and they remind me of my childhood (Though it was nothing like is described in the books. I just read a lot of these sort of books when I was a kid) but I can't say much good about the actual writing. She uses almost all the same characters just with differen I've been indulging in nostalgia rereading my Noel Streatfeild books that my mother read to me when I was very young and then sat on my bookshelf for decades. There is something wonderfully sweet, comfortable, and innocent about these books and they remind me of my childhood (Though it was nothing like is described in the books. I just read a lot of these sort of books when I was a kid) but I can't say much good about the actual writing. She uses almost all the same characters just with different names throughout most of her books and some of the characters can be pretty annoying. The plots also tend to be very similar and this particular book barely had a plot at all. The author also seems to be terribly afraid about children becoming spoiled and lazy. This might just be a popular idea of the time. A lot of the old fashioned ideas in the books tend to grate a bit, and some things like her need to point out which girl is pretty and which is ugly bugged me. Though it was nice escaping into these books, there are other much more interesting and better written books about children from this time period in England that I can get the same sort of nostalgia from so I won't be reading these again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    It's always nice to acquire and read another Noel Streatfeild, and this is a nice edition with a brief biography and glossary in the back, intended for modern children who don't know much about the 1950s. This particular novel is a little unusual in that it started out as a series of radio plays. It features the Bell family, who bear several striking resemblances to the author's own family, as portrayed in her autobiography 'The Vicarage Family'. As ever, there are some talented children: Paul w It's always nice to acquire and read another Noel Streatfeild, and this is a nice edition with a brief biography and glossary in the back, intended for modern children who don't know much about the 1950s. This particular novel is a little unusual in that it started out as a series of radio plays. It features the Bell family, who bear several striking resemblances to the author's own family, as portrayed in her autobiography 'The Vicarage Family'. As ever, there are some talented children: Paul who is highly academic and want to be a doctor, Jane who loves ballet, and Angus who sings well enough to have a place at a choir school but really doesn't want to sing. And then there's Ginnie, who is probably the one closest to Noel Streatfeild in character - kind-hearted but impulsive, bright but rebellious. The book is a series of incidents through the year, showing the family contrasted with their rich and materialistic relatives, covering day-to-day problems and stresses, and seeing the children make some important decisions. It's far from the best of Noel Streatfeild's work, but it's very readable and I'm pleased to have this in my collection at last.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    What a delightful book. I have read Noel Streatfeild before but this was a new one for me, and it was totally delightful. The story which is set in 1950's SE London, is of the Bell family. Father: Reverend Alex Bell. Kind and conscientious of his parish and family duties. Mother: Cathy, Sweet woman trying bravely to make ends meet on a vicar's income. Eldest: Paul. Intelligent caring young man wants to be a doctor. Next Eldest: Jane. Pretty one of the family with a talent and desire to be a ballet What a delightful book. I have read Noel Streatfeild before but this was a new one for me, and it was totally delightful. The story which is set in 1950's SE London, is of the Bell family. Father: Reverend Alex Bell. Kind and conscientious of his parish and family duties. Mother: Cathy, Sweet woman trying bravely to make ends meet on a vicar's income. Eldest: Paul. Intelligent caring young man wants to be a doctor. Next Eldest: Jane. Pretty one of the family with a talent and desire to be a ballet dancer. (of course, this is Noel Streatfeild after all). Third eldest: Ginnie (Virginia). The somewhat outspoken plain one of the family who is quite hilarious at times with her faux pas. Youngest: Angus, likes all things animal and sings in the choir. Mrs Gage; down to earth general help for the family and as big hearted as she is capable. And the cocker spaniel dog: Esau. I loved this family. More I will not say but that this is one I would like to get for my library.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Turrean

    The four star review must be entirely without reference to any other work besides others by the same author! I've read this so many times since I was child; I'm completely incapable of giving it an unbiased rating. Yes, Streatfeild's stories are very similar, as are her characters. I suppose the cozy tone may grate on the nerves. But I've always loved how the author made her adults point-of-view characters alongside the children, and even referred to them by first name. The children's career asp The four star review must be entirely without reference to any other work besides others by the same author! I've read this so many times since I was child; I'm completely incapable of giving it an unbiased rating. Yes, Streatfeild's stories are very similar, as are her characters. I suppose the cozy tone may grate on the nerves. But I've always loved how the author made her adults point-of-view characters alongside the children, and even referred to them by first name. The children's career aspirations are fascinating, too. I wish all her other novels would be released in eBook form, too. I,own this one as an ebook, published as "The Bell Family."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robin Stevens

    Utterly adorable. It's incredibly dated, of course, but that in no way diminishes its appeal. It's always a good sign when I think to myself 'if X or Y does not happen to a character I am LITERALLY (not literally) going to SET MYSELF ON FIRE'. While I was reading this book I knew with utter certainty that if Jane didn't get to go to ballet school or Paul gave up his dream of becoming a doctor I was going to LITERALLY (not literally) SET MYSELF ON FIRE. Good thing everything always turns out OK i Utterly adorable. It's incredibly dated, of course, but that in no way diminishes its appeal. It's always a good sign when I think to myself 'if X or Y does not happen to a character I am LITERALLY (not literally) going to SET MYSELF ON FIRE'. While I was reading this book I knew with utter certainty that if Jane didn't get to go to ballet school or Paul gave up his dream of becoming a doctor I was going to LITERALLY (not literally) SET MYSELF ON FIRE. Good thing everything always turns out OK in the end in a Noel Streatfeild book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aishika Mitra

    It was a nice book. A very fast paced book. We get to know about the poorer side of London and how hard it can be to manage a family and still be happy when you can break at any point. We get many colourful characters which are very different from each other. Along the read you feel happy and sad with the ongoing events. It will a really nice read for a kid thought they may find it not to relevant because of their fast life. A nice read to start the year. The edition by Vintage is really good an It was a nice book. A very fast paced book. We get to know about the poorer side of London and how hard it can be to manage a family and still be happy when you can break at any point. We get many colourful characters which are very different from each other. Along the read you feel happy and sad with the ongoing events. It will a really nice read for a kid thought they may find it not to relevant because of their fast life. A nice read to start the year. The edition by Vintage is really good and beautiful and I love the snippets they include in the end.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Noel Streatfield is always good for a bit of comfort reading and escapism, but for me this book didn't come close to Ballet Shoes or White Boots. She does tend to recycle her characters from book to book, and I didn't find a single character here who wasn't instantly recognisable from at least one other Streatfield. It was also very episodic - probably not a surprise as I think the book came after the radio series of the same name - but I never really felt I could get into the story the way I wa Noel Streatfield is always good for a bit of comfort reading and escapism, but for me this book didn't come close to Ballet Shoes or White Boots. She does tend to recycle her characters from book to book, and I didn't find a single character here who wasn't instantly recognisable from at least one other Streatfield. It was also very episodic - probably not a surprise as I think the book came after the radio series of the same name - but I never really felt I could get into the story the way I wanted to.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I liked this one quite a bit...not as much as "Ballet Shoes", but quite alot. :) Though, I have to say, I didn't care for Ginnie, the 2nd girl. I normally like the high-spirited children, who do get into trouble. They seem more realistic to me. But Ginnie went beyond. She was a perfect brat, in my opinion. Not at all sorry when she did wrong, and even thinking she was in the right, and she was being treated unfairly. Made me want to give her a good long shake. lol. But Jane I did love. :) I liked this one quite a bit...not as much as "Ballet Shoes", but quite alot. :) Though, I have to say, I didn't care for Ginnie, the 2nd girl. I normally like the high-spirited children, who do get into trouble. They seem more realistic to me. But Ginnie went beyond. She was a perfect brat, in my opinion. Not at all sorry when she did wrong, and even thinking she was in the right, and she was being treated unfairly. Made me want to give her a good long shake. lol. But Jane I did love. :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Scott

    Slightly different than most of Noel Streatfeild's books for children. This family actually has both parents living at home with them and the entire family is not caught up in the entertainment industry. But a lot of the other familial Streatfeild theme's are there: dealing with poverty, children trying to help out their family by earning money, secrets or half-truths causing havoc and misunderstandings. Another solid Streatfeild story to share with my daughter. Slightly different than most of Noel Streatfeild's books for children. This family actually has both parents living at home with them and the entire family is not caught up in the entertainment industry. But a lot of the other familial Streatfeild theme's are there: dealing with poverty, children trying to help out their family by earning money, secrets or half-truths causing havoc and misunderstandings. Another solid Streatfeild story to share with my daughter.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    This was enjoyable for all the usual reasons in a Streatfeild novel. Perhaps the only shock was the Sister Who Dances did not force her way into an audition, as so many other characters have done. It's nice to read a book without a major issue. The story unfolds chapter after chapter about the family, and nothing traumatic happens and the Bells are kind and pleasant people. The End. This was enjoyable for all the usual reasons in a Streatfeild novel. Perhaps the only shock was the Sister Who Dances did not force her way into an audition, as so many other characters have done. It's nice to read a book without a major issue. The story unfolds chapter after chapter about the family, and nothing traumatic happens and the Bells are kind and pleasant people. The End.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kate H

    I have always loved Noel Streatfeild's books and as a child I got my library to ILL them for me or hunted through second hand book stores to find all of them. She tells the perfect "girls stories". I was always able to find one character in each book that was my favorite. They definitely stand up to re-reads. I have always loved Noel Streatfeild's books and as a child I got my library to ILL them for me or hunted through second hand book stores to find all of them. She tells the perfect "girls stories". I was always able to find one character in each book that was my favorite. They definitely stand up to re-reads.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Typical of Streatfeild, the roles of good and evil are clearly defined. The minister's family featured here are strapped for cash and the children are impossibly angelic. Nonetheless, it was an absorbing read. Typical of Streatfeild, the roles of good and evil are clearly defined. The minister's family featured here are strapped for cash and the children are impossibly angelic. Nonetheless, it was an absorbing read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fi

    The Bell Family were far posher than our family; I was fascinated at the thought of having a maid, and didn't have a clue what brawn was - but I enjoyed the book so much that I read it umpteen times. The Bell Family were far posher than our family; I was fascinated at the thought of having a maid, and didn't have a clue what brawn was - but I enjoyed the book so much that I read it umpteen times.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    quite pleasant. a rose tinted view of an English parish family and their community. Very proper & twee. the narrative tends to overlap without proper pauses. a very sweet keep calm and carry on tale of happily ever after!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anindita Satpathi

    It's quite a delightful story, one I would have adored in its entirety if I was younger. It's not as lovely as Ballet Shoes though it's refreshing to find characters who are well-fleshed out stereotypes. It's quite a delightful story, one I would have adored in its entirety if I was younger. It's not as lovely as Ballet Shoes though it's refreshing to find characters who are well-fleshed out stereotypes.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maureen E

    Unfortunately, nowhere near as charming as her more well known books. One of the characters drove me up a wall–and I think I was supposed to be sympathetic to her. [Feb. 2010]

  27. 4 out of 5

    Moppet

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44...# http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44...#

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ruth E. R.

    That friend of mine gave this to me for my birthday, probably my 13th.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tina Wilson

    Read this one aloud with Brooke. Definitely a slow read as it is character driven rather than plot driven. We enjoyed spending time with the family in the book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Madge

    Despite the contrast depicted between good (Cathy, Jane, Alex, etc.) and bad (Veronica, Alfred, and Rose) characters, the former came across as rather self-absorbed and annoying as well, especially Cathy, Jane, and Angus. The topics harped upon the most were money (the lack thereof) and a social inferiority complex (relations); and whilst I understand these are relatable matters one can empathise with, the tone jarred with, what could have been, my complete enjoyment of the book. "The Bell Family Despite the contrast depicted between good (Cathy, Jane, Alex, etc.) and bad (Veronica, Alfred, and Rose) characters, the former came across as rather self-absorbed and annoying as well, especially Cathy, Jane, and Angus. The topics harped upon the most were money (the lack thereof) and a social inferiority complex (relations); and whilst I understand these are relatable matters one can empathise with, the tone jarred with, what could have been, my complete enjoyment of the book. "The Bell Family" is meant to be a heartwarming story, and it is–thanks to Mrs. Gage, Miss Newton, Esau, Miss Bloggs, and the occasional comical antics of Miss Virginia Bell. NB: Desired to give 3.5/5 stars upon completion; decided 3/5 to be more suited to my thoughts on the book.

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