Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Family Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild

Family Shoes by Noel Streatfeild is a feast to be enjoyed. Unfortunately it is also out of print but as the Shoe Books by Streatfeild are coming back into vogue, hopefully this one will see a reprint in the very near future.

I first made acquaintance with these books in the movie You've Got Mail with Megan Ryan in which she is talking about these beloved classics from her childhood. I then promptly forgot about them until Sarah at Library Hospital found Ballet Shoes and reviewed it. A few weeks ago I was browsing through the books at our local Goodwill and found Family Shoes for $0.99 and not being able to resist that price, I snatched it up. I will be forever glad that I did.

This book tells the story of Reverend Bell and his family. They occupy a less classy part of London and live in an old, falling apart vicarage. They have very little money, although Reverend Bell's father and family are positively loaded. Old grandfather had vowed long ago never to give his son, the Reverend Bell, a dime of his money since he felt defied when it was first announced that he would be going to seminary. Reverend Bell and his wife, Cathy, do not have much in the way of money to offer their four children but they do have heaps of love and a ready sense of humor. Streatfeild describes in this book a family who love to love each other and are fiercly loyal and independent. At the same time, Streatfield throws this family at the mercy of a variety of flubs and social faux paux which make you laugh and cheer with the family as they journey on with their lives.

Quite simply, I loved this book. I loved the simplicity of it and yet the richness of character. Each family member was delightfully unique with a personality you could identify with in some form or fashion. Since it was originally published in 1954 it also is a clean read and leaves you free to enjoy it for what it is without having to weed out anything unnecessary. Another selling point is that it tells the story of four siblings - two boys and two girls - making it more identifiable for all readers and a great family read aloud.

I would absolutely love to read the rest of this series. It looks as if only a few titles are back in print (such as Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Theater Shoes, and Party Shoes (Oxford Children's Classics)) and I look forward to collecting them all!

If you can find a copy of any books from this series - grab them! I think you'll be happy with them.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE You've Got Mail (how can I resist a movie with such a tender reference to Anne in it?) and I've always wanted to hunt down these Streatfield books. Thanks for the good review!

Charlotte said...

There's a direct sequel to Family Shoes (aka the Bell Family), called New Shoes, which I like even better!

Stephanie said...

I've not read any of these books, and I keep forgetting to look for them. Thanks for the reminder!

Stephanie Kay said...

"F.O.X." ;) Sounds like some more cute books.

hopeinbrazil said...

Yep, I looked up Streatfield after watching You've Got Mail. I liked Ballet Shoes, but didn't know about this one. This one sounds even more interesting to me because my dad was a pastor.

Lisa Spence said...

You've Got Mail has always made me intrigued about the shoe books...and now I'm intrigued even more! I'm like Stephanie; I always forget to look. (oh, for a good used bookstore to peruse...)

Unknown said...

That movie was just on TV again and it made me think of the books. I've not read any of them, but I trust your good review.

Okay, seriously, how many hours a day do you read?? I feel like I've been reading a LOT lately, but I still am not logging in near the number of pages you do -- I don't know, maybe recently I have been. I have read quite a few hundred pages in the past few days.

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