Fans of children’s literature may be familiar with Noel Streatfeild’s “shoe” books. I first heard about them in the movie, You've Got Mail when Meg Ryan spells Streatfeild’s name while sitting in the children’s department of Fox Books. As a result of the film, I obtained and enjoyed Ballet Shoes. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for more of her books, especially the one about growing up as the daughter of an English vicar.
Through interlibrary loan, I was finally able to obtain A Vicarage Family. Though written in the same form as her other children’s novels, the book is clearly autobiographical. In the introduction Streatfeild informs the reader that she is Vicky in the story. The book honestly tells of her struggles to fit into a family where the other siblings are more studious and compliant. She is even frank about the friction between herself and her mother. Although her father is loving, he, too, has a way of making her feel that she’ll never measure up. The adults in the book clearly look forward to the day when she will finally grow up.
The ending of the book has her doing just that, which is probably the book’s only down side. Something very sad happens in her life to bring her to maturity and although it probably really happened, I wished for more of a storybook ending.
I will continue to keep my eyes open for Streatfeild’s books.