The one book I did manage to read amid enjoying 5* hotel luxury this weekend was Poppies for England by Susan Scarlett (aka Noel Streatfeild). I had been longing to read this for sometime and it certainly lived up to expectations. I read Noel Streatfeild as a child, and I've read some of her adult books (in fact, Saplings has been republished by Persephone), and the lovely thing about this book was that it felt like it was halfway between the children's books and adult novels. Streatfeild 12 "romances" under the name Susan Scarlett, and was apparently very dismissive of them, but I hugely enjoyed this light read in the style of her children's stories.
Set in 1946, in the immediate post-war period, it deals with the problems of rebuilding lives and families on the return to "normal" life, whilst many of the wartime restrictions are still in place. It tells the story of two families who are struggling with this, and who are eventually helped to overcome their tribulations as they are invited to form a concert party at a holiday camp, providing a sort of variety show of music and dance each evening. As with all of Streatfeild's books the characters are beautifully drawn and you really come to care about them and their lives and what will happen to them - it makes fien use of Streatfield's knowledge of the theatrical world.
I have just discovered this wonderful website about Streatfield - if you are a fan like me, then there is a lot of interesting information. It has reminded me that I would love to own, or at least re-read, Angela Bull's biography of her.
Poppies for England certainly falls within the category of forgotten literature. It has recently been republished by Greyladies, an Edinburgh based bookshop who are republishing "Girls’ School Stories - written for adults, Adult books by children’s authors and A spot of vintage crime". I own all of their republications, and am determined not to let them languish on the TBRBC for too long. Hopefully more reviews of their other books soon.
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