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Noel Streatfield - Gemma (1968)

I picked this up to throw out - probably straight to bin as condition is too poor for a charity shop and there are recent editions available. But stopped for a nostalgic read on the way.

Film-star Gemma Bow is abandoned by her mother, who has gone to the US to make films and sends presents and letters but never visits, and is sent to live with nice cousins in the provinces. She adapts pretty well, considering.

The main thing that strikes me is the similarity of life for a family with talented children then and and now. The week revolves round the children's doings: homework, music, dancing, the school pageant. The local comprehensive school is quite recognisable: random class numbering, house points, after school activities, difficulty fitting everything in and all. Father is dealing with loss of career and status. Mother is valued but overworked. The family is improbably nice as well as talented. Unlike real life, however, a good time and a happy ending is had by all.

Noel Streatfield is a clear precursor to Jacqueline Wilson.

I enjoyed my hour in Gemma and the Robinson's company, but I am still throwing the book out and will not be looking for its sequels. Its time is past.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
25th Feb, 2015 11:37 (UTC)
Gemma & its sequels were my absolute favourite Noel Streatfield novels, for all that the general perception is that these are amongst the weakest of her books. I haven't re-read them as an adult because I'm worried they won't bear up well.
25th Feb, 2015 14:56 (UTC)
I have all the sequels if you would like to borrow them sometime. Provided my boxes of books that will be delivered on Friday are actually delivered on Friday and all boxes are complete and intact. I am a little worried about this given the condition of the boxes of not-books that I had shipped last year.
25th Feb, 2015 15:59 (UTC)
It's years since I read that! I remember the Gemma books as being rather lighter weight than her others -- the family had fewer financial issues and the children were less anxious about working as a result.
26th Feb, 2015 07:15 (UTC)
Just because I have a name that gets misspelled sometimes: Noel Streatfeild. Weird, but so.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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