Saplings by Noel Streatfeild

 Saplings cover

Saplings by Noel Streatfeild was first published by Collins in 1945 but it was republished by Persephone Books in 2002.

I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few of Noel Streatfeild’s books for children (of all ages) but this one is aimed at adults, however, the children are to the fore. Streatfeild certainly had the knack of getting inside the skin of young people, and it’s really their experiences that feature most in the book. The Wiltshires are a well-off upper middle class family living in Regent’s Park, London and this book is about how World War 2 impacts on them all.

Lena and Alex are the parents of the four Wiltshire children and as the war progresses and bombs start to fall in London it’s decided that they should move the children to the countryside to live with their father’s parents. It’s explained almost from the beginning that Lena has always put her husband Alex first, she never wanted to be engulfed in motherhood I suppose, the children’s governess/nurse is amused by Lena’s obvious sexual needs. Alex is frankly getting worn out as the bombs fall.

“Lena liked her children prettily dressed, good-mannered and well tended, but when she was about she liked those who saw to these things to be as inconspicuous as possible.”

When disaster hits the family everything begins to fall apart, no doubt their experiences were echoed in some way throughout the country in many families.

I enjoyed this one but I found it to be quite a sad read, possibly what is going on in the world at the moment made it all the more so.