The Dolls’ House by Rumer Godden

 The Dolls' House  cover

The Dolls’ House by Rumer Godden was first published in 1947 and it was the first book that she had written for children, but my copy is from 1963 and it has some lovely illustrations by Tasha Tudor.

The setting is just after the end of World War 2, when there was a chronic shortage of toys, and the dolls which belong to Charlotte and Emily Dane are having to live in draughty shoe boxes. They dream of living in a proper dolls’ house, especially Mr Plantaganet the father of the family of dolls.

They’re quite a mixed bunch of dolls, some broken and drawn on and Mr Plantaganet has had to put up with the most abuse over the years. He had been a Scottish doll originally, but years ago a child had ripped his bagpipes off him, causing damage. Tottie is the cheapest doll, she is a tiny wooden farthing doll (you got four of them for a penny) and she is the oldest of them and can tell them all of the original owners who were great-aunts of their Emily and Charlotte.

When there’s a death within the extended Dane family there’s the inevitable house clear out and Mr Plantaganet’s wishes come true as Emily and Charlotte are given an old dolls’ house which had been languishing unloved for generations in an attic. The girls set to work and make the house fit for the dolls, everything is wonderful until a very conceited doll arrives from a specialist cleaners, her name is Marchpane and she upsets everything and everyone. She thinks she is above everyone else as she’s made of kid leather and china.

This is a lovely tale which was obviously written to teach children what are the important things in life. There are quite a few adults who could learn a thing or two from it!

I love the cover of this book with its beautiful Georgian house, which even has a dog kennel for the toy dog in the story.