Sunday, 17 April 2011

I have recently re-read

two books by Violet Needham. The reason for this is that I have been helping a children's literature student with a project. I read Violet Needham as a child. They did not seem quite so old-fashioned then and I suppose I found them vaguely exciting. Now they seem much more predictable. In "The Secret of the White Peacock" and "The Red Rose of Ruvina" the characters are not particularly well formed. The plots are weak. The conversation is stilted. I wonder what it would be like to go back to the first of the series, from memory "The Black Riders". Would it be any better? Did Needham's books improve or did they disintegrate? Her Ruritania seems to be set in some sort of vaguely not quite Eastern European country, not quite Austria or the Balkans but thereabouts. They are also seem to be oddly Victorian while still mentioning cars, trains, telephones and even 'planes. Her girls get educated at home or her boys get tutored because they have been ill. They also have to be pretty much self-sufficient at entertaining themselves. There are adults in the books but, by showing some of them as disinterested, cruel, greedy and disloyal, Needham manages to distance them from the children and allow the children to succeed fairly much alone. Nevertheless adults also get much greater attention than is usual in books for children, especially Ruritanian type adventures. It is the role of adults that concerns the current student. So, which adults do you remember in books from your childhood?

3 comments:

Ann Best said...

That was such a long time ago! LOL

I'd say the adults in Anne of Green Gables. Maybe tomorrow I might think of some more!

When I read Nancy Drew again, decades and decades later, I thought, Boring. But I liked them when I was 12!

Interesting post that got me thinking back...

Anonymous said...

The adults in L'Engle's "The Young Unicorns" - that book sort of breaks the rules. The adults are there almost all the time. Ros

Eric Schonblom said...

Can I recommend three older books by Constance Savery (1897-1999) in which a child protagonist is in conflict with an adult brother? Enemy Brothers (1943) and Emeralds for the King (1945) tell engaging stories, and it is sad that Emeralds is only available as an expensive used book. Persons who do not object to a overtly Christian context will also enjoy Blue Fields (1947).