The Week Before Christmas by Freda C Bond is the second of four books about the Carol family, which I mentioned briefly here. The cover and black & white drawings are by Mays, who illustrated Noel Streatfeild’s Curtain Up and many of the Jennings books.

The four Carol children live with their parents in a smart London flat, with ‘Posset’ as they call her, coming in every day to do the work. How agreeable. At the start of the Christmas holidays the younger children, Squibs and Tony, fear that things will be dull until Christmas. Instead, in the week of the title they find themselves hunting for their mother’s stolen ring, tracking a missing child, getting on the trail of turkey rustlers and befriending a nice refugee family. Tony’s life is busy as he has a good singing voice and is very involved with the local church choir. He takes religion seriously as does older sister Susan, who goes to a boarding school run by Anglican nuns. You can tell what sort of girl she is when she takes a liking to a girl they meet, thinking, ‘I bet she’d make a wizard prefect.’ Lawrence is also at boarding school and turning into a languid, arrogant public schoolboy. At home with his family he becomes quite human and as keen on adventures and planning a Christmas charade as the rest of them.

From the jacket blurb: What we especially like about Freda Bond’s books is that they are happy stories about real-life people, who manage to have adventures in their everyday comings and goings. Her children and grown-ups alike are lovable and natural – the sort of folk who might live next door to you. If your neighbour happened to be a famous actress, that is. As far as I’m concerned, the Carols need never have any adventures at all; I like just to read about their daily lives in post-war London.
Angela Thirkell and more )

I posted last week about how pleased I was to have acquired the third book in a trilogy. It was the last in a series of books by Freda C Bond, about the Lancaster family. Here’s the first, The End House. I spotted it years ago in a second hand bookshop. I knew nothing about the author but it took my fancy and I was right, I liked it a lot. Mrs Lancaster has been widowed while only in her forties and with six children to bring up. The family has to leave a large house in the country, move to a much smaller one in a town and give up the cars, maids and gardener. ‘Poor’ is a relative term for them, as is usual with books of this type. Faithful Bridget goes with them to cook and clean, there’s no trouble affording paint and curtains for the new house and those children still at private schools stay there, if not for long. Nevertheless, there are problems ahead.

The book was published in 1943 but is set in 1937/8, so no war yet. There are four girls: June, the artistic, selfish one who doesn’t pull her weight at home; Alison the domesticated home-lover; Rosemary, sporty and fun but not obviously talented; nice, practical Susan, who loves gardening. For light relief there are the much younger twin boys Nicky and Dick and later in the story, a Siamese cat. How the family copes with changed circumstances and the older girls find jobs makes for an interesting story, with a camping holiday as part of a travelling theatre run by their cousins thrown in. I love to have original dustwrappers on these old books. The back of this one features the latest Lone Pine books by Malcolm Saville. Hardly the same market, I’d have thought, as The End House is definitely a book for older girls, like Jam Tomorrow or Gwendoline Courtney’s books. more Lancasters )



January 2017



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