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The Painted Garden Wonderful read and very unexpected too I'd forgotten just how great her other books are and I'm so glad I gave this a chance The writing is sweet and warm and the children's adventures are full of wonder The Christmas scenes in particular really moved me and the beginning of the book about the family's first steps in America is hilarious I enjoyed this very very much and I can't wait to read and reread of her work In this story the Winter family moves from England to the US for six months so that the father can recover from an accident in the nice southern California weather Coming from war ravaged London where food is still rationed even though the war WWII has been over for a couple of years the Winters bask in the sunshine and the unlimited fruit and butterThe eldest child Rachel is a ballet dancer at Madame Fidolia's school of course and the youngest Tim is a talented pianist Jane the ornery middle child has never shone at anything and is even the plainest of the three When she gets the chance to play Mary in a movie of The Secret Garden she hopes that she will be the important Winter for once But because the famous Posy Fossil arranges ballet lessons for Rachel and Tim finds a way to earn money playing the piano Jane doesn't become uite the star of her family that she had hopedAuthorNoel Streatfeild has a keen perception of children or at least it seems so to me as I do not She captures vividly their ambitions their irritations their varied relations with their families Even if no one else understands the difficult Jane Streatfeild does and she makes her likableBut of course she is known most for her focus on the performing arts My first introduction to ballet was probably Ballet Shoes And everything I know about The Blue Bird is definitely from that book In addition to dance and theatre Streatfeild incorporates literature into her books Movie Shoes is all about The Secret Garden Jane has read the book several times before being cast as Mary and I agree with her ideas about Mary's character It's great when the director tells her something he wants her to do and she protests futilely But Mary wouldn't do thatHow much I enjoy the Shoe books Because only three Ballet Shoes Dancing Shoes and Theatre Shoes are in print in the US I've had to collect the others from used book sales and a trip to Scotland Movie Shoes was a happy find at a book sale a couple of months ago This felt like a slightly different Streatfeild book Of course it's also I think the first one I've read for the first time as an adult But mostly it's that it's about the untalented sibling And unlike characters like Petrova she is not happy being untalented Which I thought was very realistic She's written with sympathy but the narrative still make it clear the poor girl isn't that talented despite the movie roleAnyway it just felt a little less fun I guess But you get to see adult Fossils And I liked Rachel She has a uiet kind of journey I like Tim too but I guess he felt less distinct I guess Streatfeild's boys have never stuck out to me muchBut I am sad the book ended view spoilerbefore Jane and Chewing Gum's reunion hide spoiler Better known as Movie Shoes this story follows the three Winter children from their London home to the shores of Santa Monica in order for their father to recuperate from a nervous breakdown in the warm climate of his sister’s home Like in Ballet Shoes a favorite of mine as a girl the youngest and the eldest children hold the recognizable talent and looks in the family and the middle child is prickly and difficultThe story opens with Tim Jane and Rachel eavesdropping on the doctor’s conversation with their mother trying desperately to learn if their father will ever recover from the shock of accidentally killing a child who runs in front of his car The doctor’s advice of sending him to a sunny climate for the winter holds little hope but a letter is sent to the children’s aunt who has lived in California for many years A positive response from her — inviting the whole family to visit — and a surprise inheritance for their mother’s friend and the children’s nanny to fund the trip set the stage for an international adventureFirst there’s travel — on trains and an ocean liner; then there are the cultural differences And then when they reach California they find their aunt is unbearable prone to taking to bed with nerves and sick headaches and unwilling to share much beyond room and board which the adults agree is still terribly generous of her Plus she seems to stand in the way — intentionally or otherwise — of what each child wants most out of the California trip for Rachel a chance to meet with the famed Posy Fossil and to take dance lessons; for Jane a friendly dog to hang out with; and for Tim a piano upon which to practiceLuckily what the children seem to learn in America is that generally its inhabitants are friendly and inclined to help you out Posy tracks Rachel down gets her an audition and takes her under her wing; Aunt Cora’s cook Bella helps Tim track down a piano upon which to practice and generally counsels him to keep a positive outlook on things; and Jane encounters a sympathetic dog owner who also happens to be a director about to film The Secret Garden but whose star suddenly became unavailable The family’s six months in the US offers up wild adventures — but will these be enough in the end to keep them on this side of the Atlantic?A couple notes One I bought my copy second hand and all but the first page of Chapter 16 is missing Two I believe I own this book back at my folks’ as Movie Shoes but was lured into buying it again because of the title difference For what it’s worth Movie Shoes is the later American title It was totally the mention of the return of the Fossil sisters that grabbed me and made me buy it Three in looking into the title uestion I have learned that this is a revised and abridged version of the book I had been surprised by how casually they worked food parcels into the story Had I not readwatched 84 Charing Cross Road I certainly wouldn’t have realized how long food shortages and rationing went on in England and recognized the reference Apparently some of the other things they cut referred to similar bits of British post World War II restrictionsAlthough the book wasn’t nearly as good as I remember it being nor as good as Ballet Shoes remains it was still an enjoyable read I’d recommend it to those who an enjoy a Pollyanna type ending to their stories The very worst Streatfield I have ever read None of the characters is remotely sympathetic and I didn't feel at all empathetic with any of the three self involved children Tim was obnoxious Rachel oblivious and Jane flat down unpleasant Their parents just kind of hang around waving their hands admiringly and saying Well honey if that's what you want to do go for it The Americans are cardboard did Streatfield ever visit America? with stupid made up sounding names like Sneltzworther and seriously Bee Bee Studios? Streatfield certainly wasn't trying very hard I found it very hard to believe that even in 1949 an American child actress in Hollywood would go around curtseying to guests at her own party Shaking hands yes being polite certainly but not curtseying But then Streatfield has a thing about curtseying in her dancing storiesPosy Fossil makes a reprise performance from an earlier book as I thought going to Czechoslovakia in 1938 didn't work out though we are never told how she and her dancing master made it to the US before WW2 But even she and her entourage are background I trudged to the end willing it to be over just to see if Streatfield could redeem this thing She couldn't The ending was tacked on just to sweep the family back to England loaded down with presents and satisfying éclat having got what they wanted money and a free vacation I guess The final scene with the train had me rolling my eyesIf you haven't read any of Streatfield's Shoe books don't start here If I had it would have put me off her for life Maybe that's why the author worked in so much about The Secret Garden maybe she knew it wasn't very good so she tried to ride on a better book's coattail This was probably my least favorite Shoes book growing up because Jane is a difficult character to read about This is a Streatfield novel so the story starts with uite a set of coincidences her father is ill and the doctor says he must get out of England for the winter; his sister lives in Santa Monica; Jane is wandering around Santa Monica when she finds a lost dog whose owner is a movie producer looking for a Mary for his The Secret Garden Jane gets the part because she's British and emphatic Jane's a hard character Her sister is a talented dancer and her brother is a talented pianist She's the middle untalented child and the plainest one too Streatfield has characters like that but they usually aren't given a story Here Jane is and it's both compelling and disturbing I'm not going to take away from the fact that Jane is very difficult because she is and very realistically so but her parents' behavior is shocking Which was a new discovery for me on this reread Bee is embarrassed of her and John is entertained by her and neither try to parent at all Mrs Doe who's in the book for three pages a is a better listener and b gives excellent practical advice which c demonstrates understanding of Jane than her parents ever show And then there's Dr Smith and even Jane's Mr Browne who both relate to Jane through her dog again than Bee and John do Movie Shoes ends up being a story likely inadvertently of an enchanted California interlude Of a child who's the odd one out and who makes her own luck through sheer force of will and who's going back to her odd man out life in England where her best friend is her dog Outside the confines of this book the story is pretty miserable Life is tough for the Winter family in London with little money and Dad out of work Luckily Aunt Cora comes to the rescue with an invitation to live in California From that moment on talented Rachel and Tim dream of stardom in America The family couldn't be surprised when a movie producer picks plain peevish Jane for the lead part of Mary in The Secret Garden No one's ever noticed Jane before Could this be the chance of a lifetime A typical Streatfeild family feature in this book a gifted ballet dancer a talented musician and an irritable un artistic middle child The family have the chance to spend the winter with a relative in California and the middle child gets a chance to shine Family dynamics push this book forward; a lovely gentle read with humour and moving moments Most of the story takes place in California with some mildly amusing scenes as they try to adjust to American culture and language and discover that children are expected to earn pocket money rather than being given it by parents One of the things I particularly like about this book is a side story about two of the sisters from Streatfield’s classic ‘Ballet Shoes’ I also enjoyed the children’s gradual changes in outlook and motivation and the way they come to love their new environment and the people around them There are caricatures amongst the minor characters but I don’t see that as a problemI very much enjoyed re reading this and would recommend it to anyone who likes children’s fiction of this kind During the summer I was eight I chose this for the plane ride to my grandparents' And even though we went to the library at least twice a week I read it over and over again Not only does Streatfeild give the perfect shout out to The Secret Garden she brings back the Fossils I still get excited when Rachel has lunch with Posy and PaulineAunt Cora is one of my favorite Streatfeild characters She's so selfish and whiny and her type doesn't really appear in any of the other Shoes books I didn't know Good King Wenceslas when I was eight so it was only later that I appreciated the California Here I Come scene I enjoy trying and failing to picture myself as a modern day Peaseblossom The painted garden is a heartwarming book and was recommended to me by my mother It can occasionally be dry and boring but is normally engaging It explores the theme of self discovery It is about the Winter family mainly the middle child crabby Jane and their adventures during their trip to America

  • Paperback
  • The Painted Garden
  • Noel Streatfeild
  • English
  • 13 March 2016
  • 9780007100200

About the Author: Noel Streatfeild

Mary Noel Streatfeild known as Noel Streatfeild was an author best known and loved for her children's books including Ballet Shoes and Circus Shoes She was born on Christmas Eve 1895 the daughter of William Champion Streatfeild and Janet Venn and the second of six children to be born to the couple Sister Ruth was the oldest after Noel came Barbara William 'Bill' Joyce who died of TB p