The Family From One End Street
The story of everyday life in the big, happy Ruggles family who live in the small town of Otwell. Father is a dustman and Mother a washerwoman. Then there's all the children - practical Lily Rose, clever Kate, mischievous twins James and John, followed by Jo, who loves films, little Peg and finally baby William.
Reviewed on 25th February 2023
I recently read the biography of Terry Pratchett, in which it’s mentioned that as a young child he enjoyed reading Eve Garnett’s tale of a large working class family. And I remembered enjoying it, I imagine when read to me by my mum, as a small child (it was certainly her choice of a book she had known as a child - possibly even then her own original copy).
And so a second-hand 1975 copy very quickly made its way to my shelves, and then, once I’d finished the biography, into my hands and eyes.
The book remains delightful - there is surprisingly little to age it (although I realise it’s possible that between the 30s and 70s some editing might have gone on) in the style of language or the usual problems that early 20th century texts have. Perhaps there’s an element of sexism in the level of agency the boys control in their adventures, compared to those the girls experience.
But the book does, as I understand it sets out to, paint a picture of what working class life was like at the time - the professions and hardships of the parents, the daily happenings for the children, the cultural references, the challenges to overcome, and particularly the relationships with people of other classes.
I’ve very happily revisited this book - and have also obtained the two sequels, only one of which I read as a child.