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Family Roundabout

by Richmal Crompton
Persephone book no:

23 24 25

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The Far Cry
A Well Full of Leaves
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ISBN 9781903155134

Richmal Crompton created William, the pugnacious anti-hero of thirty books selling over 8 million copies in her lifetime. We publish the best of her forty novels for adults, a 1948 book about the life of two families during the inter-war years. Instead of seeing William at odds with adults, we are shown the matriarchs around whom their families spin; but whether they direct their children gently or forcefully, in the end they have to accept them as they are.

We see that families can both entrap and sustain; that parents and children must respect each other; and that happiness necessitates jumping or being pushed off the family roundabout. Richmal Crompton describes two opposing ways of parenting and in the end leaves the reader to decide which method is most successful. This is quite a sardonic book, certainly it is not anodyne, and the reader is led to conclude that neither Mrs Fowler nor Mrs Willoughby have spun the roundabout quite as they should. 


An example of 1940s 'peasant-art' style, the fabric shows prancing roundabout horses on a striped background; the faded pink is typical of the period (Mrs Fowler, one of the matriarchs, is especially fond of her 'faded cretonnes').

Picture Caption

Detail from a 1928 Southern Electric Railway poster 'Kentish Hills & Surrey Dales' by Ethelbert White

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