Episode of Sparrows

( 3 )

Overview

A much-loved English novel reminiscent of The Secret Garden

Someone has dug up the private garden in the square and taken buckets of dirt, and Miss Angela Chesney of the Garden Committee is sure that a gang of boys from run-down Catford Street must be to blame. But Angela's sister Olivia isn't so sure. Olivia wonders why the neighborhood children—the “sparrows” she sometimes watches from the window of her house —have to be locked out of the garden. Don't they have a right to ...

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Overview

A much-loved English novel reminiscent of The Secret Garden

Someone has dug up the private garden in the square and taken buckets of dirt, and Miss Angela Chesney of the Garden Committee is sure that a gang of boys from run-down Catford Street must be to blame. But Angela's sister Olivia isn't so sure. Olivia wonders why the neighborhood children—the “sparrows” she sometimes watches from the window of her house —have to be locked out of the garden. Don't they have a right to enjoy the place, too? But neither Angela nor Olivia has any idea what sent the neighborhood waif Lovejoy Mason and her few friends in search of “good, garden earth.” Still less do they imagine where their investigation of the incident will lead them—to a struggling restaurant, a bombed-out church, and at the heart of it all, a hidden garden.

In post-World War II London, two street-tough children attempt to build a hidden garden, an act that awakens hidden courage in the children and profoundly disrupts the neighborhood.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It would be impossible for a reader not to feel better from reading the story…her rich understanding of human nature, her humor and her beautiful prose inevitably leave one aglow."
Chicago Tribune

"…an extraordinarily gifted writer who manages to infuse her novels with a special magic of their own."
Boston Herald

"May well prove the book of the year for those who are not ashamed to weep over the printed page…author Godden here tries her deft writing hand at landscaping a child’s heart."
Time

"It is a sentimental tale, well told, with an unlikely and entirely satisfactory ending."
The New Yorker

"It has a dizzying cast of characters, radiating out from the inhabitants of a once-gentel London residential square to the residents of the teeming commercial streets beyond."
The Horn Book

A gentle, poignant story, poetically conceived with a fairy godmother ending. Recommended for all…
— Library Journal

Children's Literature - Della A. Yannuzzi
Lovejoy, an eleven-year-old English girl growing up in London in the 1940s does not have an easy life. She is considered a street child who wanders about the city, although her mother, a traveling actress/singer has left her with a married couple who are struggling to get by with their little restaurant. Lovejoy's mother is behind on her upkeep for Lovejoy. She can't pay for her boarding, new clothes or even buy a decent pair of shoes for her. Lovejoy dreams of having something for herself, and when she finds a packet of flower seeds on the street, she decides to start a garden in the ruins of buildings that have been destroyed by World War II. She befriends a boy named Tip and he helps her build the garden until he gets caught stealing dirt from a city garden. A woman named Angela from the Garden Committee wants the dirt thieves caught, but her sister Olivia wonders, can dirt really be stolen? Lovejoy is a determined little girl and continues on with her garden until her garden is destroyed to make room for a new church. To make matters worse, Lovejoy's, mother doesn't return, the restaurant goes out of business, and the little girl has nowhere to go but to an orphanage. All is not lost though when Angela's sister, Olivia, who has been watching the street life from her old school house window tries to help Tip and Lovejoy. When she dies, she establishes a trust fund for Lovejoy with stipulations. The restaurant owners should open a new restaurant, Lovejoy live with them, and be provided clothes, an education, and money from the profits of the restaurant to be divided between the owners, Lovejoy, and Tip. The plot has many twists and turns, and unobtrusive moral lessons, but the author well known for her many books for children and young adults has written an engrossing tale of life in London after the destruction of World War II. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi
Publishers Weekly
Exploring a similar theme, Rumer Godden's An Episode of Sparrows (1955), set in WWII London, tells of two street kids who attempt to create a secret garden, inspiring other children and shaking up the neighborhood. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590171240
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 9/9/2004
  • Series: New York Review Children's Collection Series
  • Pages: 247
  • Sales rank: 1,002,355
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.73 (w) x 8.73 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Rumer Godden (1907–1998) grew up in India, where her father ran a steamship company. When her husband left her penniless in Calcutta with two daughters to raise, she started to write books to pay off her many debts. She wrote more than sixty books for adults and young adults, including The Doll’s House, Impunity Jane, The Greengage Summer, An Episode of Sparrows and The Mousewife.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2005

    One of my book group's favorite reads

    Anglophiles, Rumer Godden fans, readers of good fiction will not be disappointed in this finely-crafted story. This new edition seems to be marketed towards younger readers, but for all that there are children in it, and playing major parts, it is a story for all who want to understand the big picture, if you will. Miss Godden's incredible talent for drawing together many different threads to weave her tale is irresistable, in An Episode of Sparrows and all of her fiction, in fact.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 14, 2014

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    Posted December 24, 2009

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