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National Velvet (1935)

por Enid Bagnold

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A fourteen-year-old English girl wins a horse in a raffle, trains it, and rides it in the Grand National steeplechase.
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I first read this book as a child and loved Velvet's story. I loved the fragments I could understand, anyway, because the story contains foods, events, and household items that were entirely foreign to a child in 1970's Texas. Even after all these years of enjoying British fiction, there's still a few things I'm puzzled about, because I really don't have any context for what would be considered normal vs eccentric in 1920's rural Sussex. And why the horror of wearing muslins to the gymkhana? What are muslins? I know it's a fabric, but the book treats it as a hated garment the girls are made to wear. Was it an especially ugly dress? Donald is obviously a precocious and mightily spoiled child, but is his spit bottle within the range of normal little boy things for that time? I don't know. I might never know. At least I now know what treacle is, and can google all the other terms. Thank god for google.

Listening to this on audio now as an adult, there's so much more to this story that I can appreciate. The prose is a treat, the family is enchanting, with such distinct and unique personalities, and I understand both Velvet and her mother much better.
( )
  Doodlebug34 | Jan 1, 2024 |
A butcher's daughter in a small Sussex town ends her nightly prayers with "Oh, God, give me horses, give me horses! Let me be the best rider in England!" The answer to fourteen-year-old Velvet Brown's plea materializes in the form of an unwanted piebald, raffled off in a village lottery, who turns out to be adept at jumping fences--exactly the sort of horse that could win the world's most famous steeplechase, the Grand National.
  PlumfieldCH | Dec 12, 2023 |
How did I get so far along life's path without having read this? I do not know. I have owned a copy of it for nearly ever. I do know I'm glad to have fallen in with Velvet and her remarkable family, including The Piebald and Mi(chael) Taylor, at long last. I didn't even know much of the story, other than it involved a girl and a horse and (I assumed) a race. So I find it actually involves a sickly, unattractive 14-year-old girl with an early version of braces (which she can remove when they get terribly uncomfortable); a recalcitrant, probably ill-bred horse; a once-famous mother who in her youth swam the English Channel against all odds; and that iconic steeplechase, the Grand National. If, like me, you had a picture of Velvet as the young and stunning Elizabeth Taylor astride a thoroughbred in your mind, you're forgiven for making that face you're making now. I've never seen the movie either (was Mickey Rooney her "trainer"?---that's quite wrong too) and I can't decide whether I want to. In any case, the story on the page is a dandy, there's next-to-no sentimentality to it, Velvet's mother is perfection, and her little brother is a hoot. I read one of Enid Bagnold's adult novels many years ago, and enjoyed it, although I found it just a bit overwrought in spots. Still, the characters in that one were very crisp around the edges, and the same is true here. No one blends into the background. The dialog is so realistic I had a little trouble with it at first (not being a denizen of rural England in the mid-1930's) but I soon caught on. Excellent illustrations in my book club edition from 1958. Highly recommended. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Nov 12, 2021 |
Velvet Brown is the youngest daughter of a butcher and a woman who swam the English Channel before her marriage. Her mother has put on a lot of weight since that feat. Velvet lives in a small English village, and the story is set, as far as I can tell, in the 1920's. She has three gorgeous older sisters, described in the book as 'sleek golden greyhounds' and a younger brother, Donald. Velvet herself is described as thin, with 'cotton hair' and wears a plate to correct her buck teeth. Animals in the household are Jacob, a hound, and Miss Ada, an old cart pony. Mi Taylor is Mr. Brown's assistant. He was trusted with the job because his father was Mrs. Brown's swimming coach who helped her swim the Channel.Velvet is obsessed with horses, and wants to own so many that she can have a choice which one to ride. She cuts horses out of magazines and keeps the pictures in a box. She pretends to drive or ride horses when she is out walking alone. When she is in bed before she goes to sleep she pretends to drive a horse and cart. While delivering meat one early morning, she meets a stranger and tells him about her desire to own horses. The man introduces her to his saddle horses, and has her sign a paper. Then he goes away a little distance, and shoots himself. He had willed his five horses to Velvet. Later, Velvet wins a piebald gelding in a raffle. The horse could not be contained because it jumped out of any fenced field or corral, and the owner put him up for the raffle because he was tired of chasing him.The Pie is such a strong jumper that Mi begins training him for The Grand National, the biggest race in England. Mrs. Brown provides her winnings from the Channel swim for the entrance fee. There are many obstacles to this crazy plan, one of which is that Velvet is the only rider who can handle The Pie. This would be a non-issue today, but at that place and time, a female rider in The Grand National was unthinkable. The preparations for the race, the race itself and the notoriety after the race make up the rest of the book. There is no romance, but lots of familial care and love underneath the day-to-day busyness in the household.I love this book. I am not sure I still own a copy, but I have it memorized to the extent that I can just go through it in my head. Seriously, everyone should read National Velvet at least once in his or her life. ( )
  Patricia_Winters | Jan 10, 2018 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Bagnold, EnidAutorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Brown, PaulIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Brulé, AlIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Jones, LaurianIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Lewin, TedIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Seaton, WalterIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Winslow, Earle B.Ilustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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A fourteen-year-old English girl wins a horse in a raffle, trains it, and rides it in the Grand National steeplechase.

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