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The Historical House
by Linda Newbery
When 13-year-old Polly befriends two suffragettes in the top floor flat at No. 6, Chelsea Walk, she finds herself questioning the views of those around her. The Votes for Women campaign strikes a chord with Polly and she becomes determined to join the suffragettes’ protest march, even if it means clashing with her family...
“These are engaging novels, immaculately researched and quietly informative.”
Linda Newbery wrote her first novel during the summer holidays from her job as English teacher in a comprehensive school. Now a critically acclaimed full-time author, Linda has written over twenty novels, been shortlisted twice for the Carnegie Medal, and is the winner of a Silver Medal Nestle Children’s Book Prize and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Linda does much of her work in a writing hut in her garden but is often distracted by her own four cats ...
Visit www.lindanewbery.co.uk to find out more.
In this lively story, Linda Newbery provides an excellent introduction to the changing role of women in the 20th century. The new tenants represent opposing views of the fight for women’s suffrage. Edwina believes in direct action and finds herself in prison being force-fed, released under the notorious Cat and Mouse Act and the re-arrested. Violet is a supporter of Sylvia Pankhurst and more concerned about the terrible working conditions in the East End. Polly’s mother will not go against her husband openly but is a secret sympathizer, and Polly herself represents the new generation. All the characters have fully rounded personalities – Linda Newbery is far too good a writer to offer her readers mere stereotypes. Recommended for girls of 8-10.
Elizabeth Hawksley The Historical Novels Review
The premise of Usborne's Historical House series is a delightful one: a single house in Chelsea forms the backdrop for a set of stories spanning 200 years. Written by three acclaimed authors, each focuses on an atmospheric period.
In the earliest, the house is a boarding school and the book focuses on the arrival in London of the young Mozart and his sister. Its subtext is an implicit indictment of 18th-century mores.
Cecily's Portrait, set in the 1890s, revolves around developments in photography. The warm family story incorporates conversations about contemporary works of art and a running argument about the relative merits of photography and traditional portraiture.
Art remains an underlying theme in Andie's Moon, set over the summer of the first moon landing in 1969 and featuring the bohemian array of fashion and pop music on the nearby King's Road.
These are engaging novels, immaculately researched and quietly informative. They can be read in any order; those who read them all will be thrilled by the occasional links that draw characters together across generations.
Kate Agnew, Education Guardian, Critic's Choice May 2007
Linda Newbery is one of three established authors who have created the Historical House series, which looks at the lives of the inhabitants of a house in Chelsea during three periods in history. Adele Geras kicks off the story in 1857 with Lizzie visiting her cousins in London, the elder of whom has been inspired by Florence Nightingale. By 1914 the house is divided into flats and Linda Newbery takes up the story with Polly befriending a couple of suffragettes who move in. The final story is set in 1941, when Ann Turnbull’s heroine Josie is staying with her cousins to escape being ostracised when her brother Ted becomes a conscientious objector. All three books stand alone, but girls of eight to 11 will want to read them all and will enjoy the historical detail in each.
Times Educational Supplement
The Historical House series provides the opportunity for three highly acclaimed writers to explore the life of a London house and its inhabitants from 1857 to 1941. There are three main focal points in the texts: the house’s physical changes through the years, meticulous and informative details about domestic life, ethos and culture and, finally, the developing roles and expectations of women at critical periods in history. Crucially, the writers have maintained authorial independence, giving them a clarity of voice and diversity of style, but the books are linked by the motif of the walnut tree and by the challenges which their female protagonists have to face.
Books for Keeps
The three stories in The Historical House series share a setting while exploring an individual period. In Adele Geras’ Lizzie’s Wish, girls seek education and an active role in society, while their successors in Linda Newbery’s Polly’s March are after the vote. By the time of Ann Turnbull’s Josie Under Fire, surviving the London blitz and a changing world order has a become the preoccupation. Historically strong, these are also dramatic stories with a real sense of atmosphere.
Julia Eccleshare, Pick of 2004 - The Guardian
The Historical House is a new series that cleverly sets three stories by well-established writers in the same London house, but at different periods of history. The lead character in each is a girl around 12 years old. Lizzie's Wish by Adele Geras is set during the Crimean War. In Polly's March, by Linda Newbery, Polly is fascinated by the suffragettes who move into the flat upstairs, and Ann Turnbull's Josie Under Fire takes place in 1941 during the Blitz. The writers have collaborated over their work and although each story stand alone, characters from earlier periods occasionally put in an appearance in the later novels.
Kathryn Ross’s Pick of the Year, The Scotsman
Brilliant book based upon 6 Chelsea Walk, a London house with a mixed history. Three different authors set their books in different times 1764, 1857, 1895, 1914, 1940 and 1969 but the house always forms the background to the lives of the girls who live there. Polly is the heroine of Linda Newbury's book. She becomes friends with two suffragettes who live on the top floor and are involved in the 'Votes for Women' campaign and, as the relationship develops, she begins to question the opinions and views of her family and their circle.
The Monkey Tree
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I was interested in this book because I am studying the changing role of women in history. The book was excellent, I really enjoyed it. I have already bought the next two.
Christopher Tovey, 12th October 2011
What I think about Polly's march
I find this book really truly interesting. I've found out a lot about suffragettes from this book as well. When I was reading I really got an image in my head of what it was like from the description that Linda Newbery put in. It's a wonderful book and I would like to read more about the historical house in the series.
Charlotte, 4th February 2008
I really liked this book because it was an entertaining and interesting read. I particularly liked the way the author put a good clear picture in my head. It taught me lots about suffragettes and what people thought of them. My favourite part is where Polly herself becomes a sort of suffragette. I would give it 9 out of 10.
Rachel Beggs, aged 10, 19th July 2007
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