(Ann) Philippa Pearce The Junior Bookshelf - Essay

The Junior Bookshelf

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The Children of the House] is a most interesting and unusual experiment in authorship. It is collaboration of a sort but not joint authorship in the normally accepted sense. The foreword informs us that Brian Fairfax-Lucy wrote a story for adults and that what we now have is a re-writing of this story by Philippa Pearce for juniors—a case of ghost-writing in which it is not a matter of "as told to" but "from a story by". From Miss Pearce's pen we expect a book to be readable and she has not failed us. She has succeeded in a most interesting way in her presentation of the events in Mr. Fairfax-Lucy's story of another age….

In an age when servants were kept in their place, the wish of the children to be friendly with them is nicely told. The drawback to the story is the lack of a sense of the passage of time. It is difficult to get a feeling of the ages of the children from one chapter to another, and too abruptly they pass from childhood to a kind of semi-adulthood—at one moment a boyish escapade and the next a commissioned officer. Apart from this, it has a great deal to commend it.

"The New Books: 'The Children of the House'," in The Junior Bookshelf, Vol. 32, No. 4, August, 1968, p. 237.