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Meet the Maitlands

Meet the Maitlands was first published in 1978. It is now out of print.


Story | Connections to Other Books | Thoughts | Editions and Availability

Story

In the latter half of Queen Victoria's reign, David Maitland was born: the third son of "the Squire" who lived at Cuckly Place, a large house in the village of Little Cuckley. Following family tradition, David became a parson, and inherited the Rectory near Cuckley Place and small income.

David and his wife, Priscilla, have five children: the twins, Selina and John, followed by Chloe, Martin and Andrew. In the year that Selina and John are ten, John is expected to begin boarding at a prepartory school very soon, and a governess is engaged to teach Selina and Chloe, and the boys before they start school. Selina is worried about John going to boarding school, as she is sure he will be miserable. John is very sensitive about blood, and anything dead, and even sounds in the dark - normally Selina helps him, but she won't be there when he is at school.

Violet Smith is engaged as a governess. Violet has said she is sixteen years old, and has taught for two years at a school called Wisteria Lodge. In fact, she is only fourteen, and had been working for the nurse at Wisteria Lodge. Violet had been educated at a village school, and had wanted to try for a scholarship at the Grammar School, but her parents would not let her. Taking the governess job at the Rectory will, she thinks, give her access to books, and she will be able to find out about how to get a scholarship to the Grammar School.

Shortly after lessons with Violet have begun - with Violet only a few steps ahead of her students - David makes an announcement to the children. Priscilla has been unwell for many years, and is to go to a hospital in Switzerland which may be able to cure her. David will be going with her, and they will be taking Andrew and Nannie with them. David would have liked to send the other children to Cuckly Place, to be looked after by their grandfather and Aunt Agnes. However, Cuckly Place is about to be closed, for dry-rot in the walls to be fixed, and grandfather and Aunt Agnes will be away for some months. The other children are therefore to remain at the Rectory, with Violet and Cook to look after them.

Connections to Other Books

Meet the Maitlands is the first in a two book series, the second being The Maitlands: All Change at Cuckly Place. It seems likely that Noel had originally intended to write further books about the Maitland family.

Thoughts

(This section contains "spoilers" for those who have not read the book.)

Meet the Maitlands is a rather disappointing book. Noel does succeed in re-creating the world of her own childhood (John and Selina were born in 1890, five years earlier than Noel). However, the characters are superficially drawn, compared with Noel's other works. In addition, the storyline is developed rather awkwardly, with a number of flashbacks and events placed out of chronological order. As a result, the book as a whole is not particularly memorable.

Readers of Noel's fiction for adults may notice distinct similarities between John Maitland, and Baruch Churston of Parson's Nine.

Editions and Availability

UK Editions

Meet the Maitlands was first published in 1978, by W. H. Allen. It was illustrated by Antony Maitland. It does not appear to have been reissued at any stage.

US Editions

There does not seem to have been a US edition of Meet the Maitlands.

Out of Print

Meet the Maitlands is now out of print, and the lack of paperback editions mean that there are relatively few copies available on the second-hand market. In February 2004, second hand copies through online booksellers start in price at 14. (Source: Addall Used and Out of Print Book Search.)

 


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