The Great Western Beach

The Great Western Beach

3.98 (62 ratings by Goodreads)
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The Hallsmiths are a truly remarkable family; or that, at least, is how Elspeth's parents would like to be perceived. But Father, a hero of the Great War, convinced his destiny is to become a famous painter, has to suffer with gritted teeth the ignominy of his actual position in society - that of lowly bank clerk. And although Mother, bereaved of three fiances during the Great War, is at last a married woman with children, she does have the unfortunate knack of upstaging her husband, being, unlike him, tall, charming and admired by everybody. As to the Twins, fearless defiant Pam and sickly bewildered Jim, existence for them is an unremitting struggle. Elspeth, their younger sister, is Daddy's favourite, but rather wishes she wasn't.And it seems, at first anyway, as if money always in too short a supply to support those appearances thought so essential to the Hallsmith family dignity. But there is one thing about which Elspeth's parents are in harmonious agreement: picnics on the beach. And when the family sets forth on summery Sunday outings' loaded with picnic baskets and bathing togs, their quarrels will, for a brief interval, be forgotten, buried in sandcastles, washed out to sea on the tide, and they can be happy together. This marvellous memoir of a 1923 to 1935 childhood pulsates with life. Newquay - its eccentric residents and exotic holiday-makers, its tennis tournaments and bathing parties, invigorating walks and teas at the Rose Cafe - is the Hallsmith children's entire world; a world observed and remembered in meticulous detail by young Elspeth. Written with enormous love and a gently caustic wit, it generates an atmosphere hauntingly different from the usual run of childhood more

Product details

  • Hardback | 384 pages
  • 138 x 216 x 36mm | 521.63g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0747595917
  • 9780747595915
  • 671,717

Review quote

'I've rarely come across a more gripping childhood memoir' Diana Athill 'Such a delicate mixture of understanding and condemnation, and a lot of it funny it's the sort of memoir that will be an antidote to the current misery ones - that rare thing, a "nice" book.' Margaret Forster 'How honest she is, and what a loving memoir this is of an ominous decade.' Jane Gardam 'I identified very closely with her memories, being about the same age, and having spent my childhood in very much the same circumstances. I was filled with admiration for her honesty and her total recall. I am sure the book will do very well for you.' Rosamunde Pilchershow more

About Emma Smith

Emma Smith was born Elspeth Hallsmith in 1923 in Newquay, Cornwall, where until the age of twelve, she lived with her mother and father, an elder brother and sister, and a younger brother. Her first book, Maiden's Trip, was published in 1948 and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. Her second, The Far Cry, was published the following year and was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In 1951 Emma Smith married Richard Stewart-Jones. After her husband's death in 1957 she went to live with her two young children in Wales, where she proceeded to write and have published four successful children's books, a number of short stories and, in 1978, her novel The Opportunity of a Lifetime. Since 1980 she has lived in the London district of more

Rating details

62 ratings
3.98 out of 5 stars
5 32% (20)
4 40% (25)
3 21% (13)
2 6% (4)
1 0% (0)
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