National Velvet

by Enid Bagnold

Paperback, 2002



Call number




HarperFestival (2002), 314 pages


A fourteen-year-old English girl wins a horse in a raffle, trains it, and rides it in the Grand National steeplechase.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Schmerguls
Though I remember when the movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney was being shown (I never did get to see it), and though I have long wanted to read this book, only now have I done so. The peculiarites of English village life in the 1920's or 1930's do appear odd and one has to get used
Show More
to the dialog, but when we get to the time when the effort to enter the horse in the national race and subequent events, the story does become beguiling and enjoyable. But the reaction of the public to the win and to the action of the powers that be in the racing world is bound to be somewhat hard for one used to fairer views in today's world to take. And I would have liked a more direct account of the race itself and of Velvet's mental reactions to the race. But even after 80 years it is a story to enjoy.
Show Less
LibraryThing member FionaCat
I just could not get into this story of a young girl who wins a horse in a contest and rides him in the Grand National. It wasn't the story so much as the style of writing. Something about it always bothered me and kept me from being fully engaged in the book.
LibraryThing member phlegmmy
As a horse lover since birth, I first read this book when I was young. (I credit my love of dogs and horses with my love of reading--after reading all the books in my local library about dogs and horses, I had to find other things to read.) I loved this story as a child and still drag it out almost
Show More
every year for a reread and I'm 53. If you've only seen the movie with Liz Taylor, read the book, it is a very different story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member beserene
Like many girls, I was obsessed with horses as a child. You would think, then, that I would have read (over and over again) a book about a town girl who suddenly ends up with a field full of horses and wins the Grand National on the most unlikely horse of the bunch. Um, no. I don't recall ever
Show More
having read this book before, and when I read it this year, as a 30-year-old, I discovered why: even if I had picked this book up as a kid, the style would have been so off-putting that I would have put it straight down again. That's not to say that there is anything wrong with this book; it's just as charming as a story about a girl and her horse ought to be, and there is a strong measure of realism, laced with a pragmatic tone, that prevents the whole business from becoming saccharine. But the dialogue is written in such a way that it was actually a struggle for me to completely follow it, until I let myself sink into the book and get used to it. I would suspect that the dialogue pattern -- which minimalizes words and assumes that words are there without actually including them -- is a product of observation, as it feels not only authentic but comfortable, once one is used to it, like a worn-in shoe. You can hear people speaking this way. But it is surprising for someone whose memories of the story are summed up as the Elizabeth Taylor movie version -- this is a more complex book than Hollywood would have you believe (as is so often true) but it's well worth the effort and ended up being earnest and enjoyable.
Show Less
LibraryThing member thePaperWoman
A classic story about a girl and the horse she won in a raffle.
LibraryThing member marifab64
Has great themes. I loved the way the author would describe things in this story. It is an exciting story that would be a good choice for young girls around the ages of 9 to 12. Has lots of good new words to learn
LibraryThing member kellw
Charming book takes place in the English countryside in a house without electric power. Good book for girls as it has a strong female lead who has a loving support system. This book is a classic, the writing is impeccable and it is a story that will stick with you for many years.
LibraryThing member annejacinta
Charming. Full of unique characterisation and setting.
LibraryThing member laytonwoman3rd
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,
Show More
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.
Show Less


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

7.75 inches


0694015792 / 9780694015795

Similar in this library

Page: 0.1052 seconds