Away from the Vicarage, by Noel Streatfield. Collins, 1965. Hdbk. Original dust jacket still in good condition, apart from a very little wear and tear at the top. 213 pp.
It's almost an autobiographical genre of its own : 'How I Survived a Victorian/Edwardian Childhood'. If you can throw in a vicarage or two as well, you've more or less won the jackpot. This is the second book in a lightly fictionalised trilogy (the other two being A Vicarage Family and Beyond the Vicarage). The author's father eventually became Bishop of Lewes---and you don't get much more Establishment than that.
Classic scene: ' "Hallo, Vicky darling. You are not going to tell me you are ready to type some of my letters?"
Victoria felt as she had as a child when her father had received one of her terrible school reports . . . .
"Daddy, I want to be an actress."
As she watched, colour drained out of Father's face and he seemed to age . . .'
Poor chap, one might think, automatically, backing away before the fireworks start to explode. But in actual fact this particular paterfamilias recovers quickly, before gamely going off to research a subject which, up until now, he's known nothing at all about. Not much later he returns to recommend something called 'The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art'---as a result of which, plucky little Vicky goes off to London to learn how to read the boards like a real professional.
The story skips merrily along through the rough and tumble of the following decade of theatrical experience, before reaching a climactic event (no spoilers here) which will transform the actress into a successful children's author (though this is a metamorphosis that only really occurs in the sequel).