I’m reading Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild for the first time. Any fans out there? I’ve wanted to read it ever since You’ve Got Mail mentioned it (so it’s been in my TBR pile for a very long time…). When giving advice to a customer in her bookshop, Kathleen Kelly says, “I’d start with Ballet Shoes first, it’s my favorite.” She conveyed so much love for the book, I knew I wanted to read it. And now, I finally am!
Naturally, I’m intrigued by the names. In the first chapter we meet the main characters as babies – Paulina, Petrova, and Posy – and learn how they got their names. SPOILERS for chapter 1:
- PAULINA: Gum (G.U.M. = Great Uncle Matthew) rescues the baby when their ship hits an iceberg. They name her Paulina after St. Paul who was also rescued at sea.
- PETROVA: Gum adopts her after her Russian parents pass away. They name her Petrova as a nod to her Russian heritage and because it sounds like St. Peter, another apostle, like St. Paul.
- POSY: Gum adopts her after her father passes away and her mother is unable to care for her. She was named before the adoption, much to the chagrin of Nana, the nurse/nanny raising the girls for Gum.
Despite Posy being an absolutely adorable name, no one in the book seems fond of it. In a letter about her, Gum writes, “Her name is Posy. Unfortunate, but true.” I think Nana would have preferred another apostle-inspired name.
Which of the names is your favorite?
Happy naming, Amanda
UPDATE: I finished reading this book and wanted to add a few more great names to the list:
- THEODORA: This is one of the dance instructors and she goes by “Theo” – a very cute vintage name with a modern nickname
- POPPY: A sweet floral name
- WINIFRED: Lots of nickname potential here – Winnie and Freddie are two of my favorites
- CLARA: This vintage name always makes me think about the character from The Nutcracker, so it’s fitting it was used in a book called Ballet Shoes.