The Girl in the Painted Caravan : Memories of a Romany Childhood, Paperback Book

The Girl in the Painted Caravan : Memories of a Romany Childhood Paperback

2 out of 5 (1 rating)


Born into a Romany gypsy family in 1939, Eva Petulengro's childhood seemed to her to be idyllic in every way.

She would travel the country with her family in their painted caravan and spend evenings by the fire as they sang and told stories of their past.

She didn't go to school or visit a doctor when she was unwell.

Instead her family would gather wild herbs to make traditional remedies, hunt game and rabbits, and while the men tended horses to make a living, the young girls would join the women in reading palms.

But Eva's perfect world would be turned upside down as the countryside became increasingly hostile to all travellers.

Eva describes the wonderful characters in her family, from her grandfather 'Naughty' Petulengro to her four beautiful aunts who entranced everyone they met, as well as the fascinating people they came across on the road.

Moving, evocative, romantic and funny, The Girl in the Painted Caravan vividly captures a way of life that has now, sadly, all but disappeared.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, Illustrations, ports.
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9780330519991

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Interesting, different biography. Eva is born to a travelling Romany family, living in England. Dubbed "gypsies" by the "gorgers" (the non-travellers), they make their living going town to town for fairs and festivals, setting up whatever can sell and (her mother's specialty) reading palms. Eva never attended school, but through various means taught herself to read and write. The family lived in a Vardo (a wagon) most of her life, with no electricty, running water, refrigerator or anything. Bathrooms were the local pub, if they were lucky, or a toilet that Dad pitched at each site. More room was set up at each site with "bender" tents. She thought it was perfectly normal to put away the beds, so the family could eat and entertain. And the family's savings were worn - in the form of jewelry, since banks wasn't an option for a travelling clan. Amazing how the families would keep in touch with each other. Now that lifestyle is mostly gone.