Kirkus Reviews was not very kind to these books when they were first published, but what the reviewers deemed flaws were some of the very reasons I enjoyed the Davenports so much. In its 1948 review of The Davenports Are at Dinner, Kirkus calls the characters "a bit too noble" and claims "they take even their hard luck too gallantly." The reviewer does not seem to believe in the characters, and the review basically just mocks the book's sincerity and seems appalled by the notion that the entire family gets along. I, however, found these characters totally believable and even refreshing in their positivity and willingness to move forward despite difficulties. It isn't as though the family has a choice, after all, and their resilience provides a great opportunity for kids to see that material possessions are not the key to happiness, and that it is possible to be happy with whatever lot one is given in life.
Kirkus seemed to like The Davenports and Cherry Pie a bit better, but even this review makes it sound as though the only reason kids would be interested in this book is because they can live vicariously through the characters' experiences starring on television. I had no idea children's literature critics were already so cynical about childhood way back in the 1940s! I personally would have loved these books as a kid, because I found most sources of conflict troubling, and gravitated toward happy-go-lucky stories about big families. The Davenports books remind me a lot of books by Carolyn Haywood, Johanna Hurwitz, and Beverly Cleary, who depict mostly happy childhoods and handle difficulties gently and with great hope and heart.
These books are not mentioned very much in articles about Alice Dalgliesh, presumably because they have been overshadowed by her more successful works and because they now seem so dated. Still, I think it's worth tracking them down if you can and sharing them with kids who enjoy sweet family stories.