As scarletlobster recently reminded me, seven years ago thewhiteowl and I were amusing ourselves by writing versions of the Marlows books in LOLCAT dialogue. (We never actually sourced any pictures of cats because it would have been too much work, and anyway, can you imagine the wars about whether Miss Ferguson should be a Scottish Fold or a foxy-looking ginger?)
As the fandom has been going through a renaissance due to lilliburlero and associates' great work on the readthroughs, I thought I'd link to the posts again so that people who missed them the first time round can share in the silliness.
Autumn Term, The Marlows And The Traitor, The Ready-Made Family, The Attic Term
Run Away Home
The Thuggery Affair
Falconer's Lure, End Of Term, The Cricket Term, Peter's Room
( Chapter 10: High Diving )
( Chapter 11: The Jump-Off )
Many thanks again to our guest posters, and to everyone who’s participated so far: go for it!
I think there was general agreement that a break at this point might suit us all. Can I propose that we resume discussion on 29th August with End of Term? That should let most people get their summer hols out of the way (and write some fic?) and has a pleasing confluence with the back-to-school mood of the novel.
Before I go, I should just mention that legionseagle has given the hall-stand a happy ending in this fic, which also features a cameo by a teenage Robert Anquetil, already Bristol-fashion, bless his cotton socks. It was a great relief to me to know that the hall-stand did not end its days far from sea.
( Chapter 4: Colebridge Market )
( Chapter 5: Jael is Entered and Peter Gate-crashes )
( Chapter 6: The Day it Rained )
Well: that was great fun! And now -- with renewed thanks to lilliburlero for letting me step briefly into her esteemed shoes -- over to you.
( Chapter 1: Jael in the Morning )
( Chapter 2: Grand Stoop )
( Chapter 3: No One Ever Tells Us Anything )
It's goodbye from me for a bit, as highfantastical will be taking over next week, and sprog_63 the week after that.
So, looking forward to your comments. Have at it!
18th July: Chapters 1-3
25th July: Chapters 4-6 -- guest post by highfantastical
1st August: Chapters 7-9 -- guest post by sprog_63 (tbc)
8th August: Chapters 10 & 11.
It's also been mooted that we take a break at some point. How would people feel about, say a 2-week holiday after the end of Falconer's Lure, resuming with End of Term on 22nd August? Do also feel free to make your own suggestions in comments. If you're willing to undertake a guest post at any point, do indicate your interest by sending me a pm.
To Strive, To Seek (4128 words) by AJHall
Fandom: The Charioteer - Mary Renault, The Marlows - Antonia Forest
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Ralph Lanyon/Laurie Odell
Characters: Mervyn (The Charioteer), Ralph Lanyon, Laurie Odell, Ann Marlow, Peter Marlow, Regina (falcon)
Additional Tags: Class Differences, Navy, the times they are a changing
Admiralty and Adjustments.
The smallest thing can change a life. In Mervyn's case, it was the position of a bed in a surgical ward in war-time Bridstow and the chance gift of a copy of the East Africa Pilot.
This kind of follows along from the last discussion, but I thought I would give it a new thread. It’s basically that I just can’t get along with Falconer’s Lure. I fell joyfully on my GGB copy, having not read it for decades, only to find it a crushing disappointment. (And Marlows and the Traitor, too, sad to say.)
It feels so dated. The characters seem much less complex than in later books (for the first time I understand why people find Nicola annoying) and the style doesn’t seem so assured. It’s a much more conventional family story than the other holiday books: dad makes the decisions – nobody really questions his authority – mum is gently supportive - the only character who really steps out of line (Ginty) is shown the error of her ways.
In terms of her writing craft, AF doesn’t seem to handle her material well: a key theme is Jon’s death and the family’s reactions, yet we hardly get to know Jon; all the Unity Logan discussion seems a bit pointless when we never encounter her (and I just can’t imagine the adults being that interested in a totally unknown adolescent); in the scene in the attic, there are no less than three big chunks of poetry read/sung aloud to intense reactions from the audience – over-egging it surely? (And so many blooming competitions: diving, sailing, swimming, reciting, singing, gymkhana…) Its structure is a bit of a mess, and usually that is something AF does so well.
Above all, there are no really magnificent, memorable passages, like, say, the hunt in Peter’s Room. (Here I don’t think AF did herself a favour picking falconry. “It was quite impossible to make them understand why the flight at gull had been so thrilling” – quite. )
So I’m wondering:
i) Is Falconer’s Lure irredeemably “dated”?
ii) Or do AF’s books simply need to be read several times? Will I eventually come to appreciate FL?
iii) Or does AF’s writing simply get better as she grows into her style/gets to know her characters? Are the middle books just better than the earlier ones?
Patrick said suddenly, "Oh dear. I do wish it was six years from now."
"Six years?" said Nicola, who sometimes wished it was this time next week, but had never looked that far ahead.
"Yes. Well. In six years, I'll have finished school, I'll have done National Service, and if Dad's still M.P. I can come back here and look after things. And then Jon and I can keep hawkes properly.
pg 52/53 GGB edition
That made me wonder about how AF changed things to suit the times, yet retained some things that were already 'canon' despite them being 'out of time'.
For example, when the red uniforms came back in, the book they were mentioned in was written *past* the time rationing finished in the early 1950s in Real Life? That was Falconer's Lure as well, but haven't reached that bit in the book, yet. I know the book is set in 1948, and clothes rationing ended in 1949...but the book was written/published in 1955.
What I'm leading up to here is... will Patrick do his National Service, despite that going out before potential later books would have been written, and presumably set? Especially since it had already been mentioned that he was going to do it? Or would AF have just ignored that?
I have clear recollections of boarder envy in the first week of the autumn term, sweltering in their gymmies or skirts while the day girls were cool and comfortable in their cotton frocks. This would have been in the 1950s, mostly in South East England and the Thames Valley.
For me she has been a favourite writer since I first encountered her books as a child. Some of her books I wasn’t able to find until I was an adult anyway, and I found them just as gripping. I think her biggest strengths are in her style, and the depth of her characterisation of a wide range of people. Almost no one is unambiguously good or bad in her books, and I’m able to understand and get involved with characters I don’t necessarily like as people, but find fascinating nonetheless. Even someone like Rowan, who is mainly and effectively held up as an admirable person, can and does hold grudges, make mistakes and mishandle people. I think one of Forest’s strengths is her ability – despite plainly having strong views on many things – not necessarily to have her favourite characters share her beliefs, or give one the sense that the world she’s created is being forced into shape to vindicate them. She does I think fail at this in her handling of Ann in Run Away Home and in the accounts given of the post-Conciliar Catholic church particularly in Attic Term – though to the extent that the latter come from Patrick, I think they are in character. Nicola shares some of her enthusiasms – for the Navy, Nelson, and Hornblower for example – but that works very differently.
I don’t rate all the books equally highly, but even those which I consider lesser, such as Thuggery Affair have some scenes I’d be very reluctant to lose, like the canoe trip at the beginning. Though I think Thuggery Affair has too much plot, and that plotting is not one of her strengths. Instead, she’s good at themes, like death and betrayal in Falconer’s Lure and Peter’s Room. In fact I wonder if the school/family story genre suits her partly because it is rather episodic, and I think her best books (Cricket Term, End of Term, Falconer’s Lure) are episodic. There is drama, there are crises, but nothing is fully resolved and other bits of life are always going on around the big moments.
One other aspect which came up on girlsown was whether school stories as a genre are generally not that good when compared to other children’s or adult literature. Thinking about other books than Forest’s with a strong school aspect which I would put on any list of good books, as opposed perhaps to my favourite school stories (not that I am any good at lists, they change every time I make them), I’ve come up with the following on a first think; books that have a strong shape and feel in my mind still, even though I may not have read them for many years:
Frost in May, Antonia White
Charlotte Sometimes, Penelope Farmer
Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfeild
Swarm in May, William Mayne
Nightwatch Winter, Jenny Overton
(ETA: Am temporarily deleting my lj as I need not to be distracted at the moment; I will be back.)
I just moved to America (okay, it's not quite a desert island) and had to make agonising choices about which books to bring. Specifically about which AF books to bring. My final list was: The Cricket Term, The Attic Term, Falconer's Lure, Run Away Home and Players Boy. The last one made it because it's new and I've only read it a couple of times. I'm starting to wonder if I'll miss End of Term when it gets nearer Christmas. But the others are just books I can't live without.
So which would make it onto your list?
It's in Chapter 2 p38, my hardback copy when they're all sitting round the breakfast table and Kay's got the paper.
Any help appreciated!