[identity profile] bookroom.livejournal.com
Hi all, am new here, but can't see that this has been discussed before.

I was reading End of Term recently, and got thinking about whether AF's account of who precisely can tell Niccola and Lawrie apart stands up to scrutiny (aside entirely from the implausibility of their mother not being able to find the merest freckle, mole or scar to distinguish the unconscious Lawrie from Nicola in The Marlows and the Traitor.) There are lots of indications, not surprisingly, that members of staff and other Kingscote girls who don't know them that well can't tell them apart throughout the series. What interested me more in End of Term was the extent to which their siblings and close friends and classmates can or can't distinguish them.

When Lawrie and Nicola switch for the netball match after Lawrie bruises her leg, they sleep in one another's beds, and Ginty and Ann don't spot the ruse in the morning when Lawrie (as Nicola) pretends to be ill, though Nick at least seems to have a moment of tension when she's afraid Ann will realise - but both twins seem to be able to presume that neither of their sisters will see through the switch, or presumably they would have known in advance it would never have worked. Nick walks in to the gym, and Miranda, her best friend, likewise thinks she's Lawrie until she's told otherwise. Yet when they go in to breakfast Tim knows immediately Nick isn't Lawrie, and we're told she 'had never had the least difficulty in telling them apart'. From Nicola remembering what Peter once told her about how Lawrie always hitched at her stockings and Nick put her hands in her pockets, presumably he can tell them apart too (despite seeing an awful lot less of them than their sisters)? It's unclear whether Jan Scott has guessed before Lois guesses 'Lawrie' is really Nick, while watching her play brilliantly in the netball match, but it emerges that the outcast Marie Dobson has guessed, based simply on the way in which Nick bumped into her and apologised in the gym doorway earlier that day.

Is it plausible that siblings who share a room with the twins would be taken in by an identical twin switch, basing their interpretation of who was who entirely on situation stuff like who was in which bed/wearing which games kit etc? Is Ann just too honest and straightforward to suspect, and Ginty too self-absorbed, and we are to assume that the redoubtable Rowan would have seen through it in a millisecond, even if all concerned were wearing identical school uniform?

Are there ever any indications that any of the other Marlows can't tell the twins apart? Why has Tim never had any difficulty telling them apart, yet observant, intelligent Miranda is fooled initially, when Marie Dobson isn't? (Just that Tim has known both twins since the start of their schooldays, and is Lawrie's best friend, while Miranda only becomes Nick's close friend at the start of End of Term? Or has Marie's outcast status sharpened her powers of observation when it comes to pranks she's being left out of? She's sharp and sly enough to check Nicola's hat name tag to confirm her suspicions.) Esther is a new girl at the start of End of Term, and very diffident, but there is never the slightest reference to her checking that she's talking to Nick, rather than Lawrie, in the way that, say, Jess Geddes does when they find the hawk carving in the Minster.

Anyway, just wondered what anyone else's thoughts were. Is it plausible that even siblings' recognition of identical twins might depend heavily on context (that is Nick's bed, therefore the person in it is Nick)..?
[identity profile] chezzachez.livejournal.com
I've been puzzled as to whether the sixth at Kingscote is one year or two. I think that in FL it says that Rowan is going to miss two years of school; but then Jan Scott in CT is, I think, referred to as having been in teams with Rowan and the sixth with Kay. And surely Lois was in the upper fifth with Rowan, but then stays on, but just for one year? Can anyone shed any light?
[identity profile] rekraft.livejournal.com
Answer any three questions in Section B. Answer any three questions in Section C. Then answer as many questions as possible from all three sections, bearing in mind that questions in Section A carry fewer marks than questions in either of the other two sections.

In the words of Janice Scott, no less, Lawrie's Prosser was a "useful gimmick". How believable is the trap-for-heffalumps in the context of a school like Kingscote - or does it come across as a bit of a deus ex machina?

Attic term

Aug. 25th, 2009 06:06 pm
[identity profile] res23.livejournal.com
1. Nick and Lawrie are still on the Junior netball team, even though so much of the switch in EofT was because Nick would never again have the chance to do this because they'd be too old?

2. There seem to be so many more rules than ever before at school.  I guess there must have been before, but somehow they just seem more prominent now.  Nick and Miranda shopping for the play in End of Term didn't seem to involve nearly so much fuss as these shopping saturdays do - I know they were sent by a staff, but they seemed to be a lot more trusted then than later on.

3.  What, exactly, were the millions of shopping party rules that they broke?  OK, not telling Gina exactly where they were going - but surely girls didn't always know what shops they'd be in or what they'd be buying, specially as they were looking for things like birthday gifts, where they were undecided already about what to buy.  Buying clothes?  Did they know that was such an offence?  they don't seem to have been aware at the time that they were breaking so many rules.  Buying things for others?  Well they were gifts, so was that really a problem?  I know that it led to others finding Changegear, and doing illegal things like swapping clothes or getting Day Girls to provide things to swap.  But what was so wrong about what Nick and Miranda did that day?

4.  And why the sudden emphasis on Day Girls?  Just a plot device?  Or were they there all along and just not mentioned as much.  Or perhaps schools by the time Attic Term was written did have a lot more day girls. (and a lot more rules!).

5. Miranda's Jewishness being such a problem at school Xmas events.  (not just Attic term, but also End of Term).  Why do they all care so much?  I know that sometimes Jewish girls objected to being made to participate in Christian events, and fair enough, but she seems to want to do it, and is never allowed - not because her family would object, but because other people would, a feeling that it's somehow not proper/respectful etc of her to being doing it.   That way around is something that seems less common, with everyone somehow worrying that someone else woudl object, but we never actually see anyone who finds it a problem.  Is anyone really offended?  Maybe people like Ann?

6. Patrick really does seem to be in love in Ginty at times.  I tend to think of him as mostly just fancying her because she's there and she is so obviously keen on him - but that's probably because I know how it ends up.  At the time, he seems quite keen on her, too, wishing she'd phone, wishing he could magic her there to be with him, etc.   When he and Claudie are discussing sex, and he says he is innocent, and she gives him a long look - he then says 'no' - is she offering?  I tend to read it like she is, but then sometimes I think she is just somehow questioning the fact that he doesn't want it.  I don't really understand/like Patrick so much in this book.  The whole crying at classical music, and just lots of other interactions, don't seem realistic to me, somehow. 

What exams?

Jan. 2nd, 2008 11:03 pm
[identity profile] alliekiwi.livejournal.com
I was vaguely pondering Karen today, and wondering what exams she would have sat before leaving Kingscote...if we were to do an AF and put the exams in the time of the writing of that novel. Didn't Karen finish school before 1951 when O-levels and A-levels came in?

I have a feeling it was something like School Certificate before that. However I'm not certain what year in school you sat those exams, considering it was 5th Form in New Zealand, with Higher School Certificate in 7th (Upper 6th), and I think some states/territories in Australia still have Higher School Certificate, and they must have got those exams from somewhere.

Anyone know?
[identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
Does anyone have, by any chance, a handy list of Kingscote staff and their subjects?  In particular, I'm trying to remember who's in the English department.  Miss Kempe, of course.  And the Hellibonk in Cricket Term.  Others?

Val's day

Feb. 14th, 2007 11:31 pm
[identity profile] tabouli.livejournal.com
It being Valentine’s Day and all, I feel the time has come to muse on Val Longstreet, and AF names in general. I was taken aback to learn Val’s full name was Valentine, partly because it’s comically incongruous with her character, and partly because I’ve never met or even heard of a real person called Valentine. I’d assumed her name was Valerie (rare but not unheard of). Was (or is) there a particular time and/or demographic in the UK where 'Valentine' was a reasonably common name?

The names of ongoing characters were an aspect of her books that AF couldn't shift to suit the different timeframes of her books, which must make for some interesting clashes in fashion. Being Australian, I don't know that much about what names would have been popular in schools like Kingscote in the eras when the books are set, but I'd guess, for example, that having two Margarets in a small class of girls might have been likely at the time of Autumn Term, but would have been unlikely by Attic Term.

It's also interesting to look at which names seem dated and which don't. 'Nicola', 'Rebecca', 'Karen' and 'Jenny' are as current as ever, at least to my Australian eye, but 'Erica', 'Lois', 'Virginia' and 'Barbara' seem of an earlier generation. I also suspect (again, without much knowledge of the context in posh UK circles at the time) that by Attic Term, AF chose names for new minor characters (e.g. the 'infants' in Ann's dorm) which were fashionable at the time when the novel was set. Then there's ones like 'Thalia', 'Pomona' and 'Unity', where I suspect AF was deliberately picking offbeat names.

Any thoughts from people who know more than me about UK naming fashions through the ages?
[identity profile] smellingbottle.livejournal.com
I was just reading the beginning of Falconer's Lure where Nicola, hearing about Patrick's reasons for not being at prep school, thinks about how she and Lawrie had been at day-school up until they went to Kingscote, a year earlier. How has anyone imagined this - Hamsptead, something like AF's own school?

Also, what would L and N have been like at this earlier school? They seem so utterly new to school matters, rivalries, work, games and relationships outside the family when they get to Kingscote. Are we to imagine them having very much regarded day school (or anywhere not Kingscote, where the rest of the family is doing so terribly well) as second best, and therefore not worth bothering much about? Or were they simply so frequently ill that they were never at school for more than five minutes consecutively? I have to say I've always had some difficulty swallowing the Delicate Twins thing, as they always seem to robustly well, especially Nicola...
[identity profile] ankaret.livejournal.com
Quick access to the [livejournal.com profile] trennels hive-brain - does anyone know whether Miss Cromwell's first name was ever mentioned in the books, and if so, what it is?

Jan Scott

Dec. 13th, 2005 06:13 pm
[identity profile] childeproof.livejournal.com
Jan Scott - gorgeous, glacial Sabrina Fair; psychopathically uninvolved?

I was reading The Cricket Term lately, and noticed particularly Jan's response to Nicola's attempt to thank her for having been kind when N is shocked by her mother's letter telling her she's possibly in her final term at Kingscote. Nicola says (again, I haven't got my copy to hand, so am not claiming accuracy)'Thanks, Jan [...] I know you don't like to be bothered.' Jan is portrayed as being genuinely bemused by this, as apparently she has been by various staff comments down the years to the effect that she is uncommitted, uninterested (plus a couple of adjectives I can't remember). Certainly, she is always portrayed as utterly neutral, apparently contentedly isolated, completely self-reliant. Is she really so unaware of her own effect, given that she is presented as an excellent reader of others, whether Lois's machinations, Nicola's sensibilities, or staff moods?

Also, do we intuit a subtext giving some context for Jan's isolation? I can't remember which novel includes the reminiscence about her refusal to do voluntary weeding and being marked down thereafter as an unco-operative type, but in Cricket Term we get Rowan's brief account of Jan's background (father a surgeon in Lincolnshire, presumably why he doesn't attend the play, leaving Jan to talk briefly to Rowan and make her 'unobtrusive exit') and her apparent motherlessness, with the possibility that the absent mother is not dead but Mad or Criminal, or Adulterously Elsewhere? (A propos of not much, AF can be rather harsh on mothers - Esther's is 'no nicer than Nicola expected', Helena Merrick is a cypher, also disliked by N, Edward Oeschli's mother doesn't come up trumps, Miranda is dubious about her mother, Pam Marlow is another cypher, and Madame Orly is from hell...)

In a set of novels full of characters getting madly involved in everything from the tidiness picture to the diving cup, and where people are continually looking at lists to see if they're in plays or on teams, the only other character who at all resembles Jan for uninvolvement is Latimer, the gorgeous Jersey cow, too lesirely to scold, but both are depicted as admirable.

Anyway, thoughts on Jan?
[identity profile] childeproof.livejournal.com
Hello, all. First post, having discovered the community very recently and thrilled to encounter other AF nit-pickers, as curiously few people in my life are capable of worrying about what Daks did all day in Noah's Ark, or who think in times of peril or indecision 'What would Nicola Marlow do?'

Was amused by other people's various comparisons with the Chalet School series, and a thought occurred, in the context of the discussions of how much AF expects the reader to adopt Nicola's POV. What about the conspicuous school 'failures' in either case? How much are we supposed to despise the Kingscote failures?

The Chalet reforms virtually everybody who steps between its fragrant floral cubicle curtains, bar the proto-Nazi Thekla von Stift (who, however, as far as I can remember, did do a Gwendolen Mary Lacey by later writing a half-ashamed letter to Mademoiselle Lepattre to apologise for her bad behaviour...?) and Joan Baker, who combined, from the Chalet's point of view, the twin scourges of being working-class and distinctly sexually savvy. All others are butted in upon by Joey or Mary Lou until they desist from being anything other than good Chalet girls.

The obvious Kingscote 'failure' (cue inevtable Tim Keith joke) is Marie Dobson, whose death has always chilled me rather. (AF deciding to get rid of a character who is so utterly useless she is effortlessly trumped by the 'pale idiot rabbit' Elaine Rees in The Prince and the Pauper and thereafter goes downhill? There seems to me both realism and contempt in the manner of her death. Heart failure from getting up to turn on Top of the Pops, really, when Nick is continually risking her neck jumping the Cut on Buster, outwitting spies and child abductors etc. What's Marie's function in the novels, though?

I've always found her characterisation as chilling as her death. Lest we imagine that all humanity is as upright, vivid and vaguely heroic as the Marlows, who, whatever their individual defaulting, do have a collective blonde glamour at Kingscote, AF gives us Marie, repellently plain, cowardly, unpopular, untalented, untruthful and clammy-handedly desperate for approval. Does AF give her a single redeeming feature, or so much as a moment of sympathy? Is she only there to make the Marlows extra vivid? Or to show us moments of moral compunction in Nicola as distinct from other characters? I suppose one other thought is that AF uses Marie to buck the trend of schools reforming the substandard, a la the Chalet - she never 'improves', but the depiction of her awfulness from Nick's POV is more detailed and more disgusted than the other 'flat' character failures, like the 'steaming nit' Gina French.

I don't have my AF books to hand, and can't produce the brief section of Autumn Term (the rickyard scene) which is from Marie's POV, which talks about her fear of farm animals and lack of athleticism, or her excruciating attempt after the play to help Nick clear up, and am not remembering clearly their tenor. Or in End of Term when she is left out of the twins' swap-over for the match.

Thoughts?
[identity profile] ex-ajhalluk585.livejournal.com
I wonder what other members of the community think about Kingscote as a school? One of the strengths of Forest, to me, is that Kingscote comes over both as authentically rather awful but also an environment which Nicola (for example) finds it devastating to imagine not being part of.

Rowan and Jan (who are two of the most mature characters in the series) are both characterised by their scepticism about whether Kingscote actually matters; essentially, Rowan grows beyond Kingscote very fast as soon as she leaves it, and Jan never is really part of the structure at all (something for which the staff consistently and with that sort of plausible, long-rankling grudge-bearing that seems to be characteristic of a certain type of teacher punish her; except she is so uninterested in the game that she doesn't really seem to notice that by their standards she's losing heavily at it). Lois's hanging desperately on to the school at a time when the rest of the Sixth are looking forward, growing up, is very definitely another aspect of Lois's flawed character.

But - is Kingscote a leading school, a good school or merely a school? Or, if you wanted to create a spectrum, with, I suppose, Dotheboys Hall at one end, and the Chalet at the other, where would you place Kingscote?

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