( A Falcon Mantling )
( A Falcon Mantling )
Just because she's so fond of Nicola and feels she's defending her against an unjust accusation of being unfair in not relinquishing the role of SB to Lawrie? Or because Miranda has put her on the spot and she has to say yes or no to a direct question? Or does she actually think Lawrie is a bit of an idiot? If so, why? Because Lawrie is a performer, when Esther suffers agonies at the mere prospect of doing anything of that nature (apart from netball...), or because Lawrie whines and strops so much when she doesn't get her way, and unlike Esther, makes no effort to hide her incapacities ('I can't light gas. It bangs at me')?
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)..?
So I finally read Spring Term and on the whole enjoyed it much more than I expected to, am looking forward to pleasant rereads. Didn’t agree with everything, but there you are. I did take issue, though, with something the author mentions in her afterword: that the Marlows in general and Nicola in particular, usually very much against lying, depart from this point of honor in Run Away Home, and that she has decided to assume this was a temporary aberration and return them to their previous stance in Spring Term.
It seems to me, thinking about this, that Nicola (used as a proxy for most-Marlows-in-general) admits of two kinds of lying: lying for one’s own convenience, which is a bad thing (cf Lois, Marie, Tim and the pears, etc.), and lying in a good cause, which is acceptable. For instance, Nicola’s conscience seems untroubled, at the time and thereafter, by lying her head off to Foley (over Peter’s “death”) way back in The Marlows and the Traitor. This was necessary to save their lives, therefore it isn’t a moral issue. I think the whole Edward Oeschli Project was filed under “a good cause and therefore acceptable to lie about” by the Marlows, excepting Ann. (And possibly, after the fact, Rowan—now there’s a fic I’d like someone to write. I always had the feeling that the last scene of Run Away Home was a major emotional turning point for Rowan, and would have liked to see something of that in Spring Term.)
It also interested me to think about Tim, specifically Tim being told off for lying (about Esther’s absence) by Miss Cromwell just before the Play in End of Term. We’re given the impression that Tim is deeply shaken by Miss Cromwell’s calling her a liar, which—while rather moving—seems a little out of character. My guess would always have been that Tim would think to herself “But obviously it wasn’t a bad thing to do, because if I had come out with ‘Esther’s not here’ the whole Lawrie substitution plan wouldn’t have worked out, but I can’t tell Crommie that because she’ll never see it my way,” and have remained silent, resigned rather than upset. But not? (As well, chance has allowed Nicola here to let the more morally flexible Tim do the lying, a handy escape route which does not seem to give Nicola any qualms.)
I don’t know what I’m talking about any more, but those are some of the ideas I had about the way lying works out in some of the books. Any thoughts…?
I used two extracts from End of Term, the Nativity Play in Wade Minster, for Christmas week specials.
1. The Bronte discussion in the library in PR is fascinating but are we really supposed to agree with Karen that Gondal and Angria were a complete waste of time? Charlotte gave up Angria but it's an obvious influence on the Rochester backstory in Jane Eyre. I seem to remember from Juliet Barker's biography of the Brontes that Wuthering Heights is much more of a Gondal story than it seems as the Gondal setting was similar to Yorkshire. If Gondal and Angria were essential to the published works, weren't they a necessary part of the Brontes' creative development? Has critical opinion changed on this in the decades since PR was published?
2. When Peter pins Nicola down and twists her arm behind her back, it seems cruel and out of character for him. It could just be that he hasn't quite realised that he is getting too strong to fight with her like they did as children - but then I remembered that Foley does something similar to Nicola in TMATT and I wondered if Peter was subconsciously copying him. Foley gets mentioned in PR (because of the treachery theme coming up again I guess) and it's stated that Peter doesn't remember all that happened. I wondered if the arm-twisting incident was something he internalised and is now acting out - so that, whatever he says, Foley is still an influence on him.
3. Cricket Term - how far ahead is Karen planning? She tells Nicola that Colebridge Grammar is one of her arguments for staying in the Tranters' cottage. I wonder if she is looking ahead to starting a family of her own, because if they save on school fees and/or her family waive the rent for the cottage it makes it harder for Edwin to say they can't afford any more children. I can't see him being keen on going through the dirty nappy stage again and maybe she is already thinking how to counter his arguments?
Otherwise, I'm not sure why Karen is so keen to stay near to Trennels. Edwin doesn't get on that well with her family and you would think they'd do better making a fresh start further away.
Or, for that matter, what would Nicola - or Patrick, or any of the others - have thought?
I should add that I'm asking this as an interested outsider who watched most of it and is eagerly awaiting discussion, but probably doesn't know enough to be able to actually contribute much.
Of course Nicola wants to know that her Protestant ancestors were sincere in their belief, if only to match Patrick's. This would be the proof she needs. But I don't see it affecting her interest in Catholicism.
The other person I can see it affecting is Ann, but I'm not sure in what way. Perhaps a quiet pride, although deploring the bloodiness of the times?
(I'm off for France on a Battlefields Tour with my son's school for the next 10 days)
I was named after Nicola Marlow, and very pleased I was too when I read the books at around 10-12. I always identified with Nicola because of our shared name and because she was what I wanted to be and wasn't--confident and competent at games--and was--a tomboy, but obsessed with the RAF instead of the Navy. :-)
This year I decided to read all the books I can lay my hands on, and I'm enchanted and very impressed by their quality, depth, and understanding of teenagers. I think I've sorted out ages and terms thanks to this great comm, but I have a question.
I've just finished 'End of Term', which I don't think I've read before. The only bit that doesn't make sense to me is why Nicola is chosen for the Shepherd Boy by Keith. She bases her casting decisions on character (and possibly looks and size) rather than ability, so why does she choose Nicola when Nicola, as far as she knows, has been so unreliable at turning up for netball practices she was excluded from the team? Lawrie on the other hand has done nothing to upset authority, and doesn't already have an important role. OK, I know it was for Plot Reasons, but is there an explanation I can accept? It's so illogical to pick the best soloist they have for the shepherd boy and not the best actor.
But when I first read the series, I was pleased to see that not only did Nicola read Hornblower and Lord Peter Wimsey, and dislike Dickens, all of which I also did, but that she and Lawrie had read The Flight of the Heron. I'd never met anyone, fictional or otherwise, who had also read it, apart from my mother and sister, and I was amazed (I still haven't met anyone else who's heard of it). Has anyone else had the same experience?
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?
When I was reading the David Eddings series The Belgariad and associated other books, it mentioned that when you have twins, one will be more dominant over the other. One sign of which is that the less dominant twin will tend to speak about 'we' and 'us' and think of themselves as part of a set more than as an individual.
I'm not sure how much credence to give this idea, considering it was in a work of fiction. Particularly as I'm thinking about the idea in relation to another set of fictional twins. *grin* However, I've read elsewhere about the idea of dominance in twins.
In the Marlow series who do you see as the 'dominant' twin, if there is such a thing? Who tries to assert their individuality more?
My opinion (which is open to swaying by a good argument) is that Lawrie is more focussed on twinhood as her identity than Nicola. On the one hand she wants to be a famous actress and do her own thing, but she also seems to want to drag Nicola along with her. Yet then she doesn't like Nicola being in the limelight. She tends to be manipulative and whinge when she doesn't get her own way.
However, isn't it Lawrie who instigates the twin-swaps to further her own ends, which seems to show that she has some dominance over Nicola? (Actually I don't recall to well the finer details of those occasions.)
Yet it was Lawrie who tried to cut her own hair to match Nicola's new [accidental] haircut. Also, Lawrie seems to need more support from her bosom pal, to bolster her sense of self.
Has anyone else any thoughts on this, or heard other theories about the twins and their personalities?
I actually first started looking two or three years ago for a fan-written sequel to "Run Away Home" and found nada, ny-et, nothing. Everyone I knew seemed to think it odd I liked these 'silly boarding school stories', especially as the author couldn't even set them in one time period! However, I loved them, even though there were many things that were dissimilar to my own boarding experience. I suppose in some ways, I wish that was how school had been for me.
I've always wondered what Nicola went on to do. Did she eventually take Latin and Greek so she could read Homer in the original? Did she end up sailing around the world and, if so, what did she do after that - write a book about it? I'm definitely a romantic and hope that Nicola and Patrick eventually got together.
One thing I'd love to discuss is the relationship between Lawrie and Nicola, and their different personalities.
Could some kind soul please enlighten me as to why Lawrie, in response to Nick waking her on New Year's day in Run Away Home, says 'Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits'? To which Nicola responds 'Oh, rabbits, yes, I'd forgotten', after which we're told 'But was too late. She'd spoken.'
Is this somehow connected to bringing good luck in the New Year? (You say 'rabbits' before saying anything else? You invoke the talismanic power of the New Year Bunny?) Although at breakfast Lawrie is perturbed at having forgotten to see in the New Year the night before, and has to be consoled by Giles saying that having eaten twelve mince pies will balance out the bad luck - which I'd never come across before either. Clearly my New Years are very culturally impoverished.
ETA: Thanks, everyone. This was completely unfamiliar to me, and my new-found knowledge has made me resolve never to share a bed with any of you on the first of the month.
So good to find this site, full of other people who share a passions for the Marlows Fascinating that people have such very different responses. Never occurred to me that you could love the books but not Nicola, or that anyone actually liked Patrick Merrick….
So I’d like to ask opinions about something I find puzzling. All the obits/biogs say Antonia Forest was such a strong catholic, and yet why (to my mind) are her noncatholic/nonreligious characters so much more appealing? And her catholic characters so strongly unappealing. Mme Orly is a nightmare –fun to read about, but a nightmare – and then there’s Patrick… I suppose he is the major example. To me he always seems both arrogant and a prig, and his religious certainties always seemed a big part of this. He is just way too certain of himself and his beliefs.
Some examples: In conversation with Rowan, he states that of course he never has any difficulties at all in believing in God (End of Term). Nicola, following a conversation with him, reflects that she hopes her ancestors were genuine believers in Protestantism, as anything else would seem so inferior to the Merricks, with their acceptance of possible martyrdom. (interesting: she seems to detect in his religion a kind of dynastic superiority rather than a personal spirituality!) In the same conversation Patrick makes clear that he sees the whole of English history through a Catholic prism – completely writing off the Tudors and the Restoration, and stating that of course his family supported Charles not ‘Orrible Oliver during the Civil War. (And more fool them, as Oliver Cromwell’s regime was notable for its toleration towards Catholics – far more so than after the Restoration.) Patrick’s certainties (religious, social, intellectual) are not even much shaken up by his long talk with Jukie (Thuggery Affair) although he does at least find Jukie’s DIY theology baffling, rather than amusing (as we are told would usually be the case). Is such cast-iron certainty/superiority really an attractive feature in someone who is only fifteen/sixteen? Wouldn’t you want to shoot him for such smugness!
Most tellingly, I can’t think of any notable example of kindness or generosity by Patrick, religiously inspired or not. Quite the opposite, in the whole betrayal of Nicola for Ginty -which makes it all the more annoying she is just delighted to get him back!) (Oops – I suppose Patrick’s willingness to help Jukie – at some personal risk – is an example here. However, Jukie dies and the incident seems to have no lasting effect upon Patrick at all.)
ALSO I can’t help noticing that AF herself chooses for her main characters people who are both open-minded and reflective and generally of no strong religious conviction at all. (Does this mean she likes them best? Or she thinks they are more appealing to readers? )In End of Term, Nicola is both thoughtful and intrigued by the different religious beliefs she encounters, almost sociologically observant, but very far from expressing any particular belief herself. This makes Nicola a lot more appealing in my eyes…she is also generally a kinder person than Patrick, and far more reflective about herself and her own behaviour. For that matter, Lawrie (who states that she thought Christianity was some sort of mythology, like the Olympians, and even tries to make bargains with God) is a lot more appealing than Ann (full of conventional religious piety).
Then there’s Nicholas and Will (Player’s Boy/Rebels). AF’s Will is surely one of her most appealing characters: wise, ironic, shrewd, detached…and he has no interest in supporting the Old Religion. Furthermore, he believes Nicholas is right to betray the Essex plotters regardless of the fact that some of them are hoping to restore the Catholic faith. (He and Nicholas’s scruples and regrets about this are to do with personal loyalties/friendships, not religion.)