[identity profile] jackmerlin.livejournal.com
I found myself pondering this in between my summer holiday reading. One of the favourite features of the AF books is the references to books the characters are reading / have read; and many people, like myself, seem to have tried new authors simply because Nicola was reading them.
Although the series crept into the eighties most of the books they mention are from previous decades, apart perhaps from Nicola's book token buy in RAH? So, I started to wonder, if AF had kept writing until the present day, what books would the Marlows be reading now?
Would Karen have found escape from her own strained family set-up in the dysfunctional families of Anne Tyler?
Would Ginty have adored the Hunger Games, seen herself as Catniss and enjoyed lots of lovely fantasies about hiding out in a cave with Patrick, nursing his injuries and kissing him as much as possible?
Would Nicola have enjoyed the archeological detective stories of Elizabeth Peters? Presumably she'd have been keen on Patrick O' Brien, as AF was.
I don't suppose Rowan gets much time to read - a page or two of a Dick Francis or one of his successors, before falling asleep at night. What might she take on holiday if she ever gets the chance?
And Rose, having read everything in the Trennels playroom, will be a fan of Jacquelin Wilson. Will Chas like Harry Potter?
I'm stuck on Lawrie. I'm thinking she might be into some of the Youtubers' spin-off books; that's if she ever has time to read any more, what with spending all her time on Youtube watching make-up videos?

I'd be interested to know what other books people think they might be reading now?
[identity profile] jumpingpowder.livejournal.com
I wondered if anyone else had read the school stories of Evelyn Smith, writing in the 1920s and someone Forest remembered reading though not one of her favourites? Lovely characterisation. They're republished and on kindle at the moment for £4 or so each. Seven Sisters at Queen Anne's has a few striking turns of phrase and themes which recur in Autumn Term; stern head, for example, leaving girls feeling 'bruised' and telling one that 'The prefect system has had a long and successful record at Q Anne's, X, and I should be sorry if it were to be spoiled, particularly sorry if it were to be spoiled when you were head girl...';large family,youngest sibling with trailing stockings, and a hugely successful play for those excluded from school event written up hastily in exercise books. Things which stuck in the mind, perhaps!
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (happy ships)
[identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
Just a quick post about a book on Shakespeare's London that I was told about last night, which might be of interest to readers of the Players books. The Guardian short review:

Part of the Arden Shakespeare series, this fascinating study argues that although Shakespeare rarely wrote about London – none of his plays is set in the city of his own day – it played a central role in shaping his imagination: “The size, diversity, noise, smell, chaos, anarchy and sheer excitement of London can be felt in all that Shakespeare writes.” The exact date when the playwright moved to London is not known, but it’s clear that by 1592 he was living and working in the capital and would remain there for the next 20 years. The eight chapters (each on a separate play) explore the symbolic power of key locations, beginning in the west of the city and moving east. The first tackles Tyburn – the city’s place of execution where as many as 60,000 died – using London’s bloodiest site to frame his most violent play: Titus Andronicus. Later chapters move to Whitehall, then along the Strand, and finish at the Tower. It is an evocative journey that places Shakespeare’s plays in a revealing urban context.

Available from Amazon or better still your local independent bookshop!

ETA: Full title and details - Shakespeare in London by Hannah Crawforth, Sarah Dustagheer, Jennifer Young.
[identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com
This year's Renault fic exchange included a couple of Forest crossovers which people here might be interested in, if you haven't already seen them. One is by yours truly, which is here, and the other is by [personal profile] legionseagle, which is here. Not part of the exchange, but related to the Marlows/Rumpole/Renault fic is this story by [personal profile] legionseagle, which, as well as being a fascinating study of Mme Orly before she was Mme Orly, suggests a plausible origin story for Nicola's 'out cutlasses and board' look.

The whole collection is here.
[identity profile] sprog-63.livejournal.com
Badger books is having their sale: The Marlows and their Maker (£10) and Thursday Kidnapping (£8) are both featured (plus many other school stories).


run, and find out!

PS Looks like http://www.marginnotesbooks.com/ are re-issuing The Youngest Lady in Waiting (sequel to Masha this year - though it only says so on other sites, not hers.)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (widget)
[identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
When there was some discussion recently about other favourite authors, Mara Kay was mentioned by at least a couple of people, so thought some might like to know that Margin Notes Books have republished Kay's Masha. I spotted this on Gill Bilski's Facebook page, where she says:

Masha is a school story... but don't be put off by that description. She travels to St Petersburg from her country home in 1815 to attend the Smolni Institute for Noble Girls where they receive a proper education whilst being prepared for society. They stay at the school for nine years without going home and it becomes both home and family for unsophisticated, shy Masha. We see the daily life of the school and also as much of the outside world and current affairs as the school allows them to see.
I think Mara Kay is an excellent children's writer and wish she had written more. It would be invidious to pick a favourite but this is definitely around top of the list.

Gill is offering Masha for sale, or you can get it directly from the publisher, Margin Notes Books (they also publish The Whicharts, Five Farthings and a couple of Clare Mallorys).
[identity profile] jackmerlin.livejournal.com
We all love AF. But who else did you also love as a child to the extent that you reread their books many times, and still reread them occasionally as a adult. I think we could could also include on our lists books that we only discovered as adults even though they're children's books.
I read most of the AF books in the early eighties. Here is my list.
Arthur Ransome - I was introduced to these by my mother who had collected them all as a child - she eagerly awaited each new volume which usually came as birthday presents (some of them are first editions hot off the press.) I loved them all although my favourites as a child were the ones which featured Nancy Blackett the most. The one I most enjoy reading as an adult though is 'We didn't mean to go to sea'.
KM Peyton - 'Pennington's 17th Summer' is one of the most perfect books I have ever read. The character of Pennington is so well drawn. I also loved Peyton's descriptions of the countryside; her writing is incredibly evocative.
Tove Jansen - although I enjoyed the Moomintroll books as a child, it's only as an adult that I appreciate the depth, complexity and seeming simplicity of her writing and characters.
I'm going to add more to my list later but sadly real life is intruding ....
[identity profile] antfan.livejournal.com
I was watching The Railway Children and the scene where they prevent a train accident by waving their scarlet underwear to stop the train. I immediately thought "Ready Made Family!" I mean the scene where the Marlows and Dodds wave Nicola's yellow jumper to stop the train, after vandals have been mucking with the line.

AF said somewhere she loved the Railway Children - she read the E Nesbitts before writing Thursday Kidnapping - and I wondered if it was a conscious or unconscious echoing on her part?

It then struck me that the whole of "Ready Made Family" is a sort of late twentieth century Railway Children. The railway is integral all the way through, from when Mrs Marlow, Ginty and Lawrie are late because they are in "almost a nasty accident" to the arrival of the Dodds by train (Nicola and Chas go up into the engine) to Chas's obsession with trains, to travelling by train to Yetland Cove, to walking along the line (leads to ructions with Edgar) and Nicola's trip to and from Oxford. (It's on the train where Edwin says he still misses Rosemary - very evocative scene, leading Nicola to start reflecting on Latin quotes). And of course the basic situation - three children, two girls and a boy, go to stay in the country after a domestic disaster - is the same.

There's also Mr Lanyon who lends Nicola the money for her ticket and says that if the branch-line is closed - as is threatened - then what will it matter [about the money?] Which makes me wonder if AF has some sort of elegy for doomed rural train lines thing going on with this book?

Of course there are train scenes in the other books - the starts of Autumn Term, End of Term and Runaway Home, a scene in The Thuggery Affair. But in no other book is it so pervasive. (And I wonder if she didn't do a train scene in Cricket Term because she was all trained out?)

What do you reckon? Good theory...or siding to nowhere?
owl: Nicola Marlow (nicola)
[personal profile] owl
One of the pleasures of the Marlow novels for a lot of people seems to be finding that they share the characters' tastes in reading. There's only one book that I can remember that I read because I'd seen it mentioned—Brat Farrar, and I can see exactly why it's Ginty's sort of book; the situation is one she might romance about, and then there are the horses.

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?
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (marlows)
[identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
There’s been a lot of discussion on the girlsown mailing list recently about Marie Dobson and how she is bullied, and Nicola’s character in relation to this. And it’s recently segued into a discussion of how good Antonia Forest is, compared to all authors, not just school story ones. Obviously this is a community of fans, so I’m not really expecting anyone to pop up here and start explaining why they don’t really like Forest (though it’s fine if anyone wants to!). But I thought it might be interesting, since [livejournal.com profile] trennels has been quite quiet lately, to ask here what people particularly enjoy about her – style, characterisation, plot, description, drama? – and examples of that - and indeed what you don't like.

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.)
[identity profile] elizahonig.livejournal.com
I think I've asked this before and nobody came up with any suggestions, but I'm doing another edit and thought I'd try again.

Nicola gets in trouble at some point because she takes this Mary Renault novel to school with her and not only is it an extra book, and (I think) from the local library, but in the Kingscote library it's Restricted or Limited or whatever the term is.  We've talked before about her take on why it should have been Restricted; and I am sad to think that it would probably still be the equivalent of Restricted in many American school libraries today.

My question was:  what other books would have been restricted in an English girls' school?  Books that would have been deemed suitable for the Seniors but not for the Juniors?  I need something written before 1938, something that might have appealed to an adventurous 12-year-old.  I need this for my own children's book, and it's the kind of thing that's impossible for a 20-year-old American RA to figure out!  I thought that somebody here might have an idea, though.
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (marlows)
[identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
People might be interested in Out of the Attic, a collection of essays about some 'neglected' children's authors, including, natch, a chapter on Antonia Forest, by Hilary Clare based on her talk at the Forest London Day. Other authors discussed include Kitty Barne, Cynthia Harnett and Mary Treadgold. It's published by Pied Piper Publishing and the link to order it and full list of contents is here. I'm definitely tempted.
[identity profile] richenda.livejournal.com
The excellent [personal profile] oursin got me back to reading Margaret Drabble, and I've just found falconers on the Heath in The Middle Ground

Hugo,"walking alone on the heath, saw a strange sight, two young men with a huge Alsation, and hooded hawks on their  wrists."
He speculates whether hawking for small birds might be illegal in this country.
[identity profile] ex-ajhalluk585.livejournal.com
Cross posted from my own journal.

I wondered if any other AF fans had also encountered Jenny Overton? Also published by faber, her two "modern day" novels, Creed Country and The Nightwatch Winter (only the latter of the two do I own) has a tone remarkably similar to AF, particularly in relation to the Easter Play in Nightwatch Winter, which is not dissimilar to the play in End of Term (as it is used as a catalyst for action, as well as how it is described except that - more realistically, to my mind - the Overton play "wasn't a runaway success at all, just some good bits and some ordinary bits, and some dodgy bits in between". She's also like Forest, too, in the importance of religion in the lives of her characters without them ever being pi or preachy (quite remarkable, since one of them has a vocation as a nun).

I thought of it recently because I see Overton as a Christmas writer - the Easter play has the Seven Joys of Mary and the Cherry Tree Carol in it, quoted extensively - but also because she was the writer of The Thirteen Days of Christmas which is a very definitely non-AF charming fantasy set in a sort-of 17th century in which the rather staid and unimaginative Francis (who as the son of a prosperous merchant is a good catch but rather unromantic) is wooing the Mariannish Annaple, whose numerous younger siblings would be delighted if he carried her off and out of her scope for micro-managing their lives, so decide to help him with the romance side of the matter.

Anyway, are there other Overton fans out there? And did she write anything after Nightwatch Winter?
[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.



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