[identity profile] jackmerlin.livejournal.com
I know this has been brilliantly covered in fanfic, but I have been searching back through old threads and can't see that it has ever been discussed in a thread here. In Peter's Room we are told as a casual aside, that Trennels was built by a Joshua Marlow, who made his pile in the slave trade.
Presumably this is historically likely. No-one got to build a house like Trennels without doing something dubious at some point; if not the slave trade, then employing children in the mines / being a slum landlord / driving small farmers off their land etc. Maybe AF was inspired by a real life stately home that she'd visited that had been built using money from the slave trade.
My question is this really: why did AF toss this fact into the story at all? Would an original child reader have queried how Trennels existed? There seems no need to mention it at all.
Peter is romanticising Malise at the point where he thinks about Joshua. Is the mention of one dodgy ancestor meant to alert the reader to the possibility that Malise might not be all he seems?
Is it a sneaky dig at the Marlow's Protestant forebears? Patrick's ancestors were busy being martyrs for their faith and suffering discrimination for being Catholics - but look what the Protestants (with their Protestant work ethic and all) did?
Is it too much of a stretch to wonder if AF had Mansfield Park on her mind, given MP and PR's themes of play-acting and love triangles, and indirectly answered the question of whether the Bertrams were slave-owners?
What do the younger Marlows think about living in a house built with slave money? Peter seems to think of it as accepted and unremarked family history. The entail means of course that they can never wash their hands of it, but do they ever have any sort of conversation about it? (And yes, this will be my prompt for the summer fic fest if we have one again!)
[identity profile] failedspinster.livejournal.com
First time poster here so please accept apologies in advance if this is breaking any rules. Below the cut you'll find my first ever piece of fan fiction, a short 600-word "deleted scene", if you like, from the end of chapter 9 of Peter's Room, when Nicola has realised that Patrick and Ginty are Gondalling without her. Feedback most welcome.

A Falcon Mantling )
[identity profile] ankaret.livejournal.com
(or, have your mods gone entirely round the bend? The answer, very probably)

As [livejournal.com profile] scarletlobster recently reminded me, seven years ago [livejournal.com profile] 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 [livejournal.com profile] 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
[identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com
Posting on behalf of [personal profile] legionseagle, to whom, many thanks for a really incisive and thought-provoking set of discussion posts. And thanks to everyone for their contributions in comments.


These two chapters take us right through to the end of the book. They largely parallel End of Term in that Nicola goes from her lowest point in the whole book to her highest. Forest, though, as always in dialogue with the genre, doesn't allow this to wipe out what's gone before; relationships have fundamentally shifted in the course of the book (even more than in EoT) and what's lost will not be regained – although possibly Nicola's better understanding with Rowan is some compensation.

Chapter Ten: Hounds are Running )

Chapter Eleven: The Dispatch is Delivered )
Any thoughts about the post-Gondal ending? Round-up? Over-arching themes? Was the writer of the blurb copy right after all?
[identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com
Again, posting on behalf of[personal profile] legionseagle, a little later than planned owing to some email glitches at my end, for which, apologies.


Chapter One: Peter the Woodcutter )

Chapter Two: Treasure Trove )

Chapter Three: A Parsonage Called Haworth )

General discussion points – a few that spring to mind:

Superstition – from the "X" drawn across the water to avert a quarrel to the whole business with the shippen. The Devil on the roof-tree – yes, no or on the fence?
The Marlows in transition, from holiday visitors to members of the local community.
Rowan, working side by side with Ted Coulthard and Mr Tranter: can we say the relationship modelled here is, "Wet behind the ears but promising junior officer, very senior NCOs"?
Peter's character – bearing in mind earlier questions about Peter's judgement (of himself and others, and of situations). How does his obsession with Malise tie in? What about the Foley parallel?
Ginty and Patrick. Patrick and Nicola. Wedges, exclusion, serially monogamous friendships and awkwardness.
The Brontes as filtered through Marlow consciousnesses – a match made in Hell?
Gondal – again, so far as we've got, what issues are already developing? Do the hidden agendas (of Ginty, identifying with Emily Bronte, of Peter, identifying with Malise, of Lawrie, just wanting to act at any price) complement or conflict?

Anything else? Have at it!
[identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com
NOTE: I'm posting on behalf of [personal profile] legionseagle, who's taking over the readthrough for the duration of Peter's Room, for which, many thanks. Below is her introduction to the book. More detailed discussion points to follow later today, but do feel free to get stuck in.


So we start the Peter's Room Chapter by Chapter read-through. Peter's Room is probably my favourite Forest; I flip between that and The Cricket Term probably with the seasons.

Peter's Room is so very much a winter book, with its sparse, evocative depiction of a place the Marlows have only previously seen not just during the summer holidays, but as a holiday destination. Now they're starting to see themselves as part of the local community; tentatively and unsure of their welcome, but definitely as residents and not visitors.

Weather matters. Snow might mean the death of animals, not just the children being cooped up indoors or able to go tobogganing.

Before getting into the detailed analysis of the first three chapters, it's worth setting out some overarching questions about themes and tropes in the books as a whole. If Autumn Term and End of Term examine (and subvert) many of the tropes of the classic school story, and Falconer's Lure began life as a summer holiday pony book, where does Peter's Room fit within children's literature?

This leads into the second question; what, exactly, is Peter's Room about? And why? The blurb on the inside flap of the dust-sheet of the Faber edition is absolutely clear; whoever wrote it sees Peter's Room in the grand tradition of didactic fiction, whose apogee is The History of the Fairchild Family.

As usual, there is more in Miss Forest's story than appears on the surface, and this time – interwoven with the Merricks' Twelfth-Night party, Ginty's growing friendship with Patrick and a splendid account of a local Meet – she gives a clear warning of the dangers inherent in make-believe prolonged beyond the proper age.
The whole of fiction could be condemned (and in many times and places has been condemned) as "make-believe prolonged beyond the proper age."

Hopefully, the read-through will bring out more subtleties with the theme than the blurb suggests. So, have at it!
[identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com
I'm just about to write a post-canon Merricks' Twelfth Night party (2 years on from that in Peter's Room.), and I'm making some POV decisions. From whose viewpoint would you like to see the party, and why? Peter's been packed off to Selby's for the Christmas hols, sorry, I had to limit the cast a bit. The only definite decision so far is a staff POV (probably Mrs Bertie 'helping out', as she's much better characterised than Nellie). I can't promise everything will make it into the finished fic, but I'll try and write a ficbit for everything suggested.
[identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com
I've been revisiting The Cricket Term and thinking about its depiction of Nicola's reading life. There are a good few mentions of how vivid and immediate fiction is to her: right at the beginning, when she notes that Ramage and Hornblower are contemporaries, and Ann is baffled; when she's being dressed down by Miss Cromwell over The Mask of Apollo and notes to herself that it's 'grotty' that the book seems to have been placed on the Limited list merely for its homoerotic content; when she thinks that when she's stodged through Crommie's bread and butter she'll read Hornblower again, but not the late books containing Hornblower's ageing and Bush's death. I'm not saying that Nicola actually writes Niko/Dion or Hornblower/Bush in her spare time or anything (I think she'd find the notion a bit icky) but that her fannish absorption might go some way to explaining her distaste for roleplaying in Peter's Room -- she already has a private fanlife, and the Gondal fantasy both encroaches dangerously on that and makes it (ugh) public. Forgive me if this has all been said before and better.
[identity profile] intrepid--fox.livejournal.com
In Peter's Room, when Rowan and Nick are having heir midnight bonding session over cocoa and an abandoned lamb, Rowan asks Nick* whether she wants hers "weak, strong or Navy."  I've never heard the expression otherwise, and can't make up my mind whether Navy implies "extra strong" or "medium." Does anyone know for sure?

*or possibly the other way round - no book to hand.
[identity profile] theladymoppet.livejournal.com
I recently snapped up reasonably-priced copies of PR and CT and re-read them for the first time in quite a few years. Here are some of my thoughts:

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.
[identity profile] jackmerlin.livejournal.com
Peter's Room is probably my favourite AF and I've reread it many times, but I've never properly thought this thought through before, why when they invent their fantasy world do all the female Marlows choose to be male characters? It's not just the era, although I know the Marlow 'boys are better than girls ethos, women can't join the navy' must have something to do with it.I remember a favourite book of mine as a child - 'Crowns' (written in much the same period) in which 4 middle-class children imagine a world in which they are kings and queens, and the female characters are quite happy to imagine themselves as explorers, adventurers, hunters, involved in palace intrigues, fighting and killing when necessary, exploring snowy mountains.. Not until Patrick and Ginty start to fancy each other do any of the Marlows invent a female character. Is romance all girls are for, even in a world they have invented themselves?
[identity profile] sheep-noises.livejournal.com
This time o' year always reminds me of

1) The Christmas Play in Wade Minster, from "End of Term" (which I don't have atm as my copy gave up the ghost and fell to pieces >:( ) ;

2) The unconventional Christmas Dinner in a cave, with poor old Ann staying home in case the phone rings :( , from "Run Away Home"; but mostly

3) "Peter's Room". For me, this is the most magical of all those magical books. I must admit I've always skipped the bits in Italics, so I still don't know what fantasy it was that they acted out that Christmas, even though I've read it dozens of times. Don't care, either. The wonderful descriptions of the day-to-day Marlow (and a bit o' Merrick) winter doings are enough to keep me going :)
[identity profile] intrepid--fox.livejournal.com
I've been reading the Mitford sisters' letters recently and was struck by how easily - but how weirdly - Peter's Room could have featured Mitfords rather than Brontës,with Ginty fancying herself as one of the more glamorous sisters, and even Peter being vaguely aware of who they were ("for after all, it's not easy to achieve complete ignorance of the Mitford sisters" or words to that effect).  It would have made for a very different story, but one with lots of strangely similar stuff about family loyalties vs poltical convictions.
[identity profile] antfan.livejournal.com
Wading through the chapter in the Marlows and their Maker that lists all the literary references, reminded me of the one I've always wanted to know the source of - and typically, its not listed.  So I'm hoping one of you literary types might know.

It's Peters Room, p55 of my Faber paperback, and they are roasting chestnuts in the Shippen and Ginty says it has a   
"sort of Great Hall feeling - the fire in front and everywhere else madly dark and cold."
"Like the sweep thy sad strings musican one," said Lawrie unexpectedly.  
Ginty agrees and says "we've even got the old hound whimpering in the corner"

Anyone any idea what this - poem, presumably - might be?
[identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
So, um, I seem to be writing for the prompt 'Anything set in Gondal'.  Without a copy of Peter's Room to hand.  This can only end in tears.

Can anyone help me with surnames for Crispian and Malise?  And possibly I might need Nicholas too.
[identity profile] purplerabbits.livejournal.com
Forgive me if I'm misquoting cos I don't have the book in front of me, but does anyone know exactly what mrs bertis means by "getting at" rooms and what "the rough" is since, at the risk of exposing myself as a slob, I am no wiser than Peter about housework that isn't washing up and laundry and the like...

Long time listener - first time caller as they say
owl: Stylized barn owl (nemesis)
[personal profile] owl

The remaining four novels:





Now we return to your regularly scheduled discussion.

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] smellingbottle.livejournal.com
I cast an eye over Peter's Room (which I don't own, and know far less well than other AFs) lately, and found myself wondering about the sections that deal with the Brontes, before the Marlow/Merrick Gondal kicks off - the conversation in the Shippen where Ginty tells the others about the Brontes, and Gondal and Angria, and the slightly later one where Karen (all hot water bottle and Thucydides) nudges Nick and Ginty through a sort of Socratic dialogue about art vs life and the general wrongheadedness of adult addiction to fantasy games. (I suppose there weren't role-playing societies at Oxford in her day, and one can imagine her opinion of on-line RPGs...)

It's completely fascinating and the usual intellectually-sophisticated AF stuff, but I found myself wondering whether the novel actually required so much Bronte material? It's probably my own favourite part of the novel, but, after all, all the characters in PR have independent capacities for starring in their own fantasies, as shown in the novels as a whole, and the collective fantasy isn't so much of a stretch from Nick's Scott or Lawrie being a resistance fighter when her conduct mark is read out etc etc. So - in some ways the Bronte stuff reads like a compulsively readable red herring. I'd forgotten simply how much of the early part of the novel those two conversations actually take up, effectively postponing the start of the 'action'. Also, I have no memory of when I first read the novel, but I read the Brontes young, and so probably knew what AF was talking about from other sources, but there may well have been readers completely befogged by the very elliptical way in which the Brontes' story is told by various AF characters. I was talking about it to a children's book agent friend the other night and she didn't think that kind of digression would get past an editor these days.

So - how effective/necessary is the Bronte stuff to Peter's Room? If you read PR young and without any knowledge of the Brontes, were you at sea or not? Did anyone read the Brontes because of PR? And, because this occurred to me as I was reading, how does anyone imagine the Marlow/Merrick Gondal to have been carried out, exactly? We know they don't act it out by actually moving around and doing the actions, apart from the very end, because Patrick says so, but are we to imagine them taking it in turns to narrate a kind of recitative, something like the italicised narrative the reader gets? Or just speaking their own parts?
[identity profile] smellingbottle.livejournal.com
Partly because of the changing timeschemes, I always have difficulty envisaging the Marlows' clothes, especially the non-handmedowns and the various special party dresses of Run Away Home and Doris's fabrications in Peter's Room.

I don't have a copy of the latter, but in RAH, Nick gets as a Christmas present of a dress of 'green and white striped silk', while Lawrie's has 'a black velvet bodice and black taffeta skirt sprigged with roses', both with matching velvet 'wraps'. Miranda's dress, given to Nicola after the Changear row (with its very specifically seventies tunics with pea-green swirls and tartan trousers), is 'cream-coloured silk, finely pleated, falling from a high yoke' and makes Nick look ravishingly like Ginty. AF is always attentive to fabric and colour, but I, for one, have absolutely no sense of what any of these dresses would look like in practice, other than the fact that Miranda's dress is clearly (at least for Nick) a version of The Platonic Dress which makes the wearer look endlessly beautiful.

(a) Is AF being deliberately non-specific on these, with the aim of not dating her work? Or because she is not all that interested in the specifics of people's appearance, famously non-specific on Esther's beauty etc?
(b) How does anyone else picture these garments?
(c) Bonus points for incorporating references to the Bridesmaid's Horror, anything from Mum's Chest, or their ideas on how an entire school uniform could possibly be scarlet and not make Kingscote look as though it is drowning in arterial blood.


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