[identity profile] bookroom.livejournal.com
Why does Esther think Lawrie is an ass? And, given how timid and diffident she is, why does she come out and say so in the Tim/Miranda Shepherd Boy altercation during the art lesson in End of Term? It seems so out of character, and all the other characters obviously think so, too.

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')?
[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] nnozomi.livejournal.com
( I hope it’s all right suddenly to post here; have lurked for some time but not contributed before. Please ignore my ramblings if not interesting/pertinent.)

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…?
[identity profile] tosomja.livejournal.com
Have just been reading End of Term and was struck by how vicious  Tim is to Nicola and how much it is not really ever explained why.  What has gone wrong since Autumn Term when Tim and Nicola seemed as good if not better friends to Tim and Lawrie?  I can see what Lawrie gets out of the relationship but what's in it for Tim? And what is going on in those conversations when Lawrie says she must talk to Tim - is Tim just nodding and sympathising and agreeing how awful Nicola is? if so, it doesn't sound much like the Tim we see the rest of the time...I am confused.
[identity profile] antfan.livejournal.com
Maybe it's time to talk about Tim Keith.  Don't think there have been previous threads about her.  

I was recently struck by a bit in the otherwise not especially informative Marlows and their Maker about the creation of Tim.  Apparently AF was writing Autumn Term without her, and her friend (GB Stern) said why shouldn't the twins make use of being the head girls sisters, and how she had always wanted to read a school story with a headmistress's niece who did take full advantage - and hey, presto, the character was born.  AF completely rewrote the book.  And AF commented that she never really felt that Tim was one of "her" characters as a result.

Reading Autumn Term and End of Term, especially as a child, I never liked Tim.  She could be so intensely, bitingly hateful to people (mainly Nicola).   But rereading the early Marlow stories recently as an adult - Falconer's Lure and Marlows and the Traitor - I have been rather off put by the feel of the books, the undiluted establishment-y feel of the naval/gentry Marlows, and I wonder if what I am missing is Tim's presence, which adds that subversive voice?  Without her, Autumn Term would be a very different book, and a lot duller.  Then again, I prefer Cricket Term of the school stories, where Tim has moved somewhat to the sidelines - been tamed, almost.  I'm not sure AF knows quite what to do with her, from that point.  Will she become head girl?  What will happen to her?

Any Tim haters/fans out there?  What do you think?
[identity profile] antfan.livejournal.com


Has anybody noticed a curious thing about the books, that while the Marlows themselves are spectacularly fecund, just about every other major character - Patrick, Tim, Miranda, Esther….is an only child? 


I’ve been wondering for a bit if this is more than coincidence….it seems to me that AF (who is on record as saying she began the Marlow stories very much with publication in mind) made sure to choose both a genre (school story) and a type of family (large, naval, adventurous, anglican) that were both acceptable and recognisable in terms of current children’s fiction.  When Tim describes the various Marlow sisters at the start of AT, you can almost see how AF was thinking, setting them up: Kay scholarly, Rowan good at games, Ginty a bit wild but with good stuff in her etc etc…the “types” that inhabit so many school stories.  Giles and Commander Marlow, of course, are both fine, upstanding naval types, and Mrs Marlow is a typically clichéd docile mother (IMOshe gets more interesting/complex in subsequent books).


However, as we all know, AF’s books are NOT simply genre school stories, and it seems to me that one way she made them more complex was by introducing characters who in some manner diverge from the mainstream and so tend to present rather different perspectives/values.  So we have Patrick (Catholic) and Miranda (Jewish) and Esther (divorced parents) who all of them at various times present slightly unusual slants on accepted conventions/values, and certainly contrast strongly with the more conventional Marlows.  And then there is Tim (artistic father, well-travelled) who tends to subvert and undermine practically all established school girl story values.   If you try to imagine Autumn Term without Tim it is just about impossible – never mind the plot, but you would end up with a far more conventional piece of boarding school fiction.  (Whether, as reader, you actually like Tim is another matter entirely!)


These “onlys” all have something of the outsider about them, and so it is only fitting that they should be “only children” – used to standing alone.  Of course, they all have a foot in mainstream too: Miranda and Patrick’s families are rich, Esther’s dad is a barrister, Tim is the headmistress’s niece!  A bit like AF’s books themselves: on the one hand, genre stories about upperclass families, full of ponies, team games and squabbles in the guides…and yet as we all know there’s a whole lot more? Or (not for the first time )am I spinning a theory out of nowhere?


AF was also an only child, and I also can’t help wondering if any of them represent her or aspects of her charater.  (Based only on obits) the top candidate would seem to be Miranda (Londoner, Reform Jewish but with some interest – expressed in End of Term – for Christianity) but then Patrick shares AF’s real name and Catholic views.  And I believe both AF and Esther like gardening...
[identity profile] lavenderhill.livejournal.com
Hi there – I am also new to this group, but have been an avid reader of AF for over 15 years. I have all the books, and have re-read them frequently.

I have been thinking for a while that the Marlow stories would make a great early Sunday evening family television series. When you think about it, they combine the teenage school highs and lows of The OC (bullies/ school teams/ boyfriends) with the kind of drama reserved for Eastenders (step families/ runways/ child abduction..). It also has some kind of glamour, as the main protagonists are of a class that most people are not.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realised that the stories would have to be set in the present day, in order to gain enough interest from viewers, and also the backing from a production firm. This started me thinking about how to update some of the storylines, which are often a product of the time they were written in. The telephone saga in The Attic Term, would be an interesting one, although in my mind, I would have Ann owning the ‘family’ mobile, on which calls home are made. Ginty ends up using the office phone due to the queues and lack of privacy on the payphones near the common room. Some schools are strict about mobiles and insist that the housemistress keeps them until after classes are over, and I could see Kingscote doing this, and Ann obviously obeying.

Another issue would be the make-believe in Peter’s Room, which I cannot see teenagers in 2006 doing. An interesting way round this, would be to have ‘Gondal’ as a new online computer game, which they start playing whilst hold up in Peter’s Shippen, and gradually become addicted to – apart from Nicola, who would much rather be herself out doing something! There was some research done about these kind of online ‘quest’ games, where quite ordinary people in real life, are ‘kings’ of these online worlds. This plot would not only allow the story to develop as it does in Peter’s Room, but also look at the effect of kids spending too much time on computers..

The Thuggery Affair I would love to turn into Chavs, but this is probably rather un-PC!! And the Marlows and the Traitor would have to be drug smuggling as I don’t want to touch 21st century terrorism..

Talking to my sister, another AF fan, about this, we got onto the characters. She says that Nicola is unlike any modern day teenage girl. What 12/13/14 year old is mad about the Navy and into cricket? If there was someone like that at school, they would be really picked on by the ‘trendy gang’ .But I don’t know – I think Nicola as she is in the books would work, and I would still have her dropping her new penknife out of the train (do modern trains have windows that open, though?). She is also safe from the ‘trendies’ in that she a Marlow, and is actually part of the Main Clique with Tim, Miranda and Lawrie. I would, however, have Lawrie and Tim as being quite skinny-jeaned/ Top Shop cool, whereas Miranda would be in Seven jeans and a Chloe top. Nick would be more jeans and tatty converse boots (previously Rowan’s). If any of you live in London, the Top Shop, H&M and Zara on Kensington High Street on a Saturday are full of upper middle class teenage girls in all their glory…. Just to give you an idea of what Kingscote girls would be like in 2006…

Anyways, just wanted to share these thoughts, and wondered what you all think. Would it work? Is it worth me writing a proposition and sending it to the BBC??!

Apols for long post...
[identity profile] carmine-rose.livejournal.com
So... um... I didn't realise my post yesterday was going to engender quite that much debate! Maybe this will get a discussion going with a less "poles-apart" feeling.

Who would you prefer as a best friend, Tim or Miranda? And why? And why would Tim be attracted to Lawrie, since they seem quite dissimilar? And dislike (if Nicola's feelings are correct) Nicola?

Was Peter reasonable to feel jealous of Nicola's growing friendship with Patrick? Or Nicola to feel resentful of Ginty's relationship with him? (If she did feel resentful... Would you say she was actually jealous, and if so, are her feelings for Patrick romantic or just friendly?)

Which of the Marlows would you rather have as a best friend? And why?



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