[identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] trennels
Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed the break and are ready for more discussion.

End of Term returns to Kingscote, a year after the beginning of Autumn Term. Anyone else wonder about what happens in those missing terms? Perhaps something to explain Rowan’s decision to leave? This has been your regularly scheduled fic prompt.

If anyone is tempted to think that Forest has rather overdone Ann’s fussiness, I’ll be pleased to disabuse them, having spent more time than I would really like around people whose attitude to catching buses, trains and planes is two hours early good, four hours early better. Ann notably isn’t a fusspot when she’s managing people who aren’t her family--the Guides in Autumn Term think of her as a good delegator--her excessive concerns for them here, I think, are juxtaposed interestingly to Nicola’s reflection on ‘feeling like a pin between two magnets labelled “Home” and “School” ’.

Tim has undergone something of a change of image, but remains able to needle Nicola as well as ever. ‘Handsome, high-spirited Marlows’ is very good, I think.

What do people make of our first glimpse of Esther, and Nicola’s judgement of her looks as beautiful? And judgements of looks in the series as a whole?

And Nicola Marlow goes AWOL from another school-bound train... I’m always very proud of the Sprog and his sparrow.

Nicola’s tact is at full tilt in dealing with Esther’s distress, and I think this handles very eloquently the pain and embarrassment of tears that you feel you should have grown out of, but which insist on springing out. But there are still some slightly dubious moral judgements here in the assumption that tears have a value, in a sense, which can be degraded by releasing them too easily, as Lawrie is implied to do--whereas Esther puts a proper value on crying because her tears are difficult and violent. While I’m endeared by the resolution of the situation in Nicola’s finding out that Esther is crying for an animal rather than a human being, it also points to quite a curious value-system. It’s one stereotypically associated with a certain sort of socially privileged Englishness; perhaps there’s also a notion embedded there that to cry for one’s parents is childish, but to cry for a dog is more respectable somehow. In any case, it’s rather telling of Esther’s relationship with her parents. The frequency of parental divorce as an experience at Kingscote is interesting, I think. The temporal flexibility that’s a feature of later books in the series doesn’t apply yet, if we take Miranda’s account of wartime evacuation as a guide, and a relatively high divorce rate might also be an indicator of a late 40s setting rather than a 50s one?

Nicola’s exchange with Ann at the end of this chapter is painfully well-observed, I think: both of them, in their different ways, missing Rowan, Ann’s illogical ‘You wouldn’t have done this to Rowan’, Nicola’s inadvertently wounding ‘I wish Rowan was here’, Ann’s mixture of relief and anger at Nicola being safe, Nicola still being rather young to recognise that relief/fury complex, the little nod back to Falconer’s Lure with ‘Ann has feelings, same like the rest of us’.





Following directly on her exchange with Ann, Nicola has another uncomfortable conversation, with Miss Redmond. Wonderfully squirmy stuff: Redmond's fulsome magnanimity, Lawrie's speechless embarrassment, and Nicola's disgust at Redmond's language of personal development: 'All this talk about letting down and not feeling ready--how could people talk like that?', Redmond's anger at the knockback. Sublime. (I also love Nicola 'being Stalky'.)

I also like the introduction of Miranda as a real character rather than an off-stage caustic presence, without quite breaking with the intimations we get of her in Autumn Term. I've long thought Miranda might be something of a self-portrait, representing the Jewish part of Forest's background as Patrick does her Catholicism.

'Someone who saw the joke at the same time as you did...' I think speaks to a lot of bright, well-read and informed children, which I think Forest must have been. And I enjoy the way that Miranda and Nicola share an intelligence that encourages candour in one another: about holidays being dreary, Karen's ineptitude as Head Girl, a shared dislike of Lois.

Poor Nicola: her first evening at school, and her fourth uncomfortable encounter, this time with Lois herself...Lois's smugness is sharply observed here, I think.

I'd love to hear what you think of Miranda's disclosure of her feelings for Janice and her hostility to 'pashes'. I tend to read this as a sort of (very quiet) coming-out. For the novel's presumed target market it's a pretty subtle distinction between the sentimentality of the worshippers at the shrine of Eileen Benson and Joyce Craig and a more firmly established romantic/sexual orientation. If I'm counting back right, the Lower V when Miranda was in IIA would have been Rowan's form. What on earth did she have to say about kirbigrips under pillows and roses in silver paper? This has been your regularly scheduled &c. I also love Miranda's irrepressible enjoyment of a row; making her a kind of anti-Ginty, I think.

The magnificent dottiness of a play cast according to character rather than talent still makes me gape and giggle. And 'Sheep: noises off' has barely staled over the quarter century I've known the novel.





(i)

Miranda's fickleness in the choice of Best Friends is funny but also unsettling; and I appreciate the indication that for all their emotional sophistication, these are characters still young enough to care deeply about who sits next to whom in class.

If Nicola prefers Cromwell just for Maths, I think I prefer her just in fiction, where I enjoy her sardonic repartee enormously: in real life she is the sort of teacher who would have spotted my weakness and gone for it mercilessly as she does for Lawrie's. But what do others think of her?

The little intimation of the swap-plot(s) to come is nice, I think. Forest handles the venerable notion of twins swapping with dash and confidence, I think, and of this we will have much more to say. But here it serves to highlight the change in friendship dynamic: Tim-Nick-and-Lawrie was already fracturing in Autumn Term, now it seems definitely to have become Tim-and-Lawrie and Nick-and-Miranda(-and-possibly-Esther).

(ii)

The rearrangements of the casting for the play are great fun, but was there ever a barmier way to go about putting on a show? Feel free to share ghastly school drama stories!

As someone who routinely roleplays Prince Charles Edward, I rather like Ginty's sense of herself as exiled reprobate, and quite understand her dismay at being promoted to Crowd. Lawrie's conceit, meanwhile, is as bumptious as ever, and her sisters as sternly engaged in repressing it.

It's a telling little insight that it was Miss Keith who expanded the Christmas Play from an entertainment to a Community Effort, the sort of bye-writing at which Forest excels. And Dr Herrick's polite attempts to amplify it into a production suitable for a cathedral are nicely done, I think: although he's the representative of the ecclesiastical world, he's much more of a impresario than the Kingscote staff, with Ussher here committed to a worshipful vision. Is there any fic about Dr Herrick? He's one of my favourite minor characters. (This has been &c.)

Again, a little foretaste of the swap-plot as Dr Herrick mistakes Lawrie for Nicola; and the audition scene gruesomely sheep-and-goats. Dr Herrick's embarrassing idea that Lawrie and Nicola should walk together again indicates his showmanlike tendencies; gentle and courteous though he may be, he's rather ruthless of people's feelings when it comes to mounting a production. And this incident marks a further wedge between Nicola and Tim-and-Lawrie. That Nicola's feelings are sufficiently bruised by the quarrel with her sister that it is only when she's seeing to Sprog that it occurs to her how exposed she'll be, singing solo in the Minster, I think, is a really neat touch of characterisation.

Although I have to try very hard to care much about the netball bits of the books under normal circumstances, I really like the little episode in which Lois refashions the younger girls' joshing of Nicola as an anecdote about Nicola's big-headedness. Val's uncritical acceptance of Lois's manipulation neatly indicates her acceptance of authority and hierarchy, while Janice's scepticism displays independence.

I enjoy Nicola's surprise at Shakespeare knowing anything as 'useful' as falconry; and perhaps the germ of an interest in Shakespeare in 'wondering how they fitted into their various plays'.

What do people think of Lois's behaviour towards Nicola at the practice? Ideas about what motivates her? Just the feud with Rowan?

(iii)

As someone who's a cheerful-noise-in-the-bath sort, I quite appreciate the horrors of Dr Herrick's reign of terror. Tim's dismay at remaining in the Crowd now the criteria for inclusion have changed, and its consequences in stinging-nettle satire, I think is handled with great plausibility. Marie's hearty attempts at joining in always make me squirm, as does her falling neatly into Miranda's baited trap. I'm fascinated by and would love to hear what people have to say about Miranda's Jewish identity, by the way (also: fic prompt--I wish I had the knowledge and competency to try my hand.)

Lawrie's religious ignorance will be picked up later in her conversation with Madame Orly. Is it plausible? End of Term is the novel in which Forest's religious commentary begins in earnest. It's one of the strands in the series that I enjoy most, and I'd just like to open up to discussion this novel's (and the series') religious themes. (I don't think it's a particularly spoilery area, with a couple of exceptions: use your discretion.)

Here's [livejournal.com profile] ankaret's fic 'The Next Christmas', by the way, in which Patrick and Ann discuss religion. I read this and wandered around claiming it was canon for about three years before running across it again and realising it wasn't. Legionseagle's 'To Strive To Seek' also contains some great sectarian détente and misunderstanding.

Finally, I have never, ever, been able to hear 'See Amid the Winter Snow' without thinking of school dinner.



Enough from me--have at it, and I look forward to your comments!

(Posting slightly early this week as I'll be occupied and largely offline tomorrow.)

Miss Redmond

Date: 2014-08-29 07:57 am (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
I'm going to have to start on her, because in the first place that scene still gives me the creeps, even though I'm about forty years older now than when I read it for the first time. Perhaps it's because self-righteous, manipulative people don't change much; it's just that the setting changes around them.

And it is a massively - but all too believably - manipulative scene (I don't want to rush ahead, but it's also essential set-up for later plot developments). That whole "we are the voice of reason and your not doing what we want reflects badly on you" which completely ignores the fact that Guides is a voluntary, leisure-time activity is so beautifully done (and shows Ann is completely wrong in her insistence that Redmond doesn't let Guide things spill over into school, too.)

I've met teachers like that, of course - I think the staff are one of the minor triumphs of Forest's depictions of school - and Redmond is the quintessential "for your own good" sort of teacher. What's more, you can see how the environment shapes her worse characteristics.

I had a copy of "Judy, Patrol Leader" which was an example of the sub-genre of Guiding school stories, and I've always been amused by the way that aspect, too, of the genre is subtly dissected by Forest.
Edited Date: 2014-08-29 10:26 am (UTC)

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Date: 2014-08-31 04:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elktheory.livejournal.com
I love the portrayal of Miss Redmond (and of the staff generally). I think it was the first time I had ever encountered a teacher in literature who was not an all-knowing fount of wisdom, adored by her pupils, or (the other extreme) completely feeble and contemptible. It was such a revelation to me to read about a teacher as a flawed individual, with clear prejudices and grudges, exactly like the teachers I encountered in my own schools. It was also liberating to begin viewing teachers in that light.

The scene of Nicola trying to explain her and Lawrie's decision not to rejoin the Guide company is excruciating in its accuracy. Well done to Nicola for managing to get her point across. I'm afraid I would have been much more like Lawrie in that situation, struck dumb and scarlet. In fact, I probably would have agreed to rejoin Guides (and loathed every minute of it thereafter) because I wouldn't have had the strength to stand up to someone like Redmond. I love Nicola's confidence and uncowedness.

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Re: Miss Redmond

Date: 2014-09-02 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainerobin.livejournal.com
Anytime I see Redmond enter a scene, I cringe. I find her representative of all the teachers I’ve hated in school, an d AF must have known them too, as she writes that role so well. “We were evidently wrong, weren’t we?” People who treat children like that! Awful! Tim and Lawrie also make me mad in that first scene, Lawrie saying, “but you say it so much better.” Coward! And Tim can be quite beastly.

I am rather curious how she and Nick fared last summer term while Lawrie was home mending her leg, and Nick was starting to "share jokes across the room" with Miranda. I think Miranda and Tim are probably the cleverest children in the room, perhaps it's the fact that they are so alike that keeps them from being friends.

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Miranda and Tim

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Re: Miranda and Tim

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Date: 2014-08-29 10:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] schwarmerei1.livejournal.com
If anyone is tempted to think that Forest has rather overdone Ann’s fussiness, I’ll be pleased to disabuse them,

I think after what happened during the twins first train trip to Kingscote; the "shipwrecking" in TMATT; and the various incidents FL (Nicola and Peter's cliff rescue, Ginty going AWOL during the competition;) -- Ann's caution is more than justified. In fact Nicola bounding off the train in pursuit of Sprog (however necessary) just proves the point that her sisters really are prone to be involved in incidents.

I'd love to hear what you think of Miranda's disclosure of her feelings for Janice and her hostility to 'pashes'. I tend to read this as a sort of (very quiet) coming-out. For the novel's presumed target market it's a pretty subtle distinction between the sentimentality of the worshippers at the shrine of Eileen Benson and Joyce Craig and a more firmly established romantic/sexual orientation. {snip} I also love Miranda's irrepressible enjoyment of a row; making her a kind of anti-Ginty, I think.

Well I personally adore it, and frankly it's the openness with which AF details Miranda's infatuation that cemented my love of the series. I find it very true to my personal experience, so that probably played no small part. I'm someone who likes Rowan and Nick, but Miranda is the character who really engages me. It's interesting that you (accurately) describe her as the anti-Ginty, because I really don't like Ginty. (Although I am more sympathetic to her now that I've read TMATT and FL -- I was missing a lot of backstory!)

I've no doubt others more widely read can point me to other examples of same-sex romantic feelings in YA fiction, but this was the one I had as an adolescent. And it's the one that illustrated it in a way that I identified with. (I tried reading adult "lesbian" literature, and it just wasn't what I was looking for.)

Although I have to try very hard to care much about the netball bits of the books under normal circumstances, I really like the little episode in which Lois refashions the younger girls' joshing of Nicola as an anecdote about Nicola's big-headedness. Val's uncritical acceptance of Lois's manipulation neatly indicates her acceptance of authority and hierarchy, while Janice's scepticism displays independence.

Yes, the netball drags in general although there are great bits of character work that it reveals. But compared to the cricket of Cricket Term which I find wonderful, it's pretty woeful in comparison. (It was a stroke of genius to have the different forms play each other for the cricket comp -- so much more interesting to see the cast of characters we know up against each other, instead of a anonymous team from some other school!)

One thing I did want to mention here is that Janice's first appearance on page in person (I think that's correct isn't it? Or does she appear in Autumn Term?) is magnificent! After the buildup we've had from Miranda confessing to her crush one wonders what Janice will be like, and she doesn't disappoint:

"Lois, pleased by this uncritical acceptance of her story – from which Lawrie had practically disappeared, her lines having been taken over by Nicola – added some comparisons with other Marlows as she had known: particularly Rowan. One way and another, she was having a pretty good time, until she caught Janice Scott's eye – the cool, appraising eye of someone who knows a piece of fiction when she hears it and wonders just what's behind it. Lois flushed, and stumbled to a stop."

I just love the economy with which AF introduces the object of Miranda's admiration, and how quickly we get an idea that she is singular character. Not only is she immune to her form's groupthink, she's got this penetrating insight and curiosity. Basically I think Miranda chose a very worthy object to get crushed upon.

I'd personally love some fic about what Nick actually thinks about Miranda's crush. Does she recognise it for what it is, or does she just think it's a more dignified version of sleeping with kirbigrips?

Date: 2014-08-29 11:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heliopausa.livejournal.com
"same-sex romantic feelings in YA fiction"

Clare Mallory frequently deals with girls being "keen on" older girls, generally sympathetically, and she in turn refers very admiringly to the 1929 book, Evelyn Finds Herself, which is mainly (? from memory) about the evolutions over several years in a school friendship between two girls, including the attachment of one of them to her coded-lesbian schoolteacher (who is sympathetic and supportive, but in a settled relationship of her own).

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Date: 2014-08-31 09:39 am (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
The bit about Jan is absolutely stellar. In fact one of the strengths of End of Term is its emphasis on behind-the-scenes politics, string-pulling, biases and resentments carried over from term to term, year to year (sibling to sibling, come to think of it; Nicola inherits Lois's resentment of Rowan) which do not get sorted out or even, for that matter, explained.

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New Term by biskybat

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Weeding the drive

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Miranda - coming out?

Date: 2014-08-29 01:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sprog-63.livejournal.com
" I tend to read this as a sort of (very quiet) coming-out."

This is our first real meeting with Miranda herself rather than the reported-Miranda we know from AT and immediately we are introduced to her relationship with Jan. In that way it is obviously an important part of her character, and I do see it as signalling this to the reader (presumably deliberately: did this ever get raised with AF while she was dismissing Tim and Lawrie?). That Miranda has "a thing for" Janice, is definitely acknowledged between her and Nicola, but I do not get any hint from the text that either of them are aware of this in the sense of a precursor to lesbian identity for Miranda: so in that way, I do not think it is even a quiet coming out. Later (CT) they discuss Miranda having watched Janice when she was in Kindergarten and how "faithful" Miranda has been. It is not until this conversation that Nicola realises how important Janice is to Miranda. And even then I am not sure either of them recognise it as anything else. That's not to say I disagree with you that that is where Miranda is heading!

I imagine many of us (however we define ourselves now) read this passage through the lens of our own experiences as girls/children, and undoubtedly I am doing so myself.

Date: 2014-08-29 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thekumquat.livejournal.com
I agree with this: neither Nicola or Miranda probably think of M's position towards Jan as anything other than admiration of Jan's character and looks, and wouldn't read anything into being attracted by looks any more than Nicola does regarding herself and her feelings towards Esther.
I read EoT when I was about the same age as Nicola and having similar feelings to certain older girls, which I never at the time or indeed for another decade considered at all related to the feelings I soon had for other girls in my year (and kept damn quiet about!) From being on the receiving end later, I think at least half of my admirers weren't at all queer. No idea why I got latched onto, being a quiet aloof type and definitely labelled Uncooperative - I had a lot of sympathy with Jan then and now!

Miranda- coming out

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Miranda - coming out?

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Re: Miranda - coming out?

Date: 2014-08-30 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-redboots.livejournal.com
Indeed, as I myself did. It was normal - pretty much expected, I think - to have crushes on older girls when you were in the juniors; it was also expected that one would grow out of them in due course, which, by and large, most (but not all) of us did.

I don't know if anybody has ever read "Mariana" by Monica Dickens - it has recently been republished by Persephone - as that gives an excellent description of that sort of crush; Mary notices an older girl on her first day, and when asked "You think she's a goddess, don't you?" feels obliged to reply "Of course!" and is thus "saddled with her first and only crush", which dies a natural death at the end of the summer term.

Miranda may or may not turn out to be a lesbian, but I don't think a long-standing admiration of an admirable older girl is necessarily an indication of that.

Re: Miranda - coming out?

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Re: Miranda - coming out?

Date: 2014-09-04 09:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] schwarmerei1.livejournal.com
I do read it as a "coming out". I don't deny that I am inferring from my own experience of being gay, but I certainly knew I was attracted to women at an age younger than Miranda is in EoT, and a crush on an older (unobtainable) object was a very safe way for me to sublimate those feelings until I was old enough to want to act on them.

I think the fact that Miranda makes a very clear distinction between her crush on Janice and the type that the Lower Firth had for Eileen and Joyce is important here. She clearly sees hers as different to the ritualised schoolgirl pashes.

The question as to whether Miranda knows it as an early expression of sexual orientation is an interesting one though. EoT is written in 1959 -- that seems pretty daring. By the time "Mask of Apollo" and same-sex attraction is openly mentioned it's the 1970's. I'd like to think AF was writing it the way it the way I received it, but it doesn't matter to me if she wasn't.

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Date: 2014-08-29 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nineveh-uk.livejournal.com
I find Lawrie's religious ignorance entirely plausible. Lawrie doesn't seem to be particularly interested in religion or consider it important, so she doesn't pay much attention to it - her classmates under the same impression are presumably likewise. No doubt if they have a fun passage in scripture knowledge* she enjoys reading it out dramatically, but she isn't interested in context. Also, it's pretty clear that religion isn't something that the Marlows or Kingscote talks about a great deal, so no-one picks up on her misunderstanding or provides a context in which she might think more herself.

*Or whatever it is called. I may be thinking of Wooster.

Date: 2014-09-01 02:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the_antichris.livejournal.com
Nicola, despite generally paying attention to things and being related to Ann, still managed to avoid knowing that there were people in the 20th century who believed 'properly'. So I also find Lawrie's ignorance entirely plausible. *Nobody* (well, maybe Mme Orly) can make Lawrie learn things if she doesn't want to.

Ann's belief.

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Re: Ann's belief.

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Re: Ann's belief.

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Re: Ann's belief.

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Date: 2014-08-30 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] buntyandjinx.livejournal.com
One thing I love is AF's constant digs at how the establishment's insistence on rewarding good character, showing how it results in mediocrity (in netball and the play). Something Noel Streatfeild also excelled at - the most talented characters are never the most likeable (with the exception of Nicola).

I wonder in the Jews can't take part in the Nativity scene, if a conversation like this played out at South Hampsted High School. How much did AF feel excluded from Christian events.

I don't find the netball scenes drag, on the contrary I love them now and as a schoolgirl, who'd never shown any previous sporting prowess, they inspired me to become a rather marvellous Goal Attack, though I say so myself.

And I don't see Miranda's affiliation to Jan as a coming out. At that time "pashes" were par for the course in boarding schools. Like someone else, I also remembering harbouring feelings of awe for some of the older girls, though by the 1980s I knew better than to voice them. Miranda has just chosen a classy object for her affections.

Date: 2014-08-30 04:10 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
It's pretty (and plausibly) dense of Keith to do the Christmas Play as this great communal event without realising how exclusionary that is to Jewish (and possibly other religious) minorities in the school. I expect she doesn't give a damn about the atheists, but you'd think it might cross someone's mind about the others.

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Date: 2014-08-30 04:12 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
I love the line about "Friendship with Miranda took a long leap forward" at the point when Miranda reveals her detestation of Lois. It reminds me of CS Lewis commenting about SCR friendships and how there is no bond like finding someone else who detests the Junior Dean to the same degree as you do.

Date: 2014-08-30 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-redboots.livejournal.com
I'm absolutely certain that Forest must have read that passage in C S Lewis! And there's that meme going round on Facebook about how a good friendship is based on a "dislike of the same people". So true, so true....

Date: 2014-08-30 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antfan.livejournal.com
Thank you very much for such a brilliant round-up of these chapters, which brings home to me very forcibly what an amazing book End of Term is - so much to analyze, so much humour, so many fascinating themes - the religious one especially - and new characters - Esther, Miranda, Janice and Miss Cromwell (OK so the last 3 did have small roles in Autumn Term) and all in these first 3 chapters.

I love the opening - it's hilarious to think of them all stuck on that platform, and reveals the characters of the four girls immediately: Ann overly conscientious and pouring oil on troubled waters, Ginty somewhat detached from the rest, Nick fed up but stoical, Lawrie fed up and absolutely not stoical but determined to extract her pound of flesh.

The Unity plotline from FL is so neatly tied up too - what writerly efficiency!

I also love Nicola in the guard carriage, struggling to adapt between home and school, and the unexpectedness of the guard's falconry expertise. (And Nicola does indeed consistently get on with people like guards.)

Then - Esther's snub of Nicola. This is brilliantly written, but is the first example of several of why I found EofT so hard to read as a child (and tended to reread it selectively). Forest really does specialise in these moments of shame and humiliation - at least in the earlier books. She never lightens them with any humour or narrative distance and although with adult eyes I admire the writing, and the emotional honesty, when younger they really made me squirm. Too close to the bone. I guess Nicola's trip to Port Wade in Autumn Term is the ultimate example but there are plenty in End of Term too. Remorseless. Thankfully we soon see a new perspective on Esther, other than arch-snubber.

On the other hand, as a child I DID like Forest's uncompromising view of parental divorce - always a horrible thing for the children - and thought this was more honest than some of the books around at the time (though they would have been published much later that EofT in actual fact) like Judy Blume's "Not The End of the world" which seemed to have an agenda of showing that parents divorcing was OK really. (Now, as an adult, I have more sympathy with what Blume was trying to do, but at the time it struck me as duplicitious).

And then Miranda - would be fascinated to know if she is a self-portrait. I think AF must have had a lot of confidence to write her the way she did - she is not afraid of making her the child of a rich businessman, for example, even though this could arguably be seen as a negative stereotype (or I suspect might be taken so by editors today).

So much more to say...but will stop blabbing on for now!

Date: 2014-08-30 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-redboots.livejournal.com
This was the first Forest novel I came across, and I instantly fell in love with it. I still think it is arguably her best. A school that was depicted fairly realistically - so refreshing! Staff who weren't automatically Good and Wise and Fair.... and lots of the same kind of slang that I used myself at boarding-school, admittedly a few years later.

Date: 2014-08-31 08:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyphomandra.livejournal.com
Re-reading these chapters I found myself most startled at finding that Ann has curly hair (which she attacks with violence!). I'd always pictured it as straight, but then I think I have trouble picturing most of the Marlows from the descriptions given, e.g. squirrel-eyed Ginty.

I do like the way all the main plot/theme elements seem to just click into place so early on - the play, the netball team, the shifting relationships between Nicola and Lawrie (and Tim, and Miranda, and Esther), the role religion. It comes across so effortlessly. (I do, however, mentally picture Forest as a ruthless rewriter. Possibly this is actually mentioned in one of the GGB editions?)

Lawrie's religious ignorance will be picked up later in her conversation with Madame Orly. Is it plausible?

I always found it very plausible. Then again, I remember being one of a class of 14 year olds asked to speak in turn about Islam; the first girl announced that "it was a very hot, dry country", and we were about a third of the way round the class with expansions on its location, borders, customs, exports etc etc, before a more clued-up classmate managed to correct us.

I like Cromwell, by the way, but I do feel for Lawrie when she makes such a mess of things on her first day.

Date: 2014-08-31 08:55 am (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
I like Cromwell as a fictional character but I'd have detested having her as a teacher, I suspect. Mind you, I think one of the problems with both maths teachers and games teachers is that even more than in other fields, they're self-selected from people who absolutely cannot imagine the mental state of people who have no or limited aptitude for the subject, and tend to imagine that since people cannot possibly be naturally bad at something they have managed with ease since birth, practically, they must simply not be making the effort. I don't know how Crommie is with people who don't have a natural aptitude for maths, but I definitely see both Lois and Redmond as being that sort of games coach, with Nicola, Rowan and Craven being more on the empathetic side.

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Date: 2014-08-31 11:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melandraanne.livejournal.com
'End of Term' was the first AF book I read, having found it in a second-hand bookshop in the Netherlands - I think it must have been in Leiden - when on a trip to visit friends. I must have been 14... and I'd been out of boarding school for about a year, just long enough to forget the bits I'd disliked and to miss the rest. When Nicola explains to Esther that they weren't aloud to use the front steps except on the first day - something about Kingscote just clicked. This was boarding school as I'd known it.
I look forward to the rest of the read-through

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Date: 2014-08-31 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melandraanne.livejournal.com
'End of Term' was the first AF book I read, having found it in a second-hand bookshop in the Netherlands - I think it must have been in Leiden - when on a trip to visit friends. I must have been 14... and I'd been out of boarding school for about a year, just long enough to forget the bits I'd disliked and to miss the rest. When Nicola explains to Esther that they weren't aloud to use the front steps except on the first day - something about Kingscote just clicked. This was boarding school as I'd known it.
I look forward to the rest of the read-through

Date: 2014-08-31 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elktheory.livejournal.com
So pleased to be able to participate in this read-through. I missed most of the previous discussions in real time, though I've caught up reading all the extremely interesting comments.

End of Term is one of my favorite AF novels. It's certainly the one I've reread most frequently over the years. I only read the school stories initially, in the Puffin reprints that appeared in the 80s. I still remember my bewilderment at Nicola's thought "On the one hand, lucky Patrick." My response was "Lucky who?" But on the whole I would say Forest does a good job of making the novels independent of each other, so I was able to read and adore the school stories for years before finally reading the others as an adult.

One theme that is brilliantly explored in this novel (and is a general theme that runs through the whole series) has to do with shifting perspectives about oneself and others, and how one's private self is often at odds with the public self (or selves) that others encounter. We see it in the way that Nicola now views Miranda quite differently than she did the previous year, Ginty's dropping of Unity, Lois suddenly viewing herself through Janice's eyes, etc. Absolutely brilliant and subtle.

Nicola and Lawrie

Date: 2014-09-01 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] occasionalhope.livejournal.com
I think the twins' relationship, and how it shifts, is worth exploring here. We see quite a bit in these chapters of Lawrie being Lawrie, and Nicola doing damage control: when Lawrie can't see off Redmond on her own, trying to protect her from Miss Cromwell's wrath, hastily interjecting to cover up Miranda's lack of tact when she criticises Lawrie's maths skills; alternatively, being silently embarrassed by Lawrie-being-Lawrie, over the Shepherd Boy. And then there's the awkward scene with Dr Herrick, where Tim supplant's Nicola's accustomed (and not always welcome) role with Lawrie.

The missing terms

Date: 2014-09-02 12:30 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
Interestingly (and not explored) Nicola goes up to IIIA at least half a term ahead of Lawrie and Tim. Given her comment in FL about "It's always hopeless if you get stuck in different forms" apropos Ginty, Monica and Unity (why was Unity in Middle Remove, anyway? B, D or JPS?) can that have been what sowed the seeds of the developing split with Tim we see in EoT?

Re: The missing terms

Date: 2014-09-02 05:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] occasionalhope.livejournal.com
That certainly makes sense.

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Re: The missing terms

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Esther and Daks

Date: 2014-09-03 02:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antfan.livejournal.com
"While I’m endeared by the resolution of the situation in Nicola’s finding out that Esther is crying for an animal rather than a human being, it also points to quite a curious value-system.It’s one stereotypically associated with a certain sort of socially privileged Englishness; perhaps there’s also a notion embedded there that to cry for one’s parents is childish, but to cry for a dog is more respectable somehow."

I feel that this is a good example of Forest being highly realistic in her portrayal of children! They often do care more deeply for their pets (or believe that they do, and say so loudly!) than they do for family members. Further, while in reading this scene as an adult it's almost impossible not to make the interpretation that Esther has focused a lot of her emotions onto Daks because of her parents' divorce, Nicola, whose parents aren't divorced, cares just as deeply as Esther does about animals, and has no difficulty in understanding Esther's feelings - because presumably she would have felt just the same.

People do care about their pets a lot, and children are more upfront about this maybe. Although Daks may be especially precious to Esther because of her useless parents, it is him she's crying for, I think - it's not a facade for her feelings about her parents.

Re: Esther and Daks

Date: 2014-09-03 02:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-redboots.livejournal.com
I remember a schoolfriend sobbing over the death of the family dog, and saying rather crossly (she was cross with herself, not anybody else) that she didn't know why she was crying over the dog, when she hadn't cried over her grandfather, who had died the previous term.

Re: Esther and Daks

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