[identity profile] lilliburlero.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] trennels


I relish Miranda's reflections on the Christians' seeming irreligion and Lawrie's thoughts on acting which open this chapter, and Nicola's resultant 'chilly sense of inadequacy' is a great development of that. Nicola dimly quoting Peter quoting Macbeth is rather touching.

The conversation with Bunty lightens the mood: Nicola discovers she may have become an object of admiration among the Seconds. Does anyone go in for Nicola's reassuring 'This time tomorrow...' routine? I've always felt like Lawrie (and like Nicola does here.)

More of Esther's mother's ghastly manipulative correspondence. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you really want your readers to loathe a character's mother, then she must be made to do something beastly to a dog, but here it really works, I think. Nicola and Miranda's plan is splendidly crackpot, especially the notion of involving Mr Merrick. I enjoy the way the friendship between Nicola and Miranda is shown to deepen as they discuss their parents: 'Mr West and Mrs Marlow had quite a lot in common, Captain Marlow and Mrs West were absolutely different'--quite an interesting way to put it.

The conversation with Anthony Merrick interests me: he only really becomes serious and convinced when Nicola relates the situation to Patrick and his loss of Regina.

Miranda's account of anti-Semitism is painful, and Nicola’s ‘muddled feeling that she should apologize for the stupidity and bad manners of her countrymen’, only to realise they are Miranda’s too: a very plausible reaction by someone who’s had the privilege of never really having to think about it before.

The Copper Kettle reminds me of a café of the same name on Kings Parade in Cambridge, now, I think, defunct. The coffee was ghastly and it served a perfectly gruesome sticky article called a Rum Baba, though not Special Chocolate Cake. Happy days.

Anyone wonder why Nicola hates Dickens?

I wonder that there aren’t more questions about Nicola receiving phone calls from an MP about a dog, but perhaps I don’t run in quite the same circles as the inmates of Kingscote.

The patient development of the circumstances making Lawrie and Nicola’s swap possible pays off wonderfully, I think in, the ‘explosion’ in Nicola’s mind as it occurs to her and--especially--her manoeuvring Tim into actually making the suggestion.

Own up: who else of you tosses a coin and then does what you secretly wanted to do anyway?

The sketch of the Marlow sisters’ nerves is nice, especially Lawrie’s blazing intensity, though I can’t quite hear Ann being ‘staccato and over-funny’ somehow.

The confrontation with Miss Kempe and Miss Cromwell is full of lovely detail: the repeated ‘A pause. someone else tried.’; Lois being ‘too patently on their side’; Tim ‘proceeding under tow to the Falklands for repair’; Val’s officious usurpation of prerogative; Lawrie’s ‘hunted, uncertain voice’ leading into her confession of the match swap; Miss Cromwell’s fury over Lawrie’s pagan bargain with (apparently) pagan gods; Nicola miserable enough to find Ann’s sympathy comforting. I love it.

Dr Herrick’s apparent exasperation with the play’s rapid personnel turnover turns out to be very fortunate: after having Nicola snatched out of the Choir, he’s seems to have given up on providing understudies. I do, however, wonder how Helen Bagshaw feels about all this? (This has been your regularly scheduled fic prompt).

Kempe’s interrogation of Nicola as to Lawrie’s suitability for the part seems rather desperate. (Staff pov fic of the play would also be very entertaining, I think.) Jan’s defence of Miranda as suitable for the role of angel always amuses me, as perhaps the only moment in the series when we see her lose her cool a bit.

I’m also immensely touched by Lawrie the trouper, and Jan’s startled reaction to her professionalism. It’s a nice detail that Nicola remembers to tell an angry Miranda that Jan supported her, and the calming, decisive effect that has upon her.

The final pages of this chapter both come full circle to its opening discussion of inducing religious feeling in an audience, and set the scene beautifully for the account of the play in the following chapter.



Again, Catholicism is associated with unselfconscious behaviour in church, as Patrick suggests taking Daks into the Minster. For some reason I always think of Helena as a convert upon marriage: though Patrick's reminder not to genuflect suggests the cradle.

I'm amused by Patrick and Mme Orly's shared scepticism, and Patrick's surprised that the latter is not 'maudlin' over her grandchildren. Patrick seems to be projecting his own introversion here: 'it was always embarrassing, seeing people you liked make fools of themselves', which he didn't do when he asked Nick to sing in the Minster at half-term, a much more 'hot-making' thing to do, to my mind, than sing as part of a scheduled performance.

Mme Orly's incredulity at Nicola being able to sing--ouch! I find Patrick's dismissal of Coleridge rather painful (I like Coleridge as a personality as well as the poetry, though flawed is an understatement) but I suppose the Merrick boy would think him a bit of an ass.

The gallery-ex-machina, with its excellent view and acoustics, which nobody seems to have thought of as an audience overflow space, is rather improbable. Perhaps it's actually practically crumbling and Patrick and Rowan are risking a very nasty accident going up there at all. Anyway, at this point I start enjoying myself so much I don't care any more.

Miranda's stillness, and Patrick's fascination with it, ties in nicely to the theme of artifice which governs this chapter: it might be attributable merely to the feeling of 'having bitten off more the than she could chew' at the the end of chapter 8, but the effect is compelling.

Rowan's casting as Gabriel gives a nice insight into what the play cast-by-worthy-character might have been like. It also suggests that Miss Keith approved of her rather more than Rowan has previously indicated. I love Rowan and Patrick's sectarian exchange--Patrick's preference for the Authorized Version over the Douay-Rheims is predictable, but nice nonetheless--turning to Rowan's embarrassment as the question of actual belief is raised.

The livelier, more irreverent Crowd, meanwhile, seems to represent the idea of belief 'without reservation'. Amid all Forest's commentary on transmitting religious feeling and artifice, Ann stands as a rare example of someone who has both genuine faith and the stage presence to convey a sense of it.

I don't know the carol that Patrick doesn't, either, and nor does Google (at least my algorithmic iteration of it doesn't). Anyone care to enlighten us? It sounds like a good 'un, given that it gives the Merrick Boy a visionary moment (I feel he might be prone to those).

Celia Frant is surely worth a drabble or two, isn't she?

I think Forest does a good job of suggesting Lawrie's talent: for me, the most telling detail is that she has the gift of eliciting better performances from the others; given Lawrie's self-conceit and self-centredness, this must be a pure function of her gift: I've worked with actors like that, though, and it is a real thing. And making Rowan's face 'stiff and set'! A fine thing! I also enjoy the audience's 'rather sickening' amusement at what does sound like a slightly saccharine moment between Gabriel and the Boy.

Lawrie's bumptious vanity is beautifully contrasted to her unselfconscious persona as the Boy. Rowan, in true Marlow family tradition, is not about to encourage it, but her "Ghastly child" has some pride in it, I think. Trust the Merrick Boy to spot the reference to St Stephen, and subject it to critique. I always smile at that, thinking of Celia Frant being rather pleased with her own cleverness.

The appearance of Sprog, Patrick's moved incredulity and Nicola's worry (I adore the detail of it being like Pam Marlow's worry at her children's appearances, which suggests she has an opinion of their talents not quite so far removed from her own mother's as she might like to think...) is a great moment.

Forest handles the potential sentimentality of the Shepherd Boy's final appearance with great aplomb; a softy myself, I always feel a bit misty about it, like Mrs Bertie reading Misunderstood or the old ladies in the audience (it can't be sentimental if it makes Rowan shiver, can it?), by following it with Patrick's realisation that Lawrie can never have heard of St Stephen. The added Flight into Egypt sounds pretty effective too.

The last few pages of the chapter are gorgeous, I think. The audience standing (gulp); the moment when Nicola sees her grandmother looking surprised, the nostalgia of Dr Herrick's reading of 'Once in Royal David's City' (for some reason on this readthrough, I have been thinking a lot about Dr Herrick: how incredulously relieved he must be that it all went off so well!); Patrick's embarrassed dislike of the Victorian admonitions in the third verse (I can never hear it without thinking of him; as a child I thought the presumption of 'Christian children all must be / Mild, obedient, good as he' positively blasphemous); Patrick's interest in people 'out of context' and their 'chameleon blood'(Forest seems to have thought back to this attraction when she wrote the exchange in Cricket Term between Nicola and Ann about Ginty's opalescent changeability; clearly it's one of the Merrick Boy's kinks).

And the last sentence of the chapter...no words.





This does anti-climax brilliantly, I think, with the parental natter: Pam's embarrassment at the Marlows 'swarming rather', as it's later put; the faintly ominous mention of Ginty's good looks by Mrs Merrick, juxtaposed to both mothers' assumption that the real friendship is between Nicola and Patrick; Mrs Marlow worrying about Lawrie in 'ghastly lodgings and tenth-rate reps' (this has been your regularly scheduled &c.; I always think a crossover with An Awfully Big Adventure); the glimpse of Mr Merrick's visit to Esther (this has been &c.) which seems to have perhaps prompted Mrs Thorne's conscience.

I'm intrigued by Nicola's attribution of Lawrie's successful performance to her being 'afraid of lots of things', especially since there is such an emphasis in the previous chapter on Lawrie's ability to transform herself, to become someone else. On the other hand, Lawrie does draw from life in her acting: viz. the irony of using the moment when she found out that Nicola had been cast instead of her to portray disappointment at being left behind. And Nicola listening to Lawrie but paying little attention otherwise: I wonder how Nicola feels about Lawrie's triumph, given that Nicola prefers acting to singing, but has been repeatedly told she was never quite right as the Shepherd Boy and so on.

I also like Miranda's puzzled response to the improbability of the Christian story: 'so unlikely, it would have to be true' is in some ways not a bad approximation to certain understandings of the way faith works.

It is typically Forestian to end not with exhilaration, but with the apprehension of blood for breakfast, and I love it.



Right, quite enough from me. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, and thanks for all your contributions so far.

[personal profile] legionseagle (to whom, grateful thanks) has kindly offered to take over posting on Peter's Room, which we'll begin with Chapters 1-3 next week. That post will go up on Thursday 25th rather than Friday 26th.

The Falklands

Date: 2014-09-19 03:02 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
Minor kick off point, but I have to say I was absolutely flabbergasted in 1982 when people were going round saying "Where are the Falklands?" and, worse "Who can be expected to know where the Falklands are?" Even without Nicola's specialist interests, "proceeding under tow to the Falklands for repair" was a pretty easy one to get, I thought. Any people's thoughts on this?

Re: The Falklands

Date: 2014-09-19 10:26 pm (UTC)
hooloovoo_42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hooloovoo_42
I took my Guide World Friendship Badge in July 1981. One of the sections required you to plan a tour to assorted Commonwealth countries. The only place that fell into a particular category was the Falklands. After much searching for information, Dad managed to bring home a photocopy of the entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica at college. It was a short entry, including a map of the islands and a few details on their islands products and location. The examiner seemed rather stunned that I'd found any information at all about this out of the way place.

Nine months or so later, everyone knew where the Falklands were!

Re: The Falklands

Date: 2014-09-20 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melandraanne.livejournal.com
My family is from the Falklands and I grew up there... I bought 'End of Term' about six months after my parents moved back to Europe, so this was one of the things that really jumped out at me when I first read the book...

Re: The Falklands

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Re: The Falklands

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Re: The Falklands

Date: 2014-09-20 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ethelmay.livejournal.com
I was in college then, and I still never remember where the Falklands are without looking them up. But then I know quite well my geography knowledge is spotty. (Speaking of which, does anyone else find it hard to believe that Lawrie is "almost the same" at geography as Nicola? Geography seems as though it would be very much a Nicola thing, and unlikely to be a Lawrie thing.)

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Re: The Falklands

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Date: 2014-09-19 03:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nzraya.livejournal.com
For some reason I always think of Helena as a convert upon marriage: though Patrick's reminder not to genuflect suggests the cradle.

But her "I have been in Protestant churches before, you know" retort could mean that she grew up in them, and converted in order to become a Merrick. Of course, she's certainly been a Catholic for as long as Patrick can remember, given that her conversion-upon-marriage would have preceded his birth (I assume!!). He might simply not know, or not really ever have taken on board, that she had a life before that.....


"So unlikely, it would have to be true" is EXACTLY my take on the Christian story (as, like Miranda, a skeptical Jew -- atheist, really -- who teaches the Gospels as literature, and enjoys them very much from that perspective). The impossibility of the story is what underwrites its veracity. As Tertullian never actually wrote, "Credo quia absurdum est," or in plain English, "You can't make this stuff up."

I see from Wikipedia that my attitude has been officially denounced as un-Catholic by ye olde Pope Benedict, however, so I stand suitably chastised.

Date: 2014-09-19 05:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nineveh-uk.livejournal.com
I am interested that you find the "So unlikely, it would have to be true" line plausible, as I always felt it was like AF shoehorning in a "we should respect Miranda but actually she subconsciously knows that she is wrong" element. But then I was one of those children whose moment of revelation is the one that other people actually believe and are not doing it out of social ritual, and find that incomprehensible, rather than the other way round (though unlike Lawrie I did know what it was that people were believing).

Miranda and Christianity

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Re: Miranda and Christianity

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Date: 2014-09-19 05:34 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
I dunno - I recall when I was a sixth-former walking through Trafalgar Square when there was a Jesus rally on and hearing someone shout through a megaphone, "And in no other religion has a God died and come back to life again!' and I was strongly tempted to yell back, "Not even trying! Try coming back and fathering a son after you've been killed, chopped into thirteen pieces, thrown in the nile, collected in instalments by your sorrowing wife and she's had to make do because your penis has been eaten by a crocodile! Try that as a resurrection mythos!"

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Helena/conversion

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Re: Helena/conversion

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Date: 2014-09-19 04:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackmerlin.livejournal.com
It's interesting that both twins can inspire other people to be better at their things - when playing with Nicola the netball team all play better than they usually do, and when acting with Lawrie all the other girls act better.

Date: 2014-09-19 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] highfantastical.livejournal.com
Trivial point: Copper Kettle still here (I live in Cambridge), I think! If have to pop out and check because I'm usually oblivious to my surroundings and have never eaten there, but 99.9% certain.

Re: More Copper Kettle Trivialities

Date: 2014-09-19 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainerobin.livejournal.com
I remember the Copper Kettle on Kings Parade from when I lived in Cambridge in 1983. And that being where I discovered the Forest books, has been the Copper Kettle in Wade Abbas ever since. I remember them being vegetarian (unusual at the time) and having rather good pastries, and it was the only place one could get herbal tea.

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The Play

Date: 2014-09-19 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainerobin.livejournal.com
There are so many things in these last chapters that quite make up for the anguish one must read through to get here. You mentioned so many of my favorite points: N and M's plan to help Esther, and the absurd craziness of the four of them all planning how to make the swap until Cromwell brings them to a crushing halt, and Jan's support of Miranda, and everything coming together at the last possible moment, followed by the ending anticipation of dreaded "blood for breakfast."

It always does trouble me a bit that the staff can't think of anyone other than Miranda who could be relied upon to In their minds' eyes they saw the individuals who now sat, a bored and restless group at the back of the Minster: the stupid, the inattentive, the uninterested, the willing-but-incompetent—not one face came to mind as belonging to a person able to be pitchforked, at the twelfth hour, into an unrehearsed part and make a workmanlike job of it. Troubling to discover Kingscote students aren't more capable than that.


Re: The Play

Date: 2014-09-19 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nineveh-uk.livejournal.com
Indicative of Kingscote's allocation of 'parts' to students in quite another way? That there are probably plenty of girls capable of it, but they've been labeled as variously unsuitable. Goodness knows, the "uninterested" might just be uninterested because they haven't got anything at all to do!

Re: The Play

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Re: The Play

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Re: The Play

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Re: The Play

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Date: 2014-09-19 05:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-redboots.livejournal.com
...juxtaposed to both mothers' assumption that the real friendship is between Nicola and Patrick

Well, at that stage, of course, it was. It wasn't until Peter's Room that Patrick became interested in Ginty, and I will say nothing further about that here as we'll be discussing it so soon.

Meanwhile, these are my very favourite chapters of one of my very favourite books. I am always amused by Nicola's conviction that if you rang up the House of Commons the person who answered would be the Speaker, which always seems totally logical to me. And poor Nicola, ruining The Cruel Sea, another of my all-time favourites; I wonder how old she will have to be to learn that on such occasions you re-read an old friend, not try something new.

Val Longstreet doesn't cover herself with glory during these chapters, does she? First of all she shows her incredulity that Nicola's MP might wish to ring her up, and then her utterly crass comment about Miranda, which, as Nicola realises, is actually far worse than Lawrie not being able to play the Shepherd Boy.

It's all a bit daft really, and the staff do seem frantically incompetent... and in the end, it was all for the best. And yes, the anticipation of Blood for Breakfast is far and away nicer than actually seeing it happening!

Date: 2014-09-19 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hagsrus.livejournal.com
"Nicola's conviction that if you rang up the House of Commons the person who answered would be the Speaker..."

Going from memory here because I don't have access to the books* at present but wasn't it Winston Churchill she expected?

(*Did somebody mention the possibility of getting text files? They'd be so welcome!)

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Re: a bit OT

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Random thoughts

Date: 2014-09-19 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emily-shore.livejournal.com
I wonder that there aren’t more questions about Nicola receiving phone calls from an MP about a dog, but perhaps I don’t run in quite the same circles as the inmates of Kingscote.

I wonder whether it's the sort of thing where having to ask marks you as being hopelessly not the right class. And so no one does.

I think Forest does a good job of suggesting Lawrie's talent: for me, the most telling detail is that she has the gift of eliciting better performances from the others; given Lawrie's self-conceit and self-centredness, this must be a pure function of her gift: I've worked with actors like that, though, and it is a real thing.

It's perfectly likely that Forest knew enough about acting to have observed this for herself, but it could also be another of the traits that links Lawrie to (as you know, Bob) one of Mary Renault's actor characters, Julian Fleming.

I also like Miranda's puzzled response to the improbability of the Christian story: 'so unlikely, it would have to be true' is in some ways not a bad approximation to certain understandings of the way faith works.

Have to admit that I read this completely differently. Miranda's observation has that tinge of Christian apologetics about it; I feel it falls somewhere in the neighbourhood of Lewis's trilemma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis's_trilemma). As such I have the sneaking suspicion that it sets Miranda up for a conversion from Judaism to Christianity, following in the footsteps of Forest herself. People will have their own opinions on the likeliness or the desirability of that, but for me that line definitely struck an "off" note.

Re: Random thoughts

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Re: Random thoughts

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Re: Random thoughts

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Date: 2014-09-19 10:36 pm (UTC)
hooloovoo_42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hooloovoo_42
I never have any problem with anyone who hates Dickens! Having suffered Great Expectations for O level, when I read the first 20 chapters for a test and vowed never to pick the ruddy book up ever again, I have serious doubts about anyone who doesn't hate Dickens.

Some of the TV adaptations have been excellent, but then you don't have to sit through what seems like 27 pages of description of it being foggy!

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Hunt for Red October

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Nicola and Dickens

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Dickens

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Date: 2014-09-19 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] highfantastical.livejournal.com
I've felt for a while that AF really matures stylistically in End of Term. Not to say that the earlier books aren't fantastic too, with some moments which are head-and-shoulders above other -- not even average, but good -- children's authors, but somehow I feel she comes into a greater degree of assurance and stylistic finesse at this point, and that fuels some of the experimentation and risk-taking that will follow (e.g. in Thuggery). The conclusion of the play chapter verges on technically perfect, I think, which isn't something I'd say at all lightly. And of course all of this isn't a 'cold' sort of knack for handling style: she is still extremely funny; her characterisations are still agonising and compelling, &c.

Date: 2014-09-20 08:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] intrepid--fox.livejournal.com
I agree. One of the things I particularly love us how she brackets off the set-piece of the Play with those two paragraphs about the snow-covered Minster: "Untrodden whiteness covered the cloister garth...The silence was absolute..." It's a brilliant piece of writing.

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From: [identity profile] antfan.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-09-22 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand

this time tomorrow and tossing a coin

Date: 2014-09-20 06:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sprog-63.livejournal.com
Coin tossing - absolutely, I put my hand up to this one: I suspect I may have learned it here, too.

I don't generally use "this time tomorrow" but do remember thinking before childbirth, "However difficult and painful, it'll only be 24 hours." (As they were clear in ante-natal they wouldn't let one go longer without major intervention).

Re: this time tomorrow and tossing a coin

Date: 2014-09-20 07:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackmerlin.livejournal.com
I regularly say this time tomorrow it'll all be over, and do usually find it comforting - depending on the level of dread. And now I say it to my daughter who doesn't find it comforting at all!
Coin tossing - absolutely. I came across a verse about that very idea - by Piet Hein.

A PSYCHOLOGICAL TIP

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
and you’re hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No — not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you’re passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

Nicola on Lawrie's triumph (and Helen Bagshaw)

Date: 2014-09-20 07:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sprog-63.livejournal.com
"I wonder how Nicola feels about Lawrie's triumph, given that Nicola prefers acting to singing, but has been repeatedly told she was never quite right as the Shepherd Boy and so on."

The one bit of dialogue which never quite works for me is Nicola asking Miranda, "What did you think of Lawrie?" Is she looking for the reassurance that Lawrie wan't better than her (slightly uncharacteristic)? In which case she certainly doesn't get it, but neither words nor author's view of her response shows she minds Miranda being clear on this point. Is it a way of showing the reader that Lawrie really is an actress with special talent? On top of Patrick and Rowan's responses and Mrs Merrick and Grandmother, we need Miranda putting honesty before Nicola's feelings?

And yet, Nicola isn't shown to mind this at all (which figures, she is always indulgent of Lawrie, partly to circumvent the fuss there'd be otherwise and partly because she's Lawrie. Was Nicola relieved to be relieved of the Shepherd Boy for something she will shine at? Or does she look for Miranda's view to reassure herself that in spite of the forthcoming blood for breakfast, it was all worth it: not just for themselves as participants, but the audience as a performance or even act of worship?

[livejournal.com profile] rose_and_lizard gives Helen Bagshaw her chance in the great, canon-esque Term of Duty (”http://rose-and-lizard.livejournal.com/23147.html”) . Run, and find out!
From: [identity profile] nzraya.livejournal.com
Perhaps she means "As a person who's seen the whole play multiple times and has an outside perspective on it (being neither a Christian nor, till today, a participant), what did you think of Lawrie's interpretation of the Shepherd Boy character?" After all, we know Lawrie reads the part completely differently from Kempe, and from the way it's Always Been Done. And Miranda (as discussed above) has repeatedly shown herself to be knowledgeable and discerning both about the play as a theatrical work (and of course she has a background in theatre, of sorts) and about the Christian story and its historical context. So her opinion of Lawrie's Shepherd Boy -- not just as a piece of acting, but as an interpretation of the story and character -- would be worth knowing. Plus, Nicola, having been relentlessly instructed on how to play the role by Kempe, would be more surprised than most by Lawrie's very dfferent interpretation, I should think.

Date: 2014-09-20 03:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sprog-63.livejournal.com
Sorry, sorry, I thought I'd cracked it, it worked fine when I tried in my journal!!

Let's try this:

Term of Duty (”http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=rose_and_lizard&keyword=Term+Of+Duty&filter=all”)

it looks alright in preview!

Date: 2014-09-20 05:35 pm (UTC)
hooloovoo_42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hooloovoo_42
Could someone please let me know if they can point me at a copy of Peter's Room.

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From: [personal profile] hooloovoo_42 - Date: 2014-09-20 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2014-09-21 03:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ratfan.livejournal.com
I always think this book is much more detailed as to characters than previous ones, though Autumn Term is also good. Traitors came over to me as a kids-on-adventure story, where you don't need to go all that deeply into the kids in question. Falconer's Lure was an improvement on that (in my opinion, folks, that's all) but this book grabs me every time I read it, even though I would have been one of those sitting in the back hoping not to be noticed! I was definitely "Sheep, noises off!"

May I also note my eternal regret at not grabbing a hardcopy of Peter's Room when I had the chance? I already have a paperback copy in good condition which I found in an unlikely lot of children's books (rather like Nicola with the Art of Falconerie!) and thought I did not need another copy, not realising its rarity!, when I saw it in a market bookstall. I hope the person who did buy it appreciates it!
Edited Date: 2014-09-21 03:37 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-09-21 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sprog-63.livejournal.com
I also didn't enjoy TMATT paticularly as a child/teenager and certainly didn't re-read it often. I still think the adventure ones come off least well (but I don't count The Ready-Made Family as adventure), though there are bits in both which are good (esp. in my overall least favourite: Thuggery) and if I had to leave two behind, they would be the ones. However, I did find new depths to TMATT in the read through, did you find that your view changed?

"Ouch" to missing a hardback copy of Peter's Room.

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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Re: unpopular opinion corner

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IRe: unpopular opinion corner

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Date: 2014-09-21 09:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antisoppist.livejournal.com
"Bitten off more than she can chew" made me think there's an awful lot of people saying yes to daunting things on the spur of the moment in Forest and what matters is how they cope with them, or don't. It keeps reminding me of that moment of horror in Ballet Shoes - "Petrova Fossil, what have you done? You have asked for a part you couldn't possibly act" - though fortunately for Petrova the moment of realisation occurs not when she is halfway up a cliff/trapped in a cinema with a member of a drug gang/in the middle of the school carol service. It ties in with all the bravery/courage/self-knowledge stuff, of which much more in Peter's Room.

I'm wondering now about the significance of why the people say yes to the scary thing - duty, overconfidence, not having thought through the implications, fear of other people's opinions of you, having been brought up to believe that you are supposed to take on character-building challenges... Have we got room for an "overarching themes" discussion once we've read through the lot?

I can never decide whether End of Term or Cricket Term is my favourite Forest but EOT is always my favourite Forest in December.

Date: 2014-09-21 11:20 am (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
Oh, I do hope so.

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From: [identity profile] buntyandjinx.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-09-22 11:40 am (UTC) - Expand

A Day, A Day of Glory

Date: 2014-09-22 11:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] buntyandjinx.livejournal.com
I love the focus on the carols but was always intrigued AF chose this as the lead one - I have never heard it in real life (and I've been to a lot of carol services) . As a child I remember begging my utterly bemused piano teacher to play it to me, when I found the music, so I could hear the tune in my head when reading (i was never good enough at piano to trust my own interpretation). As an adult, one of the great joys of the internet was being able to listen to it - finally. But was it a popular carol once? Or was AF/Dr Herrick deliberately plumping for obscurity. I have to say, it does come across as quite plinky plonky online and not a show opener

Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

Date: 2014-09-22 03:13 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle (from livejournal.com)
There's a BBC recording of it we've got that makes it sound pretty good.

Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

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Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

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Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

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Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

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Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

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Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

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Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

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Re: A Day, A Day of Glory

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The Audience

Date: 2014-09-22 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Do they have improbably good manners, or am I misjudging what people were like? I was always taught not to applaud in church, but can't help noticing that people, including those no longer young, do so all the time. Wouldn't some of the audience have clapped at the end, even if they stopped in embarrassment, realizing it was not a general thing?

And come to think of it, what beautiful manners Patrick and Rowan show in giving up their seats even though they have presumably been waiting for ages for the play to start. It seems highly untoward for the church to have sold more tickets than they have seats.

Caroline

Re: The Audience

Date: 2014-09-23 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emma anderson (from livejournal.com)
There are seats available, but they can't hear at the back (if I recall correctly).

Re: The Audience

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Re: The Audience

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The Shepherd Boy and Marie Dobson

Date: 2014-09-23 02:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elktheory.livejournal.com
In thinking about the Christmas Play, it occurred to me that there are some similarities between the Shepherd Boy (at least in Lawrie's interpretation) and Marie Dobson. Marie is described as officious and far too eager to please. But from a more sympathetic perspective, we could read her actions as akin to the "desperate, propitiatory effort" of the Shepherd Boy to make his brothers laugh and like him. Marie also wants to be friends with her classmates but she has no idea how to go about it, and she too fails and goes too far. I don't know whether Forest wants us to draw this conclusion explicitly, by the way. But Marie is one of those characters who offers us glimpses that show she has been consistently misinterpreted by her peers.

I really feel for Marie. While I can understand why Nicola holds a grudge against her (though even Marie's lying WRT Guides has always struck me as far less appalling than Lois' behavior at the same time), there seems no reason for everybody else to dislike her so intensely. And I suppose that is what makes the depiction of this aspect of childhood so accurate and chilling. We see things from the side of the "in-crowd" and their casual exclusion and even outright bullying of Marie is presented as natural and perfectly reasonable to them (though I think Forest is somewhat less forgiving of the way they treat Marie). It makes me shudder, especially when the staff essentially collude in this behavior.

Re: The Shepherd Boy and Marie Dobson

Date: 2014-09-23 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Yes, Marie is quite a haunting character. The division between someone being seen as pleasant and helpful, and someone seen as desperate and needy is not that great, but teachers can be pretty intolerant of pupils they put in the second category, even though you would think they would step back and ask where the desperation comes from. It is hard to say why some children show this kind of catastrophic lack of social judgement, so they pin a target on their own back.

I like the comparison with the shepherd boy, though I'm sure we are not supposed to perceive him as like Marie in general personality.

It is one of the things that separates Antonia Forest from almost all her contemporaneous or earlier school story writers, that she can leave us with a moral ambiguity like the way Marie Dobson is treated over the netball swap. Nothing is resolved about it, and there is no authorial voice pointing us to a moral. Like life, it remains messy. CB

Re: The Shepherd Boy and Marie Dobson

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Re: The Shepherd Boy and Marie Dobson

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Re: The Shepherd Boy and Marie Dobson

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2014-09-24 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand

Ann/religion/Miranda/exclusion/acting

Date: 2014-09-24 07:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antfan.livejournal.com
I always rather like the fact that Ann, cast according to Mrs Keith’s much derided “character” principle, turns out actually to be a very good Mary.

And it is because she’s genuinely religious, isn’t it? – nobody ever suggests she’s anything of an actress otherwise.

It harks back to Miranda’s point in the art room discussion – when she’s mocking her friends’ irreligiosity and defending Miss Keith’s view and Tim says that if they all felt about the play as Ann does maybe it would indeed be an act of Offering – and then Lawrie says that its more important to make the audience feel religious. The way it turns out, it seems that both Miss Keith/Ann and Lawrie are right.

So the “message” here – sorry, clumsy I know – is maybe not that the play shouldn’t be religious, it is religious, but that it’s become a sort of unfortunate hybrid between those who really believe (Keith/Ann) and those who are only Christian by default (most of the rest of the cast). And it is two outsiders, Miranda and Patrick, who can see the Nativity story most clearly and be moved by it (Nicola, interestingly , hardly notices it apart from Lawrie’s bit). And Ann, who is the most sincere believer, and Lawrie, who is least sincere but most artistically committed, are the ones who can turn in the most credible performances.

And this is maybe reflecting Forest’s thoughts about the C of E that have been mentioned in previous threads…that it’s become social and conventional, and therefore somehow lost touch with a more Medieval origin simplicity and sincerity?

I also think this tension between the Play as religious and artistic makes Miranda’s exclusion rather ambiguous – Miranda’s anger, and the fact that she’s had a conversation with Nicola about anti-Semitism a few pages previously, suggest that she feels unfairly discriminated against – that Val at least is being somewhat anti-Semitic – but if the play is to be taken seriously as an Act of Worship, then it would indeed be disrespectful to Miranda’s own religion to expect or even allow her to participate. I don’t think there’s anyway round this – at least not for a school at that time and place.

Another thing – somewhere in The Marlows and their Maker there is a quote from Forest about writing along the lines of “things come off better when I remain completely detached” and I wonder if it’s her sense that the best writing comes from detachment rather than emotional involvement that is behind Lawrie’s argument about acting, which seems to be saying essentially the same thing.

(Sorry for adding all this so late and apologies if it overlaps with other comments – though this time I really have tried to read everything!)

Re: Ann/religion/Miranda/exclusion/acting

Date: 2014-09-24 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It does seem a little odd that Rowan should have had a main part the year before. Was it her enthusiasm for netball that made Miss Keith think she would be a spiritually rewarding angel? I think we are meant to accept her assessment that she 'wasn't much good'; she was neither an actress like Lawrie nor someone whose sincerity shone through like Ann.

CB

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