Calling Antonia Forest fans - who is your favourite character and who are you most like?

(102 Posts)
MirandaWest Thu 29-Aug-13 20:03:04

Have been doing some re-reading of Antonia Forest books (including Spring Term which I had only read once before and couldn't remember much at all blush)

As is probably clear I do like Miranda very much smile And also like Rowan too. Ginty annoys me, as does Lawrie to a lesser extent.

I enjoy reading about Nicola but in real life I think I would find her a bit intimidating.

I do sometimes think I might be an Esther. But at least I am not a Lois....

5Foot5 Thu 29-Aug-13 22:25:20

Don't mean to be picky but can we describe Antonia Forest as "Adult Fiction"?

Don't get me wrong - I love "Autumn Term" and if I were lucky (or rich) enough to be able to get hold of the others I would read them like a shot. I am a big fan of girls' school stories. But doesn't this belong in Childrens?

HumphreyCobbler Thu 29-Aug-13 22:28:05

Do you have the complete set Miranda? envy

I have spent many hours pondering which one I would most LIKE to be, but I fear that I am not actually like any of them.

I am a Nicola fan really, though Tim and Lawrie are utterly brilliant characters. But they are all brilliant. I love those books.

HumphreyCobbler Thu 29-Aug-13 22:31:47

I have not read Spring Term, I assumed it would not be any good and I really couldn't bear it..

kalidasa Thu 29-Aug-13 22:37:41

I'm not sure any children actually read Forest these days so I reckon the thread is probably in the right place!

I particularly like Janice.

MirandaWest Thu 29-Aug-13 22:53:08

I did consider putting it in Children's Fiction but did a search first and other people have gone for Adult Fiction so I have too smile

Janice is great actually (of course Miranda would say that smile)

Cantdothisagain Fri 30-Aug-13 11:44:06

I am most like Karen. Not a good thing.

I like Miranda. Though she is mean sometimes.

teabagpleb Fri 30-Aug-13 13:52:06

I'm probably Jan Scott - had attitude problem thus not worthy of being a prefect etc. Only with Lawrie's being scared of stuff, and Rowan's practicality. Actually might just be Rowan. When not clamping mangolds...

CJCregg Fri 30-Aug-13 18:49:59

Lovely idea for a thread. Miranda, I think I met you at a meet-up when you were LawrieMarlow grin

You're supposed to like Rowan and Janice, because Nicola likes them best and, mostly, the world is seen through her perspective. I totally agree that IRL I would probably find Nicola intimidating - she's so self-assured. I have always wished I had one tiny fraction of her confidence and the ease with which she achieves things.

I like Tim but wouldn't necessarily like to be friends with her. (That makes me Nicola, doesn't it?!)

Tell you who I can't bear - those awful friends of Ginty's. Jocelyn and Isa and Emma and Verity. Ghastly crew, they are.

I came on here to look for an Elizabeth Jane Howard thread, and have been completely sidetracked. I love Antonia Forest, and have most of the books, either in original from childhood or gradually obtained through second-hand dealers. Is Spring Term worth reading? I sort of can't bear to ...

Cantdothisagain Fri 30-Aug-13 19:04:40

I don't know whether to read Spring Term or not either...

ParkerTheThief Fri 30-Aug-13 19:08:58

I'm probably an Esther, without the beauty.

I like Rowan and Peter best.

I'm not keen on Ginty, I think I'd dislike her in real life.

ParkerTheThief Fri 30-Aug-13 19:11:27

I didn't like Spring Term, it just didn't quite feel right to me. In fact, I can't remember the plot because I think I have blanked it from my mind whereas I know the others inside out.

DH bought me the complete set for Christmas years ago. It was the best present I have ever received. They are referred to as the precious books in the style of Gollum.

beatricequimby Fri 30-Aug-13 19:30:39

I think I might be Sally or Maggie Sutton. Quite nice but not inner circle.

beatricequimby Fri 30-Aug-13 19:31:16

Apart from Nicola, I like Miranda and Esther best.

MirandaWest Fri 30-Aug-13 19:42:29

I did enjoy Spring Term but it definitely wasn't quite the same and I think the fact I couldn't remember any of it says quite a lot.

lotsofdirections Fri 30-Aug-13 23:10:40

Jan Scott is my favourite although I do have a soft spot for Pomona! Spring Term is entertaining as one fan's interpretation as to what happens next.

BTW I have a spare copy of 'Fly Away Home' available for a donation to BHF.

lotsofdirections Fri 30-Aug-13 23:47:58

DUH! I mean't 'Run Away Home' of course, sorry.

ravenAK Fri 30-Aug-13 23:53:29

I'd rather like to be Miss Cromwell, actually.

'Spring Term' didn't quite do it for me. Wasn't convinced by the total destruction of Ginty, or Patrick & Nicola - & the intermittent attempts at AF's style didn't quite come off. Brave effort, though!

My favourite books are 'The Player's Boy'/'The Players & the Rebels', although 'Peter's Room' is a close runner up.

Cantdothisagain Sat 31-Aug-13 04:58:42

I've only read the school ones. I would love Run Away Home and be happy to pay you for it or donate.

I was terrified of Miss Cromwell but yes she had something about her. Really despised Miss Redmond, the Guide woman, for believing Lois constantly. And liked the laid back one - what was her name? - the one who took a pragmatic approach.

Agree with PP about Ginty's awful friends.

I loved these books and still have them and reread them a couple of years ago. Her characters feel so real!

LifeHuh Sat 31-Aug-13 21:37:08

My favorites are Karen and Jan. And actually I like Ann too - I think she gets a bum deal because AF doesn't like her...

Rowan would scare me in RL - she is intimidating in the books I think, so very competent and sure of herself.
Most like? Hmm-in my RL schooldays I think I'd probably have been "one more infant rabbit keeping her tiny end up" (have I misquoted/misremembered that?) Definitely not a sporty popular Marlow.

Think perhaps I am an amalgam of Karen/Ann/Patrick/Lois....<contemplates own character in horror smile >

I've read Spring Term, but it hasn't stuck in my memory which isn't much of a recommendation!

teabagpleb Sun 01-Sep-13 07:30:54

I read Spring Term. It was OK but had too many italics in it, and once I'd first noticed that, I couldn't ignore them. I wasn't convinced by absolutely no-one having any sympathy for Ginty, and the Redmond being crap was a bit ropey too - needed a bit more effort to be convincing.

I'd definitely have been absent rabbit on the sports field, but would have been the Narrator in any play, making Autumn Term very different!

I need to re-read the Players books - I got both when GGB printed them, but forgot what happened in the first by the time I got the second.

CJCregg Sun 01-Sep-13 10:45:34

I ordered Spring Term at 1am last night, thanks to this thread grin.

I never read the Player's Boy ones, for some reason. I might try to hunt them down. Anything for a bit of an AF fix.

My favourite is Peter's Room. I love the relationships between them all, and I think what she does with the Gondal and Angria Brontë stuff is quite extraordinary.

ParkerTheThief Sun 01-Sep-13 15:02:48

I started a complete reread of the series last night thanks to this thread.

I read an interesting article somewhere (can't recall where) saying that in any other school story Ann would have been the heroine. She's honest, well behaved, hardworking etc.

I can't decide which book is my favourite. I'm very fond of Faconer's Lure, but I love the Gondalling in Peter's Room.

I love End of Term when Miranda goes from being someone who Nicola doesn't like to a friend.

CJCregg Sun 01-Sep-13 15:27:48

Yes - Miranda of 'Kitchen and Jumble is quite good enough for Third Remove' fame grin

ParkerTheThief Sun 01-Sep-13 15:28:09

I've just been looking at the GirlsGoneBy website and I can see they are publishing some of The Chalet School books as ebooks.
I wonder if they'll do the Antonia Forest ones. I'd love to have them on my Kindle so I could read them anywhere.

MooncupGoddess Mon 02-Sep-13 13:34:57

Yes, I love Peter's Room best too - though The Ready-Made Family is pretty impressive too.

I find most of AF's characters v convincing but Rowan is too self-assured for a 17-year-old... I can't imagine her in real life, unlike most of the others (I had a friend at school who was Lawrie to a T).

Spring Term is better than I expected and has a few genuinely Foresty turns of phrase, but the Ginty plot is weak and there is some ridiculous slush regarding Patrick and Nicola that would make AF turn in her grave.

Would very much recommend the Players books to any Marlow fans who haven't read them. They are amazing.

kalidasa Mon 02-Sep-13 14:16:30

The best 'imitation' Forest I have ever read is on this website:

Scroll down to the 'Introduction post' for the AF stuff.

I think 'Run Away Home' is my favourite single book too.

LifeHuh Mon 02-Sep-13 20:18:44

Rose and Lizard's writing is fantastic I think.IMO she has got AF's voice to a T,though I know not everyone agrees.
I particularly like " Dangers Untold,Hardships Unnumbered"

I've been trying to decide which book is my favorite,and apart from not being so keen on The Marlows and the Traitor it is impossible to decide.

This is the link to that article about Ann ParkerTheThief mentioned,if anyone is interested- I knew I'd read it at some point!

And if you are still here,CJ hello! Pogle in disguise here - how the devil are you,as my old boss would say? grin

Littlemousewithcloggson Mon 02-Sep-13 20:42:06

Oooooooooo I love those books. Peters room is def the best as far as I'm concerned.

CJCregg Mon 02-Sep-13 22:05:18

POGLE! grin shock grin

How completely lovely to see you - and on an AF thread, what a surprise wink

Do you see the others around, ever? Someone did a similar book-related AIBU thread recently and it made me feel all nostalgic. That raft ... that lamb ... grin

LifeHuh Tue 03-Sep-13 07:12:53

smile Yes,can't imagine what either of us are doing here! wink

Oh heavens - I had actually forgotten the lamb- how could I have forgotten the lamb? Poor innocent creature... grin

That AIBU thread definitely was a blast from the past. Aah,those were fun times! Elephants is around,isn't she,but I don't see anyone else - though of course no-one is seeing me either and I am still here!

Lovely to see you around smile (glad you haven't name changed!!)

QuidditchTonedThighs Tue 03-Sep-13 08:57:10

I adore Rowan, Miranda, Tim and Patrick, but it wasn't until I was an adult that I realised that Forest meant me to like Nicola best. I always loved Lawrie the best, and still do. I can relate to her dramatics, terrors and Lawrie-thinking much better than I can to Nicola's courageous and mostly sensible cleverness.

As for interesting characters - isn't Lois Sanger the absolute business? Just a fantastic creation, and a fascinating person's head to be inside of. And Ginty is another compelling character with hints of awfulness - but you can always relate to what she is feeling. Forest is a genius, really no exaggeration. Now I have tried to write my own fiction I am in utter awe of her skill.

I think I am probably still most like Lawrie, unfortunately, at least internally. I'd like to be Rowan grin Someone upthread said Rowan at 17 was unbelievable, but I don't agree. The Marlows are not your normal family and I don't think Rowan is so very out of the ordinary.

QuidditchTonedThighs Tue 03-Sep-13 09:02:21

btw, if anyone else is a fan of Harry Potter as well as Forest, these stories are wonderful and beautifully in character.

A Wand with Sixteen Strings series

There's one where one of the Marlows is revealed as Draco's wife grin They are funny and believably Potter as well as AF.

I read Spring Term, but, although I admired the attempt, I didn't quite feel she pulled it off.

And to the poster who said they had not yet read The Players books, you are in for a treat when you do. Just wonderful [happy sigh]

CJCregg Tue 03-Sep-13 09:34:40

That would be me, Quidditch grin

I love those fanfic stories - they're surprisingly good. Even <gasp> the crossover ones.

I started Spring Term last night - I have to say that so far I'm quite impressed. She's really got AF's tone. It was like meeting old friends again smile

CJCregg Tue 03-Sep-13 09:36:21

Pogle, I have spotted Poledra occasionally but otherwise everyone seems to have drifted off on their own separate rafts sad

Mind you, name changes don't help <hard stare>


mrsshackleton Tue 03-Sep-13 09:51:46

My favourite character is Ginty - not the character I like best, but the one that fascinates me most. I'm boringly closest to Nicola (without the brilliance at games), but Nicola is an idealised everywoman, so that's not surprising.

I generally liked Spring Term and hope the author does another, though no way would AF have allowed Nicola and Patrick's relationship to actually become a gloopy romance <shudder> and the Ginty plot slid into melodrama. Disagree with whoever complained about itallics, AF's work is full of itallics, being the interesting child I was, I once counted something like 20 on one page of The Cricket Term, (which is her masterpiece imo).,

mrsshackleton Tue 03-Sep-13 09:53:10

Also especially like - as in find brilliantly depicted - Miranda and Marie Dobson - the scene when she discovers about the netball trick and the scene where they learn about her death are two of the most chilling in fiction, imvho.

QuidditchTonedThighs Tue 03-Sep-13 09:54:27

I disliked the romance in Spring Term, I must say. It didn't have the edge and the... well, the way Forest would just imply reams of stuff with a look or a thought or a seemingly casual remark that would be obsessed about for weeks. But to manage that, you have to BE Forest, I'd imagine.

mrsshackleton Tue 03-Sep-13 10:53:00

Agree, Af would have thought Spring Term romance "welly icky".

QuidditchTonedThighs Tue 03-Sep-13 12:00:02

Marie Dobson another superb creation, you're right! I always think of that brilliant passage where they realise that even the reviled Marie Dobson has feelings and "minds."

HumphreyCobbler Tue 03-Sep-13 12:06:46

I am not entirely sure about Nicola being an idealised everywoman. She has flaws. Her friends abandon her, both Tim and Patrick move on to having a meaningful relationship with her sister instead. She is terrified of riding and gets seasick. I DO see what you mean though.

Marie Dobson is brilliantly drawn. I agree that the netball scene is chilling. Reading that post having my own children made me actually upset.

MrsOakenshield Tue 03-Sep-13 12:11:01

sorry, which is Spring Term - the school ones I had were, in order, Autumn Term, End of Term, The Cricket Term and The Attic Term.

I would love to be like Rowan, to the extent that I had the name, based on her, on my baby names' list. I fear I am quite like Ginty (not beautiful, but fickle and rather all over the place), which is handy as I would so shag Patrick.

MinnieBar Tue 03-Sep-13 12:11:23

I used to love these books when younger but don't have them any more sad.

WHY are they all/nearly all out of print/ridiculously expensive/unavailable on kindle? WHY??!

mrsshackleton Tue 03-Sep-13 12:54:08

I head the reason they're so hard to get hold of was to do with some argument with Penguin, who published her later books in paperback. It's infuriating. I have all of them except Falconer's Lure and The Marlows and The Traitor, luckily I took them out of the library so much as a child i can still remember chunks by heart.

Spring Term is a fanfiction novel that takes on where AF left off.

And yes, Nicola has flaws but they're relatable flaws, and not fatal, which is not the case with Ginty, Karen, Ann, Patrick etc etc.

Someone said AF was the Jane Austen of children's writers, I disagree, she's better than JA and everyone should read her.

MrsOakenshield Tue 03-Sep-13 13:07:43

ah right. And Nicola gets together with Patrick?? I find that so hard to swallow. I was assuming he had his first fling with Claudie - I can't see Nicola following on from that, tbh.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 03-Sep-13 13:08:41

MrsOakenshield, you can have Patrick but Giles is mine wink

HumphreyCobbler Tue 03-Sep-13 13:13:42

I love the way books are mentioned in AF novels. I am a real Mary Renault obsessive so love the Mask of Apollo reference in Cricket Term. I think that Renault and Forest share similar gifts despite their subject matter being so different. They are both totally convincing in drawing complex characters and manage to indicate deep layers of meaning with seemingly simple prose.

ParkerTheThief Tue 03-Sep-13 19:56:17

I emailed girls gone by to see if they were planning on releasing any of them as ebooks, unfortunately the answer was no, not at the moment.

Some of my favourite parts are with Lois. When Lois gets Nicola dropped from the netball team her thought process are so real I actually feel embarrassed for her as she implies that Nicola shouldn't be in the team.

Cantdothisagain Tue 03-Sep-13 19:56:41

Is Spring Term gloopy romance? Thinking I might not bother now.

Agree about Lois Sanger. I love in End of Term where she realises she can casually cause trouble for Nicola with well chosen hints about falconry being prioritised over netball. Totally loved the tribunal in Autumn Term too.

I loved the scene in that book too where Tim is goading Nicola over the tidiness monitor thing and chalks a caricature on the board to wind Nicola up, and Nicola is driven to wipe it off. The characters are all so real!

mrsshackleton Tue 03-Sep-13 21:53:08

Spring Term isn't gloopy romance, it's very good, it's just Patrick and Nicola are a little soppier than they would have been in AF land. But it's still very good and worth a read.

I think Girls Gone By are in some kind of cartel and selling the precious copies they reissued of Falconer's Lure etc and then rapidly withdrew for a fortune on amazon etc. Why didn't they just do another print run?

HumphreyCobbler Tue 03-Sep-13 22:11:06

Why indeed? It is awful they way we can't get hold of these books. I only have Cricket Term, Autumn Term, End of Term and The Marlows and the Traitor (this is a lovely hardback copy). I would KILL for the others, esp Peter's Room.

MirandaWest Tue 03-Sep-13 22:14:59

I was lucky and managed to get nearly all of them when GGB first reprinted them. Although I never bought the Players ones - not sure why.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 03-Sep-13 22:20:27

I have not read the Players ones, never really knew about them as a child when I got all the others from the library and only discovered they existed when I realised there were other Antonia Forest fans in the world. I have still not met anyone in real life who has read AF.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 03-Sep-13 22:21:09

someone on here bought a complete set at a car boot sale the other day envy

ParkerTheThief Tue 03-Sep-13 22:46:00

Wow, I've got a full set and Id have still bought them if I'd seen them at a carboot - either as a backup set or to spread the AF love

CJCregg Tue 03-Sep-13 23:37:00

I hate the GGB reprints, anyway. I am constantly scouring secondhand bookshops for AF.

I have original End of Term, Autumn Term (hardback!), Peter's Room, The Attic Term and a fairly shitty Penguin paperback of The Cricket Term. I got The Ready Made Family from GGB.

The one I really, really want is Falconer's Lure. I only read it once - from the library, aged about 13 - and never saw it again.

Oh, and of course, now I have Spring Term as well grin hmm

QuidditchTonedThighs Wed 04-Sep-13 07:46:58

The Players titles are some of my favourites and I usually loathe historical fiction. The way she brings together Shakespeare, Marlow ancestors (Nicholas is a wonderfully likeable protagonist, and recognisably a Marlow), and her own original characters, is a tour de force. Just superbly enjoyable and (to me) wonderfully placed in the historical period.

tryingtoleave Wed 04-Sep-13 07:59:09

I like Miranda and Janice best.

I really dislike Patrick. I think I have said this on mn before but he is a very unreliable friend. He dumps Peter for Nicola and then Nicola for Ginty. It's like he can only concentrate on one person at once, which is probably what makes him attractive as a friend (I am only interested in YOU). I have met people like that.

I would like to be like Nicola, but I fear I am more like Lawrie...

kalidasa Wed 04-Sep-13 09:40:53

I admit I have all of them, in various editions - originals, some GGB reprints and also a fresh copy of Autumn Term in the Faber reprint they did because my old one has pretty much fallen apart. Most precious though is a copy of 'Cricket Term' which my little sister - who is massively massively shy and hates drawing attention to herself in any way - got out of her school library for me when I was a teenager, and then she managed to persuade them to sell it to her for my birthday (!) rather than take it back, on the basis that no-one else had taken it out for yonks. I have no idea where she found the nerve but I am still extremely grateful! (Though I feel a bit bad in retrospect about the library - at the time I didn't know anyone else who read them so assumed I was alone in my eccentric passion)

I do still always look for them in second hand bookshops and so on but it is so easy now to check the prices of things online that it must be getting harder and harder to find real bargains - only likely at a boot sale or something where they haven't bothered to check.

The Players books are almost the only historical fiction I have ever managed to finish (I have a huge block about it - can't even read the Mantel books even though I am a great fan of her novels). I actually work on that period and I think she has done a very good job.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 04-Sep-13 11:55:17

FrannyandZooey posted Falconer's Lure and Run Away Home to me so that I could read them. It was incredibly kind of her. I will always remember it.

CJCregg Wed 04-Sep-13 18:57:34

I have finished Spring Term, at ridiculous speed. I'm glad I read it, and in some ways it's a pretty impressive feat. But I agree with the poster who said there were just too many italics - yes, AF used italics quite liberally but just as often she didn't need to - they were implicit in the dialogue itself.

I also rather enjoyed the dissection of Ginty Marlow, even if the whole thing was a bit daft, really. And just eewwwww to the Patrick and Nicola stuff. But lovely Dr Herrick, fab Marlow/Dodd/Kingscote randoms cameos and thank goodness that business with Esther has finally been resolved.

All in all, thoroughly enjoyable, if a little ersatz grin

decaffwithcream Wed 04-Sep-13 19:13:22

I liked Spring Term. I heard the author is writing a further sequel which I will be getting ASAP.

The sections that Antonia Forest cut from the final edit of Run Away Home were printed a few years ago - has anyone read them? Buster was originally going to die after taking Edward and Nicola to the coast, Karen talks to Giles about Edwin and she had included a scene where Patrick kisses Nicola.

I think of those scenes as "canon" since they are written by Antonia Forest but obviously Buster was still alive and well in Spring Term!

MirandaWest Wed 04-Sep-13 19:23:27

I've read those alternative versions of Run Away Home but can't remember where. Also thought I had one AF book on my kindle but seemingly not.

My copy of Cricket Term is literally falling apart sad I bought it in Oxfam for 79p several years ago.

ravenAK Wed 04-Sep-13 19:41:25

Humphrey Cobbler - another Mary Renault obsessive here. I remember reading the 'Mask of Apollo' references in Cricket Term & rushing off to read that next when I was about 10!

decaffwithcream Wed 04-Sep-13 19:46:17

They were in the Celebrating Antonia Forest book from GGB, most of the book is papers from an AF conference.

You should go to one of those and pose your OP question over dinner wink

decaffwithcream Wed 04-Sep-13 19:48:34

American eBay sellers sometimes have cheaper copies of most of the books.

Cheaper than the UK eBay sellers that is.

Not sure about postage but worth keeping an eye on the American eBay site if people are looking.

CJCregg Wed 04-Sep-13 19:49:52

An AF conference????

<justified italics use>

ParkerTheThief Wed 04-Sep-13 19:54:30

I've had two copies of cricket term that fell apart.
I've still got one and I passed the other onto a mumsnetter who hadn't read it, she didn't seem to mind that it was literally loose pages.

My end oif term is also in a bit of a delicate state.

decaffwithcream Wed 04-Sep-13 19:58:27

Indeed CJ. 2006 in Bournemouth.

All that was needed was a West Wing conference to follow and my faith in the world would be utterly restored.

My copy of Cricket Term is also in a delicate state but it is possibly the most read.

CJCregg Wed 04-Sep-13 20:10:56

grin at decaff

HumphreyCobbler Wed 04-Sep-13 20:12:27

My copies of CT and EoT are also in bits.

RavenAK - it is great to meet another Renault fan. She is not read much at all now, which is a real shame. I have just re-read The Persian Boy and sobbed at the end each time I hope it will be different

HumphreyCobbler Wed 04-Sep-13 20:15:39

I just bought Spring Term. You have all persuaded me.

MirandaWest Wed 04-Sep-13 20:19:58

Thank you decaff smile I have that book smile and I know where it is so I will re read it smile

CJCregg Wed 04-Sep-13 21:34:43

My Cricket Term is also falling apart - cheap old Penguin paperback hmm

I have just bought both Celebrating Antonia Forest and The Marlows and Their Maker from Amazon. Huge expense, but I'm worth it grin

I need to step away from this thread, I think.

MooncupGoddess Wed 04-Sep-13 23:07:59

The Mask of Apollo is brilliant - and with a subtlety and complexity of characterisation that is not dissimilar to AF's.

I've just had a trawl through the internet fanfic - of varying quality, of course, and lots of Marlows meet Chalet School or whatever that is mildly traumatic for a purist like me, but I rather liked this one about Lois Sanger coming to Kingscote, which includes the classic scene in which Jan Scott demonstrates her Lack of Community Spirit.

mrsshackleton Thu 05-Sep-13 09:56:14

Ha ha, my original CT is also in bits and kept in a box - either it's the most read or the most shoddily produced. But I did buy a precious replacement reasonably cheaply a couple of years ago on Amazon.

Where can we read the Run Away Home outtakes? And what about the AF conference??? Shall we set one up? (Most un-AFlike grin)

MooncupGoddess Thu 05-Sep-13 10:15:05

The Run Away Home outtakes are in Celebrating Antonia Forest, which is basically the conference proceedings (but significantly more fun than most conference proceedings!).

I can entirely see why AF cut the outtakes - they're rather rambling with too much unnecessary detail - but there are some lovely characteristic turns of phrase and it's fascinating to get a sense of how she worked.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 05-Sep-13 10:22:27

Probably Lawrie without the acting skill...

But Nicola has some very good thoughts sometimes which often come back to me - like 'she suddenly came to the rather shattering realisation that all her best friends seemed to go off with someone else'.

I would love to be best friends with Miranda - she's excellent: witty, fiercely loyal, sensible and generous.

I do struggle with the way they're all such massive old-school Tories, though. Like Nick agreeing 'for once' with Mrs Bertie that hanging's too good for the louts who smashed the railway or whatever, and bemoaning the passing of the death penalty!

HumphreyCobbler Thu 05-Sep-13 12:25:12

AF was a Tory. I often wonder how this goes down with mumsnet in general grin She mentions it in one of her letters.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 05-Sep-13 12:48:08

I overlook it as an endearing but dated character foible of hers grin

But no surprise really - even aside from the boarding schools and the blood sports, we have, off the top of my head:

annoying Edwin who will not take the children to church reads The Guardian!
Patrick's father who's very obviously not an MP for anything but the Tories!
Nick's hankering for the death penalty
Annoying Ann who thinks there shouldn't be wars and that you should forgive criminals, which Good Giles and Nick disagree with
General suspicion of the arts and the artistic ('father's not at all artistic. Father paints')
And most of Miss Keith's very worst excesses are a tiny bit socialist in nature: 'Me Auntie doesn't want to encourage a few show-offs - a great corporate effort from the school is what she likes'.

HumphreyCobbler Thu 05-Sep-13 13:54:18

Yes. One can only imagine Mr Marlow's contempt for the nanny state grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 05-Sep-13 15:09:40

Oh and terrible Maudie in Falconer's Lure is a leftie, too, I think?

Does Geoff ever have opinions on anything, much?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 05-Sep-13 15:10:35

Oh - and I always find it a bit unpalatable when Karen says of the Brontes: 'they had a sort of Mrs Bertie called Tabby - and Nancy, their Doris'

Louise1956 Thu 05-Sep-13 19:50:25

I quite liked the books, but there were things about them I didn't care for. the change of period was confusing, the early books were very late 40s/50s in atmosphere, then suddenly we were in the 60s and 70s, which was odd. That doesn't matter with a series where the characters are in their own little world and never age - like Jennings or William for instance, but with a 'realistic' series like the Marlows it was weird. And I was somewhat dismayed by Karen marrying a middle aged widower, and I was sorry for Rowan being stuck managing the farm when it wasn't what she really wanted to do. And that girl at the school who was both unpleasant and pathetic - she was a disturbing character, and killing her off was just too depressing. I liked Ginty the best - she was rather less priggish than the rest of the family.

teabagpleb Thu 05-Sep-13 20:53:44

I don't think Marlow-type rural upper-middle-classes have changed that much, so the portrayal of them being dropped into different decades as it were worked well for me. Certainly my boarding school in 1985 could have been Kingcote, what with remembering that when out on a school trip, even without uniform, one must Not be Seen Eating in the Street etc.

As for Chalet School/Kingscote fic - in EBD's story The Rescue of Woolly Bear, the schoolgirls helped by the ubiquitous Joey Bettany and friends are from a school called Kingscote. Written in 1947/8 so possibly was aware of Autumn Term?

MrsOakenshield Thu 05-Sep-13 22:08:28

Louise - I quite like the fact that she set the books in the year she happened to be writing them, though it took a while to understand why Tim was talking about the Eurovision Song Contest in Attic Term, given that Autumn term is only just post-War!

Flozle Thu 05-Sep-13 22:44:21

Teabag - came across Spring Term yesterday and thought I might read it again; may have to leave it a while til i forget about the excessive italicisation.

I love AF: didn't read her till I was an adult but her characters are so flawed and so real. Jan Scot and Miranda are my faves...

CJCregg Sat 07-Sep-13 14:02:14

Celebrating Antonia Forest and The Marlows and Their Maker arrived yesterday. The Player's Boy - from Abe Books - came today.

I am in AF Heaven grin

Unfortunately I have four kids to deal with and won't really be able to touch my gorgeous new books till they go back to school on Monday hmm

LifeHuh Sat 07-Sep-13 15:44:09

CJ,deferred gratification - very character forming! grin

The change in period never really bothered me,perhaps because I read the books originally over a long period - though there was the incongruity of mentally holding the very 70s Changegear stuff in Attic term with the earlier comments in the series about the effect of the war/blitz on Ginty - I was reading Attic Term in the 70s and my parents lived in London during the blitz - it was a little unnerving having the two melded together...

The thing about Marie Dobson,and Lois as well I think is that though it is difficult to read about them the subtlety of both is representative of how real people are.It is what makes the writing ring true.But it is in contrast with a lot of "childrens" fiction and particularly school stories.

This thread has inspired me,I am going to have an AF re-read,starting now with Spring Term.(And tea.And very possibly chocolate,it has been a long week...)

Brillig Sat 07-Sep-13 17:46:56

Good to see this thread. AF had completely passed me by until I picked up a copy of The Attic Term for 10p at a village booksale, enjoyed it, and merrily thought 'I'll just get all the rest and read the whole series!'....then I started looking on Amazon, Ebay and Abe Books and swiftly realised my error.

Well, a couple of years and lots of £££ later, I finally had the whole set. Then a friend told me someone she knew had just sold her childhood copies on ebay for practically pennies.


Since then I've stumbled across a few duplicates, though sadly not of the really hard-to-find ones. But if anyone wants a Faber reprint of Autumn Term, they're welcome to have it for postage.

ParkerTheThief Sat 07-Sep-13 19:17:09

I have a new colleague who I think is a bit of a Marie Dobson, or awt least what an adult Marie would have been.
My boss is definatly a Lois.

realises I am now going to start matching everyone I know to an AF character

HumphreyCobbler Wed 11-Sep-13 20:41:55

Had to pop back to this and say Spring Term arrived today. I read it and thought it was surprisingly good, MUCH better than I would have thought. Kept my interest and although was a little clumsy in comparison I thought there was some interesting ideas here.

I am glad they did a play. There were some good moments of drama too.

Felt sorry for Ginty though.

MrsFrederickWentworth Wed 11-Sep-13 23:20:29

I think the characters are believable, they have their individual inner workings. Yes I like Nichola best, prob because she has both a sense of discretion and a sense of fair play. But Tim and Miranda are so much more interesting, as is even the awful Lawrie. And so is awful French Grandmere.

And I like Patrick whom I find attractive but mainly because I find screwed up Catholics attractive. I love the letter that kicks him out. She always gets the tone right.

Of course they are right wing. Commander Marlow is a naval officer. And they live in a big house in the country on the dregs of family money, with feelings of guilt about selling the Last Ditch.

Nothing, nada, has changed in boarding school life or shabby uncentral heated life to that sort of family for yonks. By which I mean since about 1930. Only the nouveau riche have warmth and wealth and might have voted for Blair.

MrsFrederickWentworth Wed 11-Sep-13 23:21:03

And I'm most like Karen whom I despise.

ParkerTheThief Thu 12-Sep-13 15:43:22

MrsFW the letter is sheer genius, especially Patrick's asides.

I too find Patrick attractive for the same reasons as you. Mind you, I also like Peter because he does have fears and flaws- Giles is too perfect for me.

MrsFrederickWentworth Sun 15-Sep-13 15:04:38

Parker, I so agree..I love the way they have been put in a place the school knows the family cannot compromise so clever.

Yes, I enjoy Patrick's intelligent uncertainties a lot.

Yes, Giles is like Nicky, too intimidating. The
Establishment, full of certainty and usually right...

I also like the way Patrick's mother clearly finds her male family's obsession about pre Vatican 2 a bit boring and how she clearly doesn't much like bring the wife of an MP.

I always want to see the dress that is made over for Ginty.

ParkerTheThief Sun 15-Sep-13 17:51:53

I'd love to see Doris's dresses.
I have to admit the ones she made for the twins don't sound terribly attractive.
I'd also like to see Miranda's coughing bear dress.

Teapigging Sun 22-Sep-13 13:05:15

There was a very long and interesting discussion on the AF livejournal community 'trennels' a while back about how people imagined Doris's various dresses, especially Nicolas's stripy one. Which always sounds horrid to me. Trying to think exactly when Run Away Home is set, as I realise I have very little sense of what a conventional party frock for a teenage girl of that era would have looked like. And even though we get a more detailed desc of Miranda's 'disaster', cream silk falling in fine pleats from a high yoke always sounds to me like a rather grand nightie!

I thoroughly recommend the 'trennels' community to anyone. Generally has a very high level of discussion, and occasional blow-ups, like one memorable one about whether Mrs Marlow was unfair to buy herself and Ginty horses when the rest of the family didn't have any...

My favourite AF character is her Will Shakespeare, who is I think charismatic, interesting, morally honest, complicated etc etc. Or Janice Scott, who is also a mysterious, attractive character. My least favourite is prob Giles, who is for me a bit cocksure and smug. It prob doesn't help that we see him through Nicola's eyes, and she thinks he can do no wrong...

Teapigging Sun 22-Sep-13 13:06:10

That would be NICOLA'S stripy dress, not Nicholas's.

HumphreyCobbler Sun 22-Sep-13 13:08:04

I have always thought it a trifle unfair that Ginty got a horse and no one else did.

ParkerTheThief Sun 22-Sep-13 13:56:02

The whole Catkin thing always struck me as being very unfair.
Nicola and Peter had to use their savings to pay fot The Idiot Boy whereas Ginty was given Catkin.

ancientbuchanan Sun 22-Sep-13 15:47:41

1950s young girl /deb dresses, new look in flowery chintzes if summer, plain satin if v posh do, or Marino wool with peter pan collars, I think, n winter.
Bolero to fight off draughts. Olders wore off the collar bone and shivered.

1967 summer, ice cream colour stripes in hard satiny stuffs, less of a skirt but still waisted. Rather Italian.
Stripes horizontal not vertical to emphasise waist. Might begin to have a small Orange stripe. Can't recall winter,

1970 summer, in rebellion, orange and black mini shift in sheer silk. Stripes vertical or horizontal. Tights not stockings. ? Gloves and hat. The decline begins.

For the Bohemian, kaftans and m+s nighties worn as evening attire. Beginning of Laura Ashley.

All up in dressing up box in loft unless DM has thrown away.

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