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Antonia Forest fans: your favourite parts or lines?

(114 Posts)
TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 21-Jan-13 09:54:36

Inspired by posting near MirandaWest....

I often think of Nick's pondering in End of Term that 'it was queer and difficult being friends with someone who disliked one so much; at least, she supposed they were friends, and she supposed it was dislike, though neither seemed quite the right word.'

And for some reason, the description of Edwin Dodd in The Ready Made Family as 'an old, old man with three tiny, tiny tots'.


Tanith Tue 29-Jan-13 22:38:54

So many times, I read a description in AF's books and knew exactly what she meant.
I knew just how Lois felt in the Guide hut when the light diminished down to the single piece of paper on the table; I knew how Nick felt, sitting in the stable after the hunt, too tired to even move, yet I've never ridden a horse in my life. That whole hunting chapter is genius, as is the chapter describing the Nativity in the Cathedral.

They are so well written, and so demanding. AF really does deserve to be better known than she is.
I loved the Elizabethan books, too.

I understand the reason for the long gap between books is because she would rewrite them again and again. It really does show.

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 23:39:51

Dd read them all when she was about 11- and the number of times we've used bits to discuss various teenage angsts! And she's re reading them at 17 because she's doing philosophy of religion, and all the catholic stuff is making sense to her now.

Tanith Tue 29-Jan-13 23:44:15

Oh, and I love tracking down all the obscure book references, too. It's like a potted guide to English Literature.

womblingalong Wed 30-Jan-13 00:30:02

IKWYM MrsFox about being tantalised by the stories you haven't read.

The prices for some of the books are steep even on e bay, but some are reasonable.

MooncupGoddess Wed 30-Jan-13 01:17:42

I spotted this thread this morning and have been longing to contribute to it all day!

I always think of Kingscote when singing See Amid the Winter's Snow ('Lo, the tender lamb appears/Promised from eternal years'). Or when I read The Lykewake Dirge and imagine Nicola and Patrick reciting it as they ride home in the dark.

Antonia Forest is amazing at depicting emotional and aesthetic development - like when Nick doesn't get Persuasion at the beginning of The Ready-Made Family, but starts to understand it by the end. Esther is terribly believable with her nerves and tendency to flunk things... as is ruthless Tim. I always remember the bit when Ginty makes a would-be funny comment about Karen now being 'just a missus' and realises she has misjudged the tone, and will wake up in the middle of the night kicking the sheets in shame for years afterwards. And when Ginty gets irrationally terrified that Monica has died after her accident, so makes Nicola ring up Monica's parents instead (hence the Conduct Mark).

As a Sayers obsessive I also love it when Nicola and Edwin bond over Lord Peter v. the Brotherhood, and both simultaneously realise the other one maybe isn't so bad after all.

deleted203 Wed 30-Jan-13 01:48:58

I, too, have found myself saying dryly for years, 'My grief would be controllable'. It's such a fantastic, Rowan thing to say.

I loved all the bits where Edwin was sending snippets of the old farm logs to Nick - loved the history of it and the tantalising glipses of Elizabethan life. Also loved the descriptions of the Nativity in the Cathedral and the various plays.

Tanith Wed 30-Jan-13 07:06:21

Did anyone else notice that the paragraph opening the Cathedral nativity is almost identical to the one closing it? I didn't for years blush
It's a bit like that Coleridge poem she describes when Tim and Miranda are composing their carol ("here we sing", "now we have sung").

notcitrus Wed 30-Jan-13 13:50:36

I loved the bit where they wonder who wrote the Nativity Play and AF mentions that the girl had moved to Canada, would be.very surprised to hear her play was still being performed, 'and to tell the truth, not more than momentarily interested'. Much more realistic than the prospect of turning into simpering alumnae.

And Lawrie's shock that there are more than a few freaks like Ann who actually still believe in God etc - I had a similar surprise around her age. I tend to sympathise with Lawrie, surrounded by all these super-competent females, and loved AF's intro to Traitor when it's explained 'Nicola must go visiting' so Lawrie can actually do stuff for the plot.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 30-Jan-13 13:54:41

I think you mean Thuggery? All Lawrie does in traitor is get knocked over by a bus (which really upset me the first time I read it - the edition I had was illustrated and the picture of poor run over Lawrie looked very sad).

Lawrie is very good in the Thuggery Affair. She's nicer and more likeable and just.....BETTER....when she is away from all the girls who baby her and pander to her, and instead left to the tender mercies of Peter and Patrick who most decidedly do not. The Sophia Lawrence episode is especially entertaining. Although god knows what film she and Red Ted were seeing.

notcitrus Wed 30-Jan-13 14:42:37

You're right, it must be Thuggery - only one without Nicola. I think GGP used the same intro for all the books?

Spero Wed 30-Jan-13 14:46:47

sowornout - I thought I was the only one!

how many woman are out there right now using MY phrase? An awful lot, judging from this thread, I had no idea there were so many fans.

I had the whole set of books as a child, lost them all in a house move, PLUS a letter from AF herself thanking me and my friend for sending her a carved elephant in a bean - I think Patrick gave Ginty one?

I have just got Autumn Term off Amazon but all the others seem too difficult to get. It is so sad. Those books are the only things I regret losing from my childhood. I would love to re read them all now.

deleted203 Wed 30-Jan-13 15:55:41

Ah! Sadly 'Autumn Term' is the only one I have a spare copy of, spero!. Would anyone like it? If you pm me with your address I'll post it to you. (First come, first served folks).

(Don't suppose anyone's got a spare copy of 'The Thuggery Affair', have they? It's the only one I've never read).

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 30-Jan-13 17:29:14

I never noticed that about the cathedral service! Is that the chapter that ends with something about the ultimate solitude of god? Deep stuff!

I also like it in that chapter where they can see that if you were very young, you might really think Miranda was a real angel, come to reenact the story again. Oh and Dr Herrick telling Nicola to sing 'once' with regret. I always think of that when I hear that carol.

seeker Wed 30-Jan-13 17:48:21

My ds sang Once In Royal David's City" the Christmas before last- and I tried the "with regret" thing on him- I think he thought I was touched.

Remember when Laurie refused to believe that Jesus was a Jew?

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Esther, too. Very difficult to be like her among all those hearty types. Maybe Patrick and Esther could get together in the future......

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 30-Jan-13 17:57:27

I always regret it when I'm singing OIRDC because it is such a dirge and it has about 32 verses. Still - better than While Shepherds watched I suppose. Whereas I adore See amid. Clearly I would not have fitted in well at Kingscote.

Esther was very very good at netball and cricket, remember - so she did have something in common with the rest of them.

DeWe Thu 31-Jan-13 09:58:01

While Shepherds watched is much better if you sing it either to the tune of O for 1000 tongues to sing, or the original tune, which most people know better as "Ilkley Moor Bar Tat".

I liked Esther too, lots of sympathy for her.

seeker Thu 31-Jan-13 11:16:12

Any of you- particularly the musicos, read Cathedral Wednesday by William Mayne? I know he's been airbrushed out of children's literature, but it really is a lovely book.

MooncupGoddess Thu 31-Jan-13 12:07:02

Yes, I loved William Mayne's chorister books, especially A Swarm in May. They have a proper realistic oddness to them, if that makes sense. But hard to reread knowing what Mayne was...

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 31-Jan-13 17:10:24

Seeker - no I haven't but I will attempt to obtain a copy now! Thanks. smile

seeker Thu 31-Jan-13 17:11:50

I got dd a second hand copy on Abe just before Christmas for a couple of quid. Do read it and tell me what you think. I love it.

MirandaWest Thu 31-Jan-13 18:17:52

I have read other William Mayne books - he wrote one called No More School which I love.
Will look out for some others.

hels71 Sun 03-Feb-13 18:37:07

I tried to convince the soloist in my school choir about singing Once In Royal with regret...she looked at me as though I was mad......
I love AF books...but did not discover them until I was an adult.
That bit about the ultimate solitude of God alwayssends a gentle shiver down my spine..
(oh and the children in my school do sing While shepherds to the tune of Ilkley Moor!)

deleted203 Sun 03-Feb-13 20:24:36

Going back to TheOriginals thoughts on Mrs Marlow, I have often wondered what she did all day. Anyone got any suggestions? As far as I can see:-

Father is away all the time, all DCs at boarding school. Mrs Bertie does the cooking, (and Doris does 'the rough'), Rowan runs the bloody farm. What does Mrs M do?

I imagine she is bored stupid. Can't see her drifting about flower arranging. She doesn't appear to ever actually ride - apart from appearing in a sidesaddle habit to hunt on one occasion (good going, Mrs M! Didn't feel the need to do any gentle hacking first or get oneself back in practice - just get on a horse for the first time in years and go out hunting). Patrick's mother is away in London most of the time - and they never strike you as 'bosom buddies' anyway, so no one around Trennels to 'lunch' with'. She doesn't appear to have any friends, any interests, any hobbies. Do we think she chain smokes and drinks gin all day? (Staring out of the window and thinking about her ravaged womb). The woman seems to have given birth to 8 children in fairly rapid succession and then done bugger all for the rest of her days. She shows no interest in the farm, the accounts, her children, the house, her husband or anything else, frankly.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 14-Feb-13 17:15:42

And yet appears continually stressed and at the end of her last tether! You're right.

Ok, books in Marlow world I haven't read: The Greengage Summer, the Aeneid, Brat Ferrar (nevererdovit), the prince and the Pauper, any Wimsey, Hornblower, Persuasion. blush

Have read: Faerie Queen, The Princess and the Goblin, Little Princess, The Tempest (which I was teaching last semester and made them close read 'I'd've people else this isle with Calibans', laughing inwardly; Macbeth, all Brontes and Gaskell's 'Life'.

deleted203 Thu 14-Feb-13 22:32:45

Brat Farrar's a crime novel by Josephine Tey. I've read it. Brat Farrar poses as Patrick Ashby, the heir to an estate who had disappeared many years earlier. He is identical to the current heir (Patrick's twin, Simon) and is persuaded by a 'friend' of the family to pretend to be the heir, whilst this friend coaches him in the details he needs. They will share the money. Quite readable, if still in print.

I've also read 'The Greengage Summer' which is Rumer Godden, and 'The Prince and the Pauper', Hornblower, Persuasion and I think I've read a Wimsey nook.

Haven't read, The Faerie Queen, the Aeneid, The Princess and the Goblin (don't think), Little Princess. But I've read all yer others!

I can't remember which books it was that Nicola took back that were on the 'banned' list but I do remember being struck with horror that anyone would have such a list! I read 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' at about 15 (to my Grandmother's horror) and was struck by the fact that my own Ma (English teacher) took the view that people should be allowed to read anything they wanted and make their own mind up. (Jolly liberal of her...and I was mostly bored by Lady C, TBH). I was pretty stunned by the mildness of the books that Kingscote considered 'unsuitable' - couldn't imagine why anyone would ban them. (I'd have let Lawrie stamp about 'peopling this isle with Calibans' clearly grin).

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