Antonia Forest Fans ...(47 Posts)
Calling all Antonia Forest Fans.
Why do you love AF books? And what/who is your favourite books/scene/character?
I think for me it is the fact the characters are quite self aware or their weaknesses are so well written by AF that I can identify with so many of their failings and feelings.
I've just reread The Marlows and the Traitor and Peter's shame at the boat thing resonates with me. The fact that he can barely bring himself to think about it but he can't out it out of his mind.
My favourite character changes all the time - I have a soft spot for Rowan - I would have loved to see what happened to her when Giles returned to claim Trennels in later years.
I find it hard to pick a favourite, but Peter's Room, Falconer's Lure, The Attic Term and the Cricket Term are all contenders.
I love the scene in The Attic Term where, after Ginty is caught phoning Patrick, Nicola describes her interview with Miss Keith. The scenes in Peter's Room surrounding the Merricks' Ball are really atmospheric, too. I was riveted by the Court of Honour when I first read Autumn Term aged about 10.
My favourite character is probably Jan Scott. Of the Marlows, I always had a soft spot for Ann, although I didn't like her refusal to lend Nicola her bike when she wanted to go to Mass with Patrick.
I think Lieutenant Foley in Traitor is a great character.
I hope Rowan got to go back to London once someone else could take over Trennels. I hope she didn't end up living with Nicola as 'two terrible tweedy types known far and wide as The Queer Miss Marlows'.
I hope this doesn't sound pretentious but I think the reason I love AF's books so much is her brilliant use of language; coupled with her completely authentic characterisation.
... though having said that about Ann, it was quite brave of her to hold fast to her principles in the face of opposition from Giles and Rowan.
Lewis Foley is great - I love the fact that unlike in so many children's books he isn't an out and out black hearted baddie. Instead he is a complex character who went over to the dark side.
I love the scene in End of Term when they are going to The Minster and is starts to snow. In fact, I love the whole part of the story when Esther goes AWOL and the staff have to commandeer Miranda and swap Nicola and Lawrie.
I'm also fascinated by Lawrie's misunderstandings re religion and I love her own complex moral code where she makes deals If I let Nicola have the netball I'll have the shepherd boy
I think Ann is brave.
Years ago I read a really interesting article which described Ann and said that in any other children's book set in a boarding school she'd be the heroine - kind, moral, religious, helpful, conscientious etc yet in AF she isn't.
In FL I'm always struck by the scene where she joins in with the gentle teasing of Mrs Marlow on the beach as it seems almost out of character for her.
Yes - I think I have read the same, or a similar article now you mention it. It said how well Ann would fit in at the Chalet School IIRC.
That FL scene is the only time Ann ever teases anyone, I think! Then at the end of FL, everyone sneers at her for calling the fire brigade when Trennels catches fire. Girl calls fire brigade when house is on fire - such bizarre behaviour!
The description of the play in End of Term really is magical, with Nicola's singing thrilling Patrick.
Of course, we see Laurie's bargaining with 'Them Up There' in action again when she gives up Ariel in hopes of getting Caliban - instead she gets the Prosser, but she's wholly unaware there's any reason to be grateful for this.
Poor Ann - the more I think about her the more sympathetic I am.
There is a scene I love in Run Away Home where Giles makes omelettes for everyone and their choices encapsulate their personalities - if I remember rightly Ann asks for sweet but then says plain will do just as well. Peter has rum but doesn't like it so Nicola finishes it and I think it ends with Ann washing up for everyone.
- and she later offers to make scrambled eggs for Laurie, who'd declined to be part of Giles's omelette-making. Poor Ann.
Although I still can't like her - thinking about it I have an Ann-like colleague.
She does and says all the right things but she irritates me and then I feel a little like Nicola who realises that she treats Ann differently to Rowan and occasionally tries to redress the balance -like in Attic Term when she takes all of Ann's stuff to her room and then is miffed when a pre-occupied Ann doesn't thank her even though the pre-emptive thought Ann's thanks annoy her in advance.
End of Term is my favourite and Miranda is often my favourite character, but not always. I love the fact that all the characters look and behave differently at different times and places, the way real people do. Sometimes Miranda is a scary snob, sometimes she is fun, always interesting.
I REALLY like the character of Lois Sanger, I think she is one of the most intriguing characters in
all children's fiction. Her surface is absolutely fine and tbh she is as good as most people but Forest skewers her as shallow and rotten. It is easy to imagine most of the girls as grown-ups, they have the seeds of adulthood in them, whereas e.g. in the Chalet school all the girls remain completely girl-like even when married, teaching or the mother of 11
I would love to see Miranda meeting Patrick.
I know what you mean about the characters showing traits of their future selves.
Falconer's Lure is probably my favourite book, although I love them all. My favourite scene is the play in End of Term. i think it is just magical. I really like Nicola and also Miranda as characters, Lawrie does my head in! I think I like them because although they are clearly about a well off family, they also seem very real....and her writing is just so clever I think. It makes me very uncomfortable at times..
Cricket Term was the second book I read. I was hugely impressed (having come straight from Enid Blyton) when AF glancingly acknowledged the existence of periods when Ginty was chosen for the diving team.
I read them all out of order so it was a bit of a jigsaw putting all the bits together. .
Cricket Term was the last book I got my hands on and I was so pleased to be able to fill in all the missing bits.
I love the bit in CT when Nicola realises she can't bowl out Val - and also the aftermath when Lois can't join in the chat and conversation and AF gives us a tiny glimpse into the future when the other girls' reminisce about her.
Reading CT straight after AT was very confusing at first with the dual timeline. The effect was heightened by the appearance of the Infant Dodds, when Karen had last been seen (from my POV) heading for Oxford.
I love the history ones best. The Players Boy and The players and the rebels. Nick is a wonderful character and her Shakespeare is lovely-if very similar to the one in Geoffrey Trease's Cue for Treason.
Ann's an interesting character. Probably the one closest to me in a lot of ways, so I always found her sympathetic. She's more inclined to run to adults than I was, but I was very much a keep out of trouble child. She's got a group of friends, who seem to like and respect her so we can assume isn't anything like as irritating to others as Nicola finds her. Her character development was the one thing I disliked in "Spring Term"-the non AF add on.
There is a correlation to I think it's Catherine in the Malory Towers. Again someone who tries to help, one assumes because she wants to help and be liked for it, and is portrayed as it being a problem.
I think the characters who are complex-none of the nasty characters are truly unsympathetic, makes the stories. Why do none of them like Marie? Other than the point she lies to get out of trouble over the Guide incident, and that she dries on stage, we don't know what it is that makes her dislikeable. But, very true to life, she's a child who's always on the outside and desperate to be included. So we can feel sorry for her in that way.
Just about to finish my regular re read, just done run away home, the final real af book and now to start on spring term. Which is written by someone else in the same style.
I’m fascinated by the Marie situation.
I think as a teenager reading them I always had a hidden fear that I would have been the Marie of the class rather than the Miranda or Nicola.
Upon reflection I think I may have been more Esther without the beauty.
I do think Marie is treated very badly in End of Term. As Nicola observes, she's done nothing worse than Lois Sanger, yet, other than Nicola and Miranda, everyone seems to like Lois.
It's mentioned in Autumn Term that Marie, as form prefect, had 'bossed the second' the previous year and that they were tired of it, but I can't see any real reason for her being so loathed. However, she is 'grubby' and eager-to-please, which is probably enough to damn her. The main reason for her unpopularity, I think, is that others simply take their lead from Laurie, Nicola, Tim and Miranda.
I think Marie is just one of those over anxious, lumpen people (like me) who aren't good socially. She can become over officious at times but I think the key difference between Marie and Lois is she doesn't have the ability to charm.
I love Forest even though there are such excruciating scenes of embarrassment - it took me 20 years to re-read the Guide Court of Honour scene. My favourites would be Attic and Cricket Term, Peters Room and the Thuggery Affair. Jukie strikes me as very like Patrick only from a poor background.
AF is a genius. I know she only ended up writing children's books by accident -- having decided it would be easier to be published as a children's author, and she could switch to adult books once she'd a foot in the door -- but even though I read them far too young to fully appreciate them, I still think their moral and cultural sophistication, and the acuity of their characterisation more than stands up to most decent writing for adults. Apart from anything else, I owe so many bits of knowledge to her -- the poetry that
insufferable gold-eyed Patrick recites on the ride back from Wade Minster, the rules of cricket (I'm not from the UK), the plays of Shakespeare, the Brontes' imaginary worlds, hunting, falconry, the navy, Anglicanism, pre-Vatican II English Catholicism etc etc.
I don't think I can choose a favourite (other than not The Thuggery Affair) but I love set pieces like Nicolas playing Juliet and Viola, Patrick and Nicola riding over to Wade Minster at half-term, Patrick weeping at the classical concert and discussing cheating at exams with his mother and Claudie afterwards, the various school plays, Nicola and Lawrie at that local talent festival, Miranda's Dress, the diving competition at the regatta, Nicola cutting her hand on the four-leaved clover in its locket, and the various Christmases.
I know lots of people dislike it but I have a sneaking fondness for The Thuggery Affair. Mainly because I do love the story line - also it resolved the how on earth is Regina back that confounded me when I read The Attic Term.
I need to reread The Thursday Kidnapping as I haven't included that in my annual reread for a few years.
I really like the invented language in Thuggery. It's actually really clever when you look at it. It reminds me of A Clockwork Orange.
I was given Autumn Term when I was about twelve, and have been happily re-reading the books for over sixty years.
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