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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....

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.

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