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AIBU?

Has anyone ever read Malory towers?

558 replies

Orangejelly1 · 02/10/2022 00:04

I used to love the books as a child! I read them cover to cover so many times and my favourite character was Darrell. I recently found my old collection and re read parts of them just for old times sake and I was actually really disappointed to see, as an adult, how awful some of the popular characters were. I know it was a product of its time and a different era, but Darrell, Alicia and some of the most popular girls would be called nasty bullies nowadays. I also felt so sorry for Gwen, which surprised me because as a child rearing the books she was my least favourite character.

just wondered if anyone else re read the books and thought this too!

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KatherineofGaunt · 02/10/2022 00:58

TakemedowntoPotatoCity · 02/10/2022 00:33

Was Gwendoline the one with the 'drawl' who went to Finishing School?

It's been nearly 40 years since I read them so my memory is very off I'm sure.

Gwendoline was supposed to go to a finishing school but her father got ill in the last book and she had to go home to get a job.

If you want similar books but more modern and got grown ups, then Jenny Colgan has written/is writing a school series. It's set in a similar boarding school but from the POV of one of the teachers. I've only read the first one or two, some very similar story lines (Jo and Dierdre running away, anyone?) but readable!

I read all the new MT books by different author - about Felicity and June's time after Darrell et al leave. Nowhere near as good as the originals!

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unvillage · 02/10/2022 00:58

The last book was on the bookshelf in my holiday let this summer - I read it and was a bit disappointed, it was almost entirely about Alicia's horrible cousin and Darrell's sister, not the previous main characters!

The BBC show is really lovely, encapsulates the early books as I remember them while also being a bit more modern - the sea pool is as amazing as I always imagined it.

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groovergirl · 02/10/2022 01:01

I look back in horror.

At primary school in the '70s my friends and I adored these books and modelled our behaviour on that of the "popular" characters, hoping it would increase our popularity in real life. Darrell thought she was everyone's moral compass. Alicia was a sharp-tongued, bad-tempered bully who bossed the younger kids. None of us wanted to be Gwen, the lonely, homesick girl who'd been socially ostracised, or June, who refused to be dragged into line.

What it led to was our being mean to other kids. Kids who struggled with school work, kids who for medical reasons couldn't do some sports, new kids, kids with suspiciously neat hair and clothes, little kids who dared to talk back against our bossiness ... If we could have cut them down with a lacrosse stick, we would have.

I also remember a Famous Five book where Julian et al picked on a housekeeper's son because they considered him their social inferior -- and who had greasy hair and acne! The sin!

My DM told me at the time she thought Enid Blyton's books were a bad influence on me. She was right. My DD has no interest in reading them, and if she did, she'd be horrified at the mean-spirited, cruel and snooty attitudes.

From what I know of Blyton herself, she wasn't very nice to her own children.

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Lauraa7 · 02/10/2022 01:04

I’ve still got all my copies, which I was hoping my daughters would read, but they never took an interest! They were my favourite books when I was little

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Squidwitch · 02/10/2022 01:11

I was trying to explain to someone much younger how this constant stream of boarding school fiction created an absolute desire for boarding school to people of a certain generation, these books were so easily available at every jumble sale and car boot and charity, and even then they had a rose tinted olden times nostalgia, and I think this had a huge bearing on the way people who are in their forties now absolutely lapped up Harry Potter, boarding and magic was so deeply ingrained in our literary childhoods that an extension of the worst witch was like a soothing continuance. For me it's also why I started getting a bit meh about potter when it was less about the school

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GiveUsACoffee · 02/10/2022 01:12

I bloody well gobbled up Blyton books. As an inner city Asian girl, her writing revealed a caricature of British 'upper class' life that was so far removed from the grimy city I lived in. Fascinating stuff

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LouLou789 · 02/10/2022 01:27

But then there was Sally (Darrell’s BFF) who was actually quite nice. My favourite one (book 5?) was where they put on a show. I also loved Amanda, the almost-Olympic swimmer and Bill, the tomboy who was good with horses. The whole class thing was very warped, though. I did think it was sad that these girls were sent to school for months on end and the parents only figured occasionally, such as Darrell’s famous surgeon father performing a miracle operation.

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caringcarer · 02/10/2022 01:35

I read them all and loved them as a child. I desperately wanted to go to live at a boarding school.

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AsAnyFuleKno · 02/10/2022 01:38

LouLou789 · 02/10/2022 01:27

But then there was Sally (Darrell’s BFF) who was actually quite nice. My favourite one (book 5?) was where they put on a show. I also loved Amanda, the almost-Olympic swimmer and Bill, the tomboy who was good with horses. The whole class thing was very warped, though. I did think it was sad that these girls were sent to school for months on end and the parents only figured occasionally, such as Darrell’s famous surgeon father performing a miracle operation.

Yes, that's 'In the Fifth in Malory Towers' where Darrell writes a panto.

I have a stress-busting technique where I set myself random topics to think about, and oddly enough a couple of nights ago, I set myself the task of ordering the MT books from least favourite to favourite, and I put 'Fifth' last because I felt the plot was too dominated by the panto.

Also, that panto is ridiculously North Tower heavy. There are four towers - of the 8 speaking parts, four go to North Tower including the principal role; and of a committee of nine, seven are from North Tower. In reality, surely the other towers would have said something,

The order I determined (if anyone cares 😁) - least to most favourite:

Fifth
First (Darrell's wonderful surgeon father interlude is tedious)
Third (suffers from Sally's absence)
Last (main characters are a bit remote from the action)
Second (hard to fault)
Upper Fourth (Gwen's weak heart being such a classic makes it the winner)

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HaveringWavering · 02/10/2022 01:44

Squidwitch · 02/10/2022 01:11

I was trying to explain to someone much younger how this constant stream of boarding school fiction created an absolute desire for boarding school to people of a certain generation, these books were so easily available at every jumble sale and car boot and charity, and even then they had a rose tinted olden times nostalgia, and I think this had a huge bearing on the way people who are in their forties now absolutely lapped up Harry Potter, boarding and magic was so deeply ingrained in our literary childhoods that an extension of the worst witch was like a soothing continuance. For me it's also why I started getting a bit meh about potter when it was less about the school

I agree 100%. That was the hook for me. (I was in my late twenties when HP came out).

I always imagined that JKR must have grown up on Blyton boarding books. To me, as a state school child in 1980s Scotland, lacrosse was as weird and magical-sounding as Quidditch.

I read all the St Claire's books, don't really remember the I di

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StopStartStop · 02/10/2022 01:57

I read them but don't really remember. I was a Famous Five fan, really. Though even then, I knew that Julian's supercilious attitude was unacceptable. Looking at them online just now, I can hardly believe they were written only twenty years before I read them. They seemed so old-fashioned.

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ILoveAllRainbowsx · 02/10/2022 02:23

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okytdvhuoo · 02/10/2022 02:46

MrsMoastyToasty · 02/10/2022 00:31

Yes I did, although I preferred the Twins at St Claires.
FWIW - I were to a boarding school. No salt water pool, but midnight feasts usually involved vodka rather than ginger beer.

Tell us more!

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Helgadaley · 02/10/2022 03:13

As an adult, I can see the stereotypes and the utter snobbery but all that passed me by as a child. EB was a product of her time - rich and snobby - her daughter Gillian, I seem to remember, went to Benenden school, which at that time was probably full of children whose parents were just like her.
I always envied children who went to boarding schools, but tbh, I would never have been accepted, as a mixed race child from an inner city. So perhaps just as well we couldn't afford it.

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Galarunner · 02/10/2022 03:24

Trees6 · 02/10/2022 00:45

I can remember many of the illustrations. One was of Felicity playing tennis - “lamming the ball”

One thing I liked about Blyton is that she valued intelligence and achievement. Prettiness wasn’t something she revered. She liked brains, athleticism, musicality etc and these qualities were positive attributes in her books.

Her portrayal of foreigners and the working classes though …..

Yes they are very dated , but they basically created a world without men, where girls being strong and resourceful was celebrated. I loved them. I tried to read them to my daughter , she didn't like them at all and I wish I hadn't re read them, but the sea pool, Darrell, horse loving Bill, still have a place in my heart.

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Youngatheart00 · 02/10/2022 03:32

Yes, devoured MT, St Claire’s, and does anyone remember the Naughtiest Girl series too (also Enid Blyton from memory)?

I think it’s kind of wrong to project todays standards onto fiction that was written c80 years ago (blatant racism and bigotry aside). The books are of their era and would be extremely dull if all the characters and storylines were sanitised for todays norms.

I did think they did a pretty good job with the tv series though and I found that a extremely comforting watch during the first covid lockdown

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Rummikub · 02/10/2022 03:41

Loved Mallory Towers but preferred St Claire’s.
I remember Darrel and Bill. And like others really wanted to go to boarding school.
I tried to have a midnight feast but didn’t wake up 😂

Reading this thread Im temoted the re read them despite the faults.

Re Watching ferris bueller recently I’m totally on the parents side now!

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LostInTheColonies · 02/10/2022 03:43

Yes - I loved them. Bought the complete set with WHSmith birthday book tokens 😁. I also loved the Famous Five, and the ".. of Adventure" series (ancient ruins, smugglers on islands...), and the Five Find-Outers. Was desperate to go to boarding school, and / or camping / exploring / have adventures. So many of the kids seemed spirited, independent and adventurous... (apart from Gwen 🤣). All very hearty. The TV series is a bit weak in comparison - though DD loves it and won't touch the books.

I do wonder if these kinds of stories encourage kids to get outside and do things - rather than aspiring to be a reality TV star or a nail technician.

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AsTreesWalking · 02/10/2022 04:12

Fascinating to read all your reminiscing. I never read them. But I did enjoy The naughtiest girl in the school - it was a birthday present and I read it under the covers with a torch because my much older sisters disapproved of Blyton! I was particularly struck by the rule that all monies had to be declared, given to the teachers, and evenly shared out between the girls. It never felt fair to me that even birthday present money was included in this!

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funzeny · 02/10/2022 04:13

I loved Enid blyron fanous 5. But it's definitely outdated now. However I loved the girls. George who where tomboys , because that was me, and a lot of my friends, we loved doing 'boy stuff' . Since then that's become normal , then gone completely opposing having pink/blue gender reveals at that same time as trying to stop genders. It's all crazy. But as a kid reading that book it made so much sense to me

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Apollonia1 · 02/10/2022 04:20

I remember Gwen came from "an overheated home". As a child reading these in the 80s, a lovely warm overheated home sounded great!

I've all my old copies but bought new sets to read with my kids.

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Ozgirl75 · 02/10/2022 04:45

I also really liked the Trebizon books and there was another series where they did a play about the two princes (I think?) and I vaguely remember they were in like a girl guides group? Very hazy memories but I really liked them at the time!

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HuntingoftheSnark · 02/10/2022 05:26

God yes, devoured all Enid Blyton and haven't reread them but suspect it would be disappointing. The brown and orange uniform that Darrell so admired in the first book, though .... I couldn't see that working as a colour scheme. Very human in parts; I think she thinks Alicia and she will be best friends and then finds Alicia already has one (cannot recall her name). My favourite was Mary Lou because I hated spiders.

My favourite Blyton books were the Jack, Dinah, Lucy-Ann and Philip ones (and Kiki the parrot). Although the classist and racist views still held firm. Think they were the Adventure series. The Secret Seven never did it for me, too many characters diluted it I think.

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dizzydizzydizzy · 02/10/2022 05:28

I loved them and also read them many times. I preferred Dt Clare's though.

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MrsFionaCharming · 02/10/2022 05:33

I went and swam in the pool used for the BBC series last year. I wore a wetsuit and neoprene socks & gloves. It was flipping freezing! Definitely had a new found sympathy for Gwen, I wouldn’t have wanted to swim in it in just a swimsuit either!

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