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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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KillingMeDeftly · 02/10/2022 08:50

They're a lot nicer in the tv series than they are in the books, that's for sure! I think the Gwen actress is the standout.

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Iamchurchill · 02/10/2022 08:51

I read them as a kid but they don’t stand the test of time very well at all. I like Darryl because she was a bit dykey, and forgave the rest!
the tv version is much better…

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Dreamingcats · 02/10/2022 08:52

I loved them and have reread many times.

I still hate Gwen. She's so deceitful, lazy, spiteful -and manipulative very few redeeming features. In the musical version her Dad gets a backstory which makes her a lot more understandable.

I agree that, reading as an adult, some of the "nice" girls can be really brutal though. "Hark at Sheila! 'Didn't oughta!' She speaks like my maid back home! Hahaha!"

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KatherineofGaunt · 02/10/2022 08:53

FrodisCapering · 02/10/2022 07:39

@HuntingoftheSnark believe it or not, brown and orange was the colour scheme of my school! It was utterly vile.

My primary school had brown and gold! We had to wear a tie, too. I felt very Malory Towers!

Yes to MT the Musical! I saw it before Covid with my mum and it really was excellent!

I was a cross bergen MaryLou and Gwen, I think. Darrell, while I loved the name, wasn't as nice a person as she thought, even hanging out with Sally. She desperately wants some kind of talent and she feels justified handing out punishments to those she feels unworthy. Her temper was treated as a minor inconvenience, when actually anyone doing half the physical stuff in school she does would be having her parents called in! In the first book alone she slaps Gwen and pushed Sally over a chair. Apparently an apology is all it takes and Gwen should have gone to a teacher. But, I suppose, then Alicia et al would have been calling her a snitch and making her life more miserable. But what a way to have to live at school!

I read the Naughtiest Girl books, too. I only have 3 of them, although I think they're are more but I'm not sure which were written by EB and which by someone else. The whole idea of a student council is very interesting and I wonder if it would ever work in real life. The money, though - oh dear! Good idea in principle, but you'd be begging people not to send you more than your two shillings a week and give it to you at home in the holidays instead!

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britneyisfree · 02/10/2022 08:54

Yes. I read my mums old ones and have kept them for my DD 🥰

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Aprilx · 02/10/2022 08:56

I read them all 40 or so years ago. A couple of years ago, they made a new TV series which I watched and I bought them all again, but I haven’t read them so far, I have a feeling it will spoil it for me.

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KillingMeDeftly · 02/10/2022 08:58

Blyton didn't much like foreigners, did she? The American girls were always slightly thick and too into their looks, the French ones were sly and always trying to get out of PE and the one half-Spanish student was a fiery "gypsy".

I do wonder where she got the idea that French girls didn't like playing sport?

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ChagSameachDoreen · 02/10/2022 09:01

I devoured them as a young girl.

Characters like Bill and Clarissa, and a particular teacher answered the call of my latent lesbian heart!

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KimberleyClark · 02/10/2022 09:03

I do wonder where she got the idea that French girls didn't like playing sport?

Or that they were all brilliant at sewing and embroidery!

she probably thought they all went to convent schools.

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MissyB1 · 02/10/2022 09:06

I loved them when I was about 8 or 9, then I moved onto the Chalet School books. Chalet school were much more “grown up” books, and I still read them now. Blyton’s books have aged very badly.

However my 13 year old ds has really enjoyed the Mallory Towers series on iplayer!

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Arbesque · 02/10/2022 09:09

The emphasis on exclusive 'best friends' really struck me when re reading these as an adult.

It's a large theme in the first book- Darrell wants to be Alicia's best friend, Mary Lou wants to be Darrells best friend etc. In every book Gwen tries to make a best friend but usually loses her to someone else. Bill even says something once to Darrell along the lines that she'd like to be her friend but knows that she already has Sally as her friend.

The St Clares books focus more on the girls as one big group of friends.

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TheMoth · 02/10/2022 09:12

I loved them all back then. Didn't know how Alicia was meant to be pronounced though. Or what a form was ; one of the girls 'sank down into a form' in despair over something and I could not work out wtf it was.

My barbies had a lot of their names: carlotta, Bill, Sadie.

I remember crying, because my parents couldn't send me to boarding school.

Remember too, a girl described as 'strapping', which you don't really hear much anymore.

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TheMoth · 02/10/2022 09:13

High school was a bit of a shock. Especially not having real French women teach us French.

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Phos · 02/10/2022 09:15

I've read them and the St Claires ones. I re-read St Claires most recently and although rather out of date (obviously having been written in the 40s) I didn't note any nastiness in them.

I haven't re-read Malory Towers yet but I've watched the series on iplayer and again didn't notice any of the girls coming across as horrible bullies.

I enjoyed the circus ones. Even as a youngster I understood they were written in a different time. I think they would be even more obvious now that animal circuses are largely a thing of the past. Wonder if PC attitudes are making them hard to come by now though, would be a shame, I'd love to re-read those and the Willow Farm ones too which were even better.

As an aside, I found a first edition of a book called Tales of Toyland in a second hand bookshop last year. It will never be printed again. There are 3 golliwogs in it and their names, I'd get blasted if I wrote them but let's say they would be pretty unacceptable!

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AsAnyFuleKno · 02/10/2022 09:31

I think they would be even more obvious now that animal circuses are largely a thing of the past.

I have the early 1970s editions of those - the name of one of the dogs is unprintable. It amazes me that it was seen as acceptable by a children's publisher as late as the 1970s, it would have been so easy to edit out.

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Marigoldandivy · 02/10/2022 09:43

I loved them as a child, as I did all of Enid Blyton’s books. Our library would not stock them so I saved up my pocket money for them. I can still remember the smell of the dust jackets. They inspired me with a love for reading which has been a lifetime pleasure. Their attitudes and prejudices are way out of date, of course, but there is nothing like reading to increase empathy and explode prejudiced stereotypes.

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eddiemairswife · 02/10/2022 09:57

The first Enid Blyton I read was The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage, It must have been a birthday or Christmas present, and it was newly published, and I had newly learnt to read. After that I read as many of her books as I could until I was about 10 or 11, when I realised I becoming less addicted. At that time there were very few paper-backs for children (paper shortage) so the library was the main place to go for reading material.

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Eeksteek · 02/10/2022 10:16

HaveringWavering · 02/10/2022 01:44

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

My mother described HP as Enid Blyton with magic. I didn’t read that many of the school stories, though, I read the adventure stories. I’ve only just twigged that that’s what she must have meant, even though I did read some and wanted to go to boarding school! I was a much more famous five/Secret Seven/the Random Object of adventure (those were my favourite). Tried to get DD to read them, but they’re just too removed from modern life and she hates reading anyway.

They remind me of Agatha Christie, with the class perception. It’s most odd. Miss Marple is always going on about ‘the best people’ while sponging off a series of friends and relatives, being fawned over for being poor and ‘frugal’ (yet still somehow one of the ‘best’ people) and still employing a maid or a driver or whatever. It was very confusing to a precocious reader of skilled working class where class didn’t figure at all. I still find it hard to get my head round.

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KimberleyClark · 02/10/2022 10:22

The first Enid Blyton I read was The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage

Ah yes, insurance job wasn’t it!

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FlosCampi · 02/10/2022 10:29

I remember when reading aloud to my daughters trying to censor " her face sprinkled with ugly freckles" and the teachers expecting lies from a girl solely because she was French!

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FlosCampi · 02/10/2022 10:30

And doesn't someone have their appendix removed without anaesthetic in the sanatorium?

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AsAnyFuleKno · 02/10/2022 10:37

FlosCampi · 02/10/2022 10:30

And doesn't someone have their appendix removed without anaesthetic in the sanatorium?

Darrell's father does it, but the details of the operation aren't specified, only that it was very quick (cue tedious gushing about how marvellous Mr Rivers is). I doubt he did it without anaesthetic, though.

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FlosCampi · 02/10/2022 10:37

Ooh can I reccommend Bewitched by Kate Saunders? About a modern girl who gets off the train for her boarding school and finds herself in the 1930s, including a Malory Towers style school. It's much more interesting than not having her phone or GHDs, it questions a lot of modern cultural assumptions too, about how long childhood extends for instance, and of course there's the shadow of the war, sexuality, the treatment of a Jewish girl and so on. It's a really good story!

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AsAnyFuleKno · 02/10/2022 10:38

FlosCampi · 02/10/2022 10:37

Ooh can I reccommend Bewitched by Kate Saunders? About a modern girl who gets off the train for her boarding school and finds herself in the 1930s, including a Malory Towers style school. It's much more interesting than not having her phone or GHDs, it questions a lot of modern cultural assumptions too, about how long childhood extends for instance, and of course there's the shadow of the war, sexuality, the treatment of a Jewish girl and so on. It's a really good story!

That sounds really interesting - thank you for the recommendation.

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FlosCampi · 02/10/2022 10:39

Beswitched not Bewitched- stupid autocorrect.

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