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Trebizon books

4 replies

notaplasticgnome · 25/05/2015 13:58

I had never read the Trebizon books but picked up a copy last week in the Charity shop, after seeing a lot about hem on here.. It was a volume of the first 3 books.
I think I would probably have enjoyed them well enough as a child, but I don't really think they're vintage school stories. They don't have the fast pace and contrasting characters of Enid Blyton, the lovely sense of place and time of the earlier Chalet Schools, or the beautiful writing of Antonia Forest's Kingscote books.
I thought Rebecca was a bit bland to be the main protagonist, and I would also have preferred if Ann Digby had made her either creative and imaginative or very good at sport. Making her really good at both made her difficult to empathise with. I also thought there were too many long, dull descriptions included in the text.
Just wondering how other posters think these books stand the test of time?

OP posts:
balletnotlacrosse · 26/05/2015 13:59

I think they probably filled a gap in the market at the time they were published (late 70s). It was ten years since the last Chalet School book had been published and the majority of other boarding school stories available were at least 25 years old. There was definitely an opening for a more contemporary type school story, and I can see how girls at the time would have found them an interesting contrast to Malory Towers, Angela Brazil and the Chalet School.

I'm not sure how well they'll really stand the test of time. I presume they'll always have that nostalgia factor for adults who remember reading them as children/early teens. But I agree, the writing can drag a bit at times and Rebecca isn't a particularly strong or interesting character.

DeeWe · 27/05/2015 11:19

I enjoyed them at the time, and I still think they're good as an adult. I have them all, I think, including the 5th form friendship one which apparently is hard to find.

Dd1 enjoyed them much more than the Chalet School, what irritated her about them was the boy chatter. I also thought as a child that the school was remarkedly relaxed about their boarders going off. "Oh I've met this lad I knew a long time ago who's at a different school, I can go to a party with him, he'll bring me home" "Oh that's a lovely idea, don't be too late..." Hmm. I can't see any school, even in the 80s being that relaxed. I think for the boarders at our school it would have been a Hmm look and a "ha ha very funny, good try" response, and they weren't that rigid. Maybe I'm wrong on that. I don't think the tennis was that realistic either, she'd have had to be training a heck of a lot harder to get anywhere near what she was achieving.

I think what makes the Trebizon to me, is that they aren't just Rebecca wins lots of tennis and nasty girl is jealous stories. Each story is different. You have mysteries, boy trouble, hauntings, difficult decisions, friendship stealing etc. But the main group stick together, with (I think it's) Jocalyn on the outskirts of it, and see things through generally.
Rebecca isn't that interesting, but the whole group together are: I can't remember them off hand, but there's Tish (very bright and sporty, generally the leader), Sue (Musical), Mara (I think, very rich and supersticious-is she Greek or somethng?), Elfie (who thinks she's fat, but you always get the impression isn't) and another rather nondescript Mary or something?

I wouldn't pick them up as a comfort read like I would the other school stories, but I do think there is a place for them. Not sure they'll survive as long as the CS etc. but I don't think they're completely gone yet.

And I think it's notable that Ann Digby is one of the writers that was asked to continue either Mallory Towers or the St Claires. Although I think she repeats one of the stories from the Friendships book about twins in one of the ones she rewrites, which is a bit poor, as it wasn't that brilliant a plot in the first place and the rewrite is worse.

LaurieMarlow · 28/05/2015 19:18

They felt pretty modern to me when I read them in the 1980s/90s.

I enjoyed the fact that they were allowed to interact with boys and even (shock horror) have relationships with them. A far cry from the chalet school's coy 'only common Joan Baker types are into boys, until they hit 18 and are swiftly married off to the local Baron von um something or other'.

I also liked the range of social/cultural backgrounds of the girls. That was refreshing. And Rebecca appealed to me as a protagonist. More 'normal' and down to earth than EBD leads. Quiet, thoughtful, determined, making her way in the world - I found her very relatable.

But in answer to your question, they're very obviously not 'golden age of the school story' so i suspect they will get a bit lost in time. Which I think is a bit of a shame because I do believe they have merit.

They're not beautifully written like the Kingcote stories, but to be frank, Antonia Forrest is in a league of her own.

balletnotlacrosse · 29/05/2015 12:40

No, they're definitely not Golden Age but probably written as an alternative to the typical school story which would have been becoming very dated by the 1980s.

They seem to be definitely aimed at a Sweet Valley High type readership and generation, as opposed to a generation raised on The Chalet School and The Four Marys. I've only read a few of them but they seem to steer clear of midnight feasts, practical jokes, hockey matches etc and introduce surfing, beach parties and boyfriends which would have been unheard of in typical school stories.

Ann Digby is also careful to make it clear that Rebecca is not from an upper middle class background where boarding school was the norm, but is at Trebizon because her father is working abroad and his company are paying her fees.

Antonia Forest also went off the well trodden path with her stories, but I think they will long outlast Trebizon because she is a far superior writer.

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