10/11/2010

Not Scarlet but Gold (by Malcolm Saville)

I don't remember exactly when I first came across the books by Malcolm Saville, but it was some time during my childhood or early teens. Perhaps I read some of his books while staying at my grandparents' house in the summer. I particularly liked his adventure series featuring the 'Lone Pine' club, and gradually collected the books when I was about fourteen or fifteen.

'Not Scarlet but Gold', which I bought in paperback at the end of 1974, is the fourteenth in the Lone Pine series, and has always been one of my favourites. I used to read the entire series (twenty books) right through, from time to time. The last time I remember doing so was in 1985, although it's possible that I also did so in the early 1990s. I remembering wondering, vaguely, if I would be interested in them when I was middle-aged... and am pleased to report that I am.

I decided, two-and-a-half years ago, that I would read the series through again, but interspersed with other books. I read 'Mystery at Witchend', first in the Lone Pine series, in April 2008. I spaced them out, but gradually read my way through the first eight in the series, reaching 'Saucers over the Moor' in September 2009. I wasn't impressed with that one, and for some reason forgot about the series for a while.

Wanting some shorter books for November, in the hope of finishing one per day, I looked at my children's/teenage books. I decided to skip a few of the Lone Pine series, and move on to 'Not Scarlet but Gold', which was always one of my favourites. Each book stands alone, so there's no particular reason to read them in order.

The books are set in the middle of the 20th century, this one in the 1960s. It's a particularly exciting adventure for the club, beginning - unusually - with a tense meeting in Germany between an elderly man and his aggressive nephew. The scene then moves to Shropshire, and we find the Lone Piners on their way to Seven Gates for a holiday. Peter (Petronella) is feeling rather low, for various reasons.

Malcolm Saville explains in the introductions to some of his books that, while he kept the club members the same age for the first books, he felt that the older ones, at least, needed to grow up somewhat. So Peter is now 16, as is David, who has always been her best friend. This is the first book in the series where romance starts to blossom between some of the older Lone Piners (in a very low-key way) but the irrepressible twins, Mary and Dickie, are still ten and have not changed much since the first book.

I always enjoy the characterisation of these books, and had forgotten much of the detail in the book although I remembered the outline of the plot reasonably well. As ever, I was quite disappointed when I reached the end!

Not always in print but reasonably easy to find second-hand in the Armada paperback edition; republished in the Girls Gone By edition too.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 10th November 2010

2 comments:

Phil said...

Hello Sue,
I've just read your book review for 'Not Scarlet But Gold' and it's finally done the trick - I've just ordered a copy from Amazon!
I can remember listening spellbound as my Primary School teach read aloud from this book. Little did I realise then that I would spend several years living in the lee of the Long Mynd - first in Church Stretton and then in Bishop's Castle. Too often I've resolved to re-read this Malcolm Saville book, so it was time to act!
I can only just remember the basic premise of gold holly berries as opposed to the usual scarlet so I'm looking forward to beginning at the beginning. Thanks for the final nudge to take me there!
All the best, Phil

Balinghasay said...

Like you, I've read through the 20 books several times in my life. Though i only completed the 20 about 4 years ago (about 30 years after I bought my first book). Right now, I'm on it again..Treasure at Amorys, having completed NSBGold, also one of my favorites. Being from Asia, it's always been part of my day dreams to visit the Lone Pine "world". I visited England for the 2nd time last year, visiting places "like" the Lone Pine settings. But did manage to drive through Dartmoor where Kings Holt of "Saucers" and "WM Girl?" is supposed to be in.