23/12/2014

Last Term at Malory Towers (by Enid Blyton)


Earlier this year, an eight-year-old friend started reading - and re-reading - my elderly set of ‘Malory Towers’ books by Enid Blyton. I loved these books as a child, and indeed as a teenager, and although I hadn’t read any of them for some time, I found myself dipping into ‘Third Form at Malory Towers’, surprised to find how much I liked it.

A couple of days ago my friend, now nine, returned ‘Last Term at Malory Towers’, which she had been re-reading for the third or fourth time. I picked it up in an idle moment and read the first chapter… and before long was deep within the book.

Darrell and her friend Sally are sixth-formers, in their last term at the girls’ boarding school. They’re both going off to University in the Autumn; Darrell is head girl and Sally the sports captain, so they’re two of the most important people in the school. Enid Blyton’s characterisation wasn’t the greatest; she tended to caricature her minor people and some of the main ones too but in my view Darrell and Sally are two of her finest creations who have matured into likeable young women through the series.

Darrell’s sister Felicity is in the second form, and determined to carry on her sister’s good influence - as well as joining in some clever ‘tricks’ on the unfortunate teaching staff. In her class there’s a wealthy girl called Jo, evidently what we used to call ‘nouveau riche’, with a brash self-made father and a tendency to care for nobody but herself. She’s a different caricature from the other unpleasant girls in the school, most of whom reform to some extent.

Gwen, in Darrell’s class, continues to be self-centred, this time angry at her father and sulking right through the term despite Darrell’s best efforts. And there’s a new girl called Amanda, a brilliant sportswoman, who rather turns her nose up at Mallory Towers’ sports, until she spots a junior who has some distinct promise…

There are lots of good threads interweaving in this book, which brings the series to a good ending. There’s high drama too, and a surprisingly moving section towards the end of the book.

It’s not the greatest writing; there are stilted conversations, viewpoint switches almost at random, cliches and too many exclamation marks. And yet the moral aspects shine through. Enid Blyton encouraged an entire generation of British children to become readers, and I’m thankful that she did.

My copy of the book looks like the one shown in the US Amazon link, and can often be found second-hand. However this book is regularly re-printed in the UK and can be found individually, as above, or in a boxed set.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

No comments: