After Monitress Merle, I was really in the mood to revisit where my love of school stories came from, so I returned to one of my very favourite childhood reads…
Book: First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
Read before: Many, many times.
Ownership: Had as long as I can remember. It may even have been my mum’s…
I suppose there must be a first time I read this book, but every word of it is so engraved into my consciousness that I can’t pinpoint any particular instances of reading it. It’s only a little book – even all six together can’t be more than 500 pages total – but Malory Towers is as real to me as Hogwarts, and at least as formative. I defy anyone to read Miss Grayling’s welcome speech and not want to be ‘one of the successes’ of Malory Towers.
This first installment in the series introduces the characters – our heroine Darrell, witty Alicia, timid Mary-Lou, despicable Gwendolyn Mary Lacey – and although they are so defined by their traits that they are almost caricatures, I think this is what makes them so real to the reader. There’s a sense of innocent black-and-whiteness in this first book, and though the girls do grow throughout their time at the school, I can see how some people could dismiss Blyton’s work as moralising or overly simple. But I think it is that simplicity that makes these books and these people stick in my mind – every scene is like a painting, and were I transported to the school, I know exactly how I would fit in.
Maybe I just fell in love with them at the right time, but I will happily continue to read First Term every time I need a pick-me-up or a moment of feeling the world is set to rights.
5 out of 5 cats, of course.