I thought it might get a tad tedious if I reviewed these all individually, so I’m going to give a quick overview of the rest of the series (my review of First Term at Malory Towers is here). The general gist, however, is that these are brilliant!
Book: Malory Towers (Second Form, Third Year, Upper Fourth, In the Fifth, Last Term) by Enid Blyton
Read before: Hundreds of times
Ownership: I don’t remember a time before owning these!
General impressions on this reread were that the girls were quite a bit bitchier than I remembered – they can be extremely harsh to the girls they deem ‘not quite right’. As a kid, I identified so strongly with the ‘good’ girls that I never really noticed, but as an adult it’s definitely noticeable.
Second Form at Malory Towers: Not one of my favourites. The main plotlines are a little too dramatic for my taste, culminating in two girls hanging over a cliffside in a storm. I do love the first time Gwendoline tries to make friends with a rich person though!
Third Year at Malory Towers: This one introduces Bill, one of my favourite characters, and Mavis, one of the most boring. It’s interesting how content Enid Blyton was to create these single-faceted characters, but where Belinda and Irene’s talents, for example, don’t dominate their personalities, Mavis’s “Voice” is so deeply boring that when she gets her comeuppance, I barely care. Zerelda the American is very funny, and the midnight horse rescue is fun.
Upper Fourth at Malory Towers: One of my favourites! I love the entirety of Clarissa’s plotline in this book, especially the events that bring about the midnight feast. I love the tension between the twins. This is also the first time we get to see the younger generation, with Darrell’s sister Felicity, so that even as the original cast grow up into sensible young women, we still get plenty of tricks and japes!
In the Fifth at Malory Towers: My overall favourite. Is there anything more delicious than the end of this book, when you see Darrell in her moment of triumph, standing on stage listening to the applause for the play she wrote? That’s been the ideal image of success for me since I was a child thanks to this book – and I’ve felt that triumph a few times, which is amazing. I also love the introduction of Maureen, and the impact it has on Gwen – it’s so funny watching her realise how annoying she must be.
Last Term at Malory Towers: A lot of the enjoyment of this one has gone out of it for me as I’ve grown up, because the whole thing has a sad, sepia-toned nostalgia over it. I hate watching Darrell say goodbye to Malory Towers – it just makes me feel so old! Last Term gets some kudos though for the best ever trick played on Mamzelle – the magnet! “My bun! He is descending!” will never fail to make me laugh.
I reread these every year or so, and I don’t think there’s many books I find more comforting. They’re like a warm blanket of a read, just cosy and lovely and wonderful. I’m looking forward to trying the continuation series by Pamela Cox, which I’ve never read before – I thought her extra books in the St Clare’s series were quite well done, so we’ll see how we get on with Felicity in future!