Firstly, an apology. In the last week, I’ve deprived you of a ‘things’ round-up and a Tuesday Treat! I’m suffering ever so slightly from writer’s block at the moment, which is weird, considering that I wouldn’t have to reach too far into any kind of creativity to provide you with a list of things I want to buy, nor for a few pictures of a man I find especially attractive. But something has been stopping me from posting!
So it’s Wednesday, and therefore time for my weekly post. Last week’s was a bit of a non-event, it wasn’t the most interesting post I ever wrote (beginning of writers block). This week’s probably won’t be all that more interesting, but I want to do one so that I can get back into the groove of writing. This week, I’m not using a prompt, I’m just posting on something I wanted to write about. The BBC is currently having a books season – there are lots of programmes on and they are covering World Book Night (which I am involved in, more on that at a later date!). Every night for this week and the next, there is a programme called My Life in Books running on BBC2, with Anne Robinson talking to famous people about favourite books throughout their life. One of the categories that she asks about is favourite childhood book. I therefore decided to write about one of my favourites.
My favourite childhood book
I read a lot as a child, as lots of us did. I learnt to read before I went to school, and don’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read. There were obviously lots of books that I read and loved, or had read to me, and it’s hard to pick a favourite.
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As a young child, my favourites were a series featuring Alfie, by Shirley Hughes. I still love them now, the illustrations, also by Hughes, are so lovely, and the stories are simple but fun.
However, if I was to pick a book (or a series of books) that are my actual favourites, I’d have to pick Malory Towers by Enid Blyton. My sister had a 3-in-1 book (with a red cover) of the last three stories in the series, and I used to borrow that and read them. Then I remember finding the first three stories in another volume (with a pink cover) in a shop when I was on holiday, and I used my holiday money to buy it. I still have the red book, even though it technically belongs to my sister, but I don’t know where the pink one went. Luckily I have the first three books separately, so I have the entire series.
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For anyone who doesn’t know, Malory Towers is the story of Darrell Rivers, a girl who attends Malory Towers, a boarding school in Cornwall. The series follows Darrell through her time at the school, along with such friends as Sally, Alicia, Irene, Mary Lou and Gwen. Darrell and her friends begin the first book as, not surprisingly in a book called First Term at Malory Towers, first years at the boarding school; young, naïve and impressionable. Throughout the years that follow, they go through various ups and downs, make new friends, say goodbye to old ones, and play various pranks on their teachers. By the time the girls reach Last Term at Malory Towers, they are confident young women, and Darrell is set to study at the University of St. Andrews.
There are many reasons why I love this series so much. One is that, quite simply Enid Blyton wrote what children wanted to read. I read Malory Towers in the 1980s, some 40 years after they were first written, but they still captured my imagination. Enid Blyton books were an important part of many children’s childhoods, and even now, my nieces know and love Noddy, so the tradition continues.
Another reason for my love of Malory Towers is, very simply, the school setting. I can’t remember ever hating school. In fact, I can’t really remember ever not loving school. It’s not the coolest thing in the world to admit, but it’s true. I was never a rebel, I was almost always good, and I loved (and still do love) to learn. There wasn’t really much not to like about school. I can’t say that I would honestly have wanted to go to boarding school, but I didn’t need to, I could read Malory Towers. Besides, I can’t imagine that boarding school would have lived up to my expectations; if it wasn’t Cornwall in the late 1940s, it wasn’t for me.
The final reason to explain my love for this series is the central character of Darrell. Darrell is the best heroine, because she’s flawed. Her biggest flaw is her temper – she lets fly more than once during the series, she even pushes Sally Hope across the room at one point. Luckily Sally forgives her and they become best friends. Another time, she slaps Gwen (though most people would agree that ‘Dear Gwendoline Mary’ deserves everything she gets, and more). But Darrell knows that her hot temper gets her into trouble, and she realises that she has to learn to bring it under control. She is the most likeable character in the Malory Towers series, because she recognises her flaws and tries her hardest to be a better person. She ends the series as Head Girl of the Sixth Form, and, as I previously mentioned, takes a place at university to continue her studies.
Writing about my love for this series has made me realise that I want to read them all again! If I ever have a daughter, I’m going to insist that she reads Malory Towers; in the meantime I might give it a few years and then introduce my nieces to the books.
Until next time!