I thought it would be interesting to read an Enid Blyton book again after watching the BBC biopic about her which was screened fairly recently. So I decided to read this one as part of the Flashback Challenge.
In the Fifth at Malory Towers was first published in 1950 but I read the whole Malory Towers series in the summer of 1969 when I was 10 years old. I remember that I was completely engrossed in the whole thing, I absolutely loved it, it was my alternative life.
In the Fifth is all about the girls in the fifth form being given more responsibility as they grow older, and being expected to work hard on their own. The beginning is the usual catching up with friends and the introduction of a new girl. Each girl’s personality is spelled out for us, there seems to be one of every sort of person.
They are given the task of producing an entertainment for the whole school and their families at Christmas. After some thought, they decide to put on a pantomime. Darrell writes a version of Cinderella, which as you would expect goes down a storm. There isn’t very much of ‘cool and steady’ Sally in this one, who I seem to remember was my favourite character.
Blyton obviously saw herself as the Darrell character and she is always the heroine of the day. There is no doubting the fact that Blyton was a pretty nasty person herself in reality, completely delusional. Well there’s a lot of it about.
Anyway, people tend to be a bit sniffy about Blyton nowadays, but I don’t really think it is fair. After all they are meant for young children and I certainly loved Malory Towers and The Famous Five when I was even younger.
I think that her writing was probably a bit dated even in 1969 but that probably just added to the charm for me. I went straight from Blyton to Agatha Christie then to other vintage crime writers and on to the classics from about 11 or 12 years old and I haven’t stopped since. Anything that gets people reading can’t be bad.
I had always been a member of the local library. But when my parents took me to Morecambe in Lancashire for a fortnights holiday in 1969, and it seemed to rain for the whole two weeks, Malory Towers was a lifesaver to me.
I bought the full set of six at the Morecambe branch of Woolworths, which of course, is sadly no longer with us. Having visited Morecambe last year for a day, (it didn’t rain) we decided to take this photograph of the old Woolies store for posterity.