I’ve now read all six of these, having read the first one a while back. They’re readable, but I’m not overly impressed. I’m not sure that Malory Towers particularly lends itself to sequels, because its “world” just isn’t big enough. We only know the basics about the girls’ home lives, and the action all takes place on or near the school premises. There aren’t even any school trips. Pamela Cox does try to address that issue by placing Bill and Clarissa’s riding school close to Malory Towers and showing the girls spending time there, but it hardly compares to the Chalet School girls’ walks in the mountains or even the Kingscote Guide walks.
The books are about Felicity Rivers and her friends, although Daphne Hope also features in the later ones. There are midnight feasts, “treeks” being played on Mam’zelle Dupont and various sagas about nasty new girls and mysteries over who’s responsible for things disappearing, plus plenty of tennis and lacrosse matches, but where Malory Towers scores is its realism in showing that people are actually having to work and pass exams, and there’s none of that in these books. Incidentally, has anyone ever understood the form system at Malory Towers? It should be either I, II, III etc or Upper III, Lower IV, Upper IV etc, and it seems to be a weird hybrid!
Some of the storyline are OK, but some of them are plain silly. Gwendoline Lacey returns, to teach deportment and other finishing school type stuff. Excuse me? Malory Towers wasn’t into that sort of thing. Girls were there to have fun and learn to be strong, reliable women etc, but they were also there to work and pass exams, not to learn to be debutantes. Even worse, Jo Jones returns, using her middle name and her mother’s maiden name, and none of her old classmates recognise her because she’s lost weight and is wearing glasses! There’s also a story about a long-lost grandma, which is more Angela Brazil than Enid Blyton. And a teacher who is spying on the girls, and blackmails someone who was expelled from a school at which she taught previously into telling her what’s going on. Why would a teacher want to spy on pupils? It’s hardly as if they’re concealing state secrets!
I sound as if I’m being very critical. I don’t mean to be: it’s just that Malory Towers is a bit of a cultural icon, and it’s strange reading these books which aren’t quite Blyton’s Malory Towers. They’re not a bad read, but they’re not super-wonderful either.