Title: In the Fifth at Malory Towers
Author: Enid Blyton
Age Rating: 9+
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Being fifth in the excellent Malory Towers series, what a fantastic addition to the series, this book is! Usually, before reading it, I am influenced by the dreaded point of the girls’ school-life where they have to settle down a bit (ie: no more tricks!!) which makes me a bit less eager to read the book. Nevertheless, this thrilling story is crammed with humour, and jokes. We see plenty of eventful scenes and jokes, and journey through a new term at Malory Towers, alongside some of Enid’s most original and exciting characters. At the beginning, amongst all the excitement and pleasure of a new term at their beloved Boarding School, Darrell and her friends welcome some new girls into their form – Maureen, who is rather stuck-up and spoilt at first, Moira (who instead of moving up into the sixth form, was left down in the fifth, along with her class mate, Catherine). Moria is very domineering and dictating at first, and Catherine, whom the girls’ later nick-name ‘Saint Catherine’ is always running around after people, being unbearably and annoyingly ‘saintly’.
Although the major perspective in this book features the fifth form, we also hear of many occurrences in the first form, where Darrell’s younger sister, is the popular friend of many more original and amusing characters. This is the source of various humorous tricks which feature in this book, anyway, the first being ‘the balloon trick’. June, who is Alicia’s younger sister (a very popular member of the fifth form) is the trickster of this form, and I was genuinely laughing out loud at the ‘balloon trick’. Basicly, under her uniform, she was wearing a deflated balloon suit, which when inflated made June look rather bloated and plump! We see Mam’zelle, the unsuspecting victim of these tricks, horror at the sight of June, apparently swelling up! Whilst Mam’zelle is absent (off to fetch Matron) Darrell appears and pops the balloons with a pin. The trick is then hidden away in June’s desk. It is later found and obtained by Mam’zelle, along with June’s collection of Trick Catalogues.
Meanwhile – a lot was occuring in the fifth form! The girls were planning and rehearsing for their very own Christmas Pantomime! And of course, this is how we get to hear of Moria’s unpleasantness. She is the main producer of the Pantomime and a very domineering one! Though at first the girls abide by her orders and put up with her ways, they soon become tired of it and drop out one by one – to Darrell’s horror, who was the playwright and had very high expectations for the end of term performance.
And then the Anonymous letters begin to appear. Anonymous letters seems a very unique subject for a children’s book, but Enid obviously wanted children to understand the seriousness of the crime because she also based her book ‘The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters’ on them.
Anyway, Moria keeps receiving a consistent array of Anonymous letters which contain some very spiteful words. The question is: who was the culprit?
Enid ensures that there is always plenty going on in her school books. As a basic structure for ths stories, there is usually always a minor mystery going on, a few tricks here and there, and something that the girls are working towards: a Pantomime, or a midnight feast, or perhaps a sports match. There is never an uneventful chapter in these highly entertaining novels and they are always such a pleasure to read or rediscover.
Most definitely worthy of a five star rating based on such a clever storyline, such a strong array of interesting characters and overall a wonderful insight into Boarding-school life.
Well, that’s it until the 1st of December, when I will be posting the first of my 24 books to get you feeling festive!…