taken my "growing up" stories and put them on a page of their own, in
chronological order. You'll find the link in the menu on the right...
Saville: The Dagger and the Flame
6th May 2021
Marston Baines No 6
The Dagger & the Flame is
set in the Dolomites in southern Tyrol. Francesca, the lovely Italian
heroine of Dark Danger, comes to
meet her English friends Patrick, Rosina and Simon Baines. Francesca
finds a strange young man stunned and half-drowned in a pool at the
head of a valley called the Wolf Run. She saves his life, but when she
returns with help he has disappeared. It is soon evident that the
injured man is a fugitive who is being hunted with dogs by other
strangers to the district. Simon is now being trained for bigger
responsibilities in the Service by his uncle Marston. He has been sent,
as a tourist, to the Dolomites to investigate rumours of an
organization instigating student revolt throughout the world.
Bigger, MS Society expert on Marston Baines, has written the
introduction and publishing history.
The Dagger & The Flame was
published on 6th May 2021.
Although I prefer Malcolm
Saville's Lone Pine Adventures, I do wish I'd known about him at the
time I was in my teens. I cannot ever remember a time when I didn't
have something to read - my life was dominated by three things:
reading, listening to the radio, and listening to music - but I don't
remember ever reading a Malcolm Saville book until Girls Gone By
Publishers started sending them to me to review in Books Monthly. I was
never a huge James Bond fan, although we did go to see all of the Sean
Connery films when they came up - by that time, I was married and
although we had a TV, we did regularly go to the cinema to see all the
big films at the Astoria Cinema in Stevenage. I'd read a couple of the
James Bond books, and they were infintely better than any of the films.
But I was unaware of Malcolm Saville except for the occasional advert
for one of his new books in my Tiger and Lion comics. I grew to love
Modesty Blaise - far better than Bond, in my opinion, but I never
discovered Marston Baines until the GGBP reprints, and I'm certain I
would have been thrilled to read them when I was a young teen. However,
they were written specifically for young people, and whilst I'm happy
to read the Lone Piners, and any amount of Enid Blyton, and Elinor M
Brent-Dyer's Chalet School stories, I have to say there was limited
appeal from the Marston Baines stories for me. I'm not sure that
Malcolm knew quite how to write about young people getting involved
with girlfriends and boyfriends. Having said all that, the package, as
always from GGBP is quite extraordinarily good, with the exception of
the cover illustration. I'm a traditionalist, brought up with the
stunning cover artwork on the 1960s Pan Giants (there will be an
article about this in a future issue of Books Monthly), and although
you can recognise the two people on the cover as people (not a la
Picasso, in other words), the style is late sixties, when everything
about paperback and book cover art went disastrously wrong, in my
opinion. It's not the worst cover art I've ever seen, but it's nowhere
near the best. Just compare it with the stunning cover art on the four
1960s annuals I've chosen for this month's nostalgia page, above, and
you may get an inkling of what I'm getting at...
brilliant new titles from Girls Gone By
Publishers - 1: Elinor M Brent-Dyer - Lorna at Wynyards
9th March 2021
first published Lorna
at Wynyards in 2003 and are
delighted to be
publishing it again.
report showed that she was ‘inclined to be bumptious and domineering’
in the small school she attended. As a result, her mother, who needed
to look after her husband and elder daughter, sent her to live with
Auntie Kath, so that she could go daily to Wynyards to find her feet
among the 200-odd girls there. How she did makes one of the best of
EBD’s school stories, with Lorna eventually enjoying life both at
school and at Auntie Kath’s.
Adrianne Fitzpatrick has
written a short story, ‘La Souris Blanche’, about Kit and her mother
meeting Joey Bettany in France, to go with this new edition. This
follows on from something mentioned in the text!
Lorna at Wynyards was
published on 9th March 2021.
discovered the Chalet School series when GGBP started sending me their
books to review in Books Monthly, and I have to say that EBD is my
second favourite girls' school author after Enid Blyton (of course!).
LORNA AT WYNYARDS isn't a Chalet School title but it still gets the
full magnificent GGBP treatment, with a
stunning three-colour cover and a riveting tale that is reminiscent of
Enid's Naughtiest Girl in School. This is EBD at her absolute best! As
soon as I'd finished "Lorna" I started on "Jo Returns..." and couldn't
help noticing that Dr Russell appears in both books - maybe a relative
of the Bettanys? Also, and probably another coincidence, one of the new
staff at the Chalet School in "Jo Returns", is a Mrs Carey, a kind of
assistant teacher. As a Mrs Carey is Lorna's Mum in LORNA AT WYNYARDS,
can only assume that this is one of EBD's little contrivances, to have
all of her characters in all of her books either related to or
associated with eaxch other. It's something that Stephen King does all
the time, and I love it in both authors. Finally, of course, there are
a couple of mentions of "Madge Bettany" books being provided for the
characters in "Lorna" to read, and Madge Bettany is, as we all know,
the founder of the Chalet School, although it is Jo who is the famous
authoress. I said at
the beginning of this review that Enid Blyton is my favourite girls'
school story author, and an announcement has recently been made that
there are new series of the Malory Towers stories because the first
series was such a smash hit. With TV producers scrambling to satisfy
the increasing demand for nostalgia and "retro", maybe it's time for a
Chalet School series to be made? Many of EBD's Chalet School stories
appear to have been written to a formula, and it's refreshing to read
one of her books that isn't about the Chalet School, brilliant as they
are. LORNA AT WYNYARDS is brillliant fun, with some heart-rending
moments too, which
perfectly illustrate the way people dealt with grief in the pre WW2
years. LORNA OF WYNYARDS is of its time, but at the same time it's
timeless in many ways. I know people who attended public schools for
girls, and times change, obviously, but the concept is the same. Groups
of girls away from home, sometimes homesick, sometimes sophisticated,
sometimes not on their best behaviour... For me it was always a
thrilling concept, and stories set in girls' and boys' boarding schools
always entertained me right royally. I'm a socialist, and shouldn't
really encourage them, but I can't help it. They're stories from a
period in our history when they provided the very best literary
entertainment, as far as I was concerned - I still love to read them,
and have enjoyed Lorna at Wynyards as much as any other girls' school
story. Probably more - it's superb!
Elinor M Brent-Dyer: Jo Returns To The Chalet School
9th February 2021
has left school, but she comes to pay a visit the day the girls go back
for the autumn term, and plans to stay for one night. But measles up at
Die Rosen put paid to that – she cannot go home. In the end, she stays
for the whole term, writing her first book, discovering and coaching
new girl Polly Heriot, and taking over classes when staff are ill. The
book ends with a Christmas Play which brings tears to many people’s
Armada paperback had minor, frequent, cuts.
Bruce has written a short story for this edition – very moving it is,
to GGBP I have a huge number of Chalet School titles on my bookshelf,
in pride of place, because they are so colourful and so well produced.
There is little doubt in my mind that when it comes to the end of the
year selections for books of the year, GGBP will once again be my
publisher of the year. Their attention to detail is second to none,
their production values are superb, and a GGBP paperback is an
absolute delight to have in your collection. JO RETURNS TO
CHALET SCHOOL gives EBD the opportunity to introduce a new character,
Polly, who is an orphan and being brought up by two people who are, in
her words, in their eighties - in fact they are in their seventies, but
whilst I'm mid-seventies, I am nowhere near as decrepit and
useless as these two, and can fully understand Polly's need to seek
some other kind of existence. Luckily, she runs into Jo in the town,
and Jo persuades her to come back to the Chalet School where she can
happily continue her education, previously at the hands of governesses,
with the consent of her legal guardians. The introduction of Polly
makes for an interesting term at the school, and, once again, this is
EBD at her absolute best. I'm proud and privileged to be able to review
Girls Gone By Publishers' books in the pages of Books Monthly, and have
genuine respect and admiration for them for the success of their
publishing operation. The cover of this book is from the original
Chambers hardcover version, by Nina K Brisley, one of the very finest
Chalet School illustrators, and there are more of her brilliant
in the text. This is a superb package, which, had it not been for LORNA
AT WYNYARDS, might have been my Book of the Month. With Josephine
Elder's CHERRY TREE PERCH (see below) this is a spectacular month for
Girls Gone By Publishers...
Josephine Elder: Cherry Tree Perch
19th February 2021
Cherry Tree Perch is
the second title in the Farm School series by Josephine Elder. We
published the first title, Exile for Annis, in
2013, and now are
continuing the series due to popular demand.
summer term finds Annis and Kitty back at the Farm School, where they
have discovered a new vantage point – high up in an old cherry tree
from which to survey their world. Life at the Farm School is always
exciting, and this term is no exception; the arrival of eccentric Miss
de Vipon however, endangers Annis and Kitty’s friendship for a time,
and Annis also has trouble solving a puzzle which concerns some fired
Corrick has written our introduction.
Cherry Tree Perch was
published on 19 February 2021.
picked up a copy of CHERRY TREE PERCH in the Children's Press edition
from the 1960s whilst rummaging through the children's book section in
our many charity shops in the town - when they were last open, which
seems an age ago. I am reading JO RETURNS TO THE CHALET SCHOOL right
now but as it's now the 25th March, I may get round to reading CHERRY
TREE PERCH in time for publication of this issue of Books
Bruce: The Chalet School in Guernsey
13th November 2020
fleeing the terrors of Nazism, the Chalet School has settled into their
new home in Guernsey and now the second term on its island home begins.
Some old friends are delighted to return to their beloved school, but
in among the new arrivals is one who has a history with the school.
Mélanie Kerdec was a member of a group called the Mystic M who
terrorised the school some years previously, where their bad deeds
culminated in the kidnapping of Sybil Russell. Now Mélanie has come as
a pupil to the school she detests and is determined to show that she
has by no means forgiven or forgotten the past.
with that excitement, outside affairs cannot be ignored and the war
continues to intrude as rationing affects both lessons and Guiding. An
island-wide air raid drill gives the senior girls an exciting evening,
and the war on the Continent leaves one mistress grief-stricken. Worse
is to come as an investigator arrives to learn more about the previous
term’s dramatic plane crash. When he cannot promise that the Channel
Islands will be safe from future conflict, those in authority must
consider leaving Guernsey to find a safe place for them to live for as
long as the war lasts.
finally, the new Chalet School "fill-in" by Katherine Bruce. Both
Katherine and Helen produce CS stories that are actually (for me) hard
to tell apart from those written originally by EBD. It's a well known
fact that the Germans eventually occupied the Channel Islands, but the
events in this stirring tale occur before the occupation, giving free
rein to the girls to indulge in their usual high jinks and secret
society stuff. I really can't fault this one as a CS story, it has
everything! Absolutely enthralling!
Retro Magazine - the latest issue - out now!
the stuff that dreams are made of! As The Maltese Falcon turns 80 we
chart the rise of the film’s anti-hero. Made against the backdrop of
his failing marriage it was the moment Bogart became a star. We also
look at the sometimes surprising roles that launched and ended careers
of big-name stars. We have a detailed behind-the-scenes look at
Hitchcock’s Rebecca and chart the rise and fall of Charlie’s Angels.
Discover too why James Cagney was targeted by the Mafia and
childhood taunts that haunted Freddie Mercury.
small print: Books
Monthly, now well into its 24th
year on the web,
is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul
Norman. You can contact me here.
If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me
remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this
publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll let you know where to send it.
o n t e n t s:
& Science Fiction
Living with Skipper
up in the 1960s
Bilk Sleeve Notes
friends at Girls Gone By Publishers just sent me a package of their
latest books, and you can read about them at the bottom of this