Following on from the review I did of the First Term at Malory Towers audio before Christmas I finally caved and brought an downloadable version of The Second Form at Malory Towers because I couldn’t find my cassette tape.
Anyway, once I had downloaded all the technology, thanks to Amazon for making it a chore and a half, I was able to transport myself back to my childhood when this was the first Malory Towers I had encountered.
I knew there were books, but I was at the awkward stage where I wasn’t really reading but still liked stories. My parents allowed me to listen to cassette tapes in bed to go to sleep so they brought me some. I suspect that the only ones available at the time were Second Form, Third Year and Upper Fourth, because for a very long time that was all I believed existed of Malory Towers.
On to the point, we’re rushed very quickly through the introductions again, to Darrell heading back to school with Sally Hope, as the two have now become best friends. A rather quick introduction is standard really for the audios which only have an hour to play out everything. One thing I do like about this intro is that they equality of the driving situation between Darrell’s parents is highlighted. Its made clear that Mr Rivers does most of the driving but there is a nice point where, even in the book, Blyton has Mrs Rivers take the wheel of the car to relieve her husband. I do believe that Blyton herself loved going out in the motor car and I believe she could drive as well, which is why she felt it was appropriate to put into the book that Mrs Rivers could as well.
In rather quick succession when we arrive at Malory Towers we are introduced once more to all of the girls, some of them we never get told who they are which leaves us guessing and who have deliciously plummy accents. If you want proper English toffiness, this is the audio to listen to!
The new girls are also introduced very quickly and then each of them throughout the episode has a main part of the story but then go very quiet. As a purest, the fact that so much is left out of the dramatization is distressing because you pick up on bits that they have missed and add so much more depth to the story.
Its not a bad adaptation but hearing it read aloud as it were makes me annoyed at the girls’ immaturity in some cases, such as handling the problems with Ellen, but I have to remind myself that they are like 14 years old, and that I wasn’t very mature at that age. I also don’t like the way the mistresses seem to lack knowledge about what’s being said around the school and acting on the silly rumours. Malory Towers will always be my favourite place to want to go to school but I do think there are some holes somewhere in the lax teaching style when the girls are not in lessons!
Overall, even for the nostalgia kick, this is a better adaptation than the first, I think the cast probably were finding their feet more and gelling more. So overall, this is a pretty good one, apart from the gaps, but then as a perfectionist and purest I hope I can be forgiven for wanting the perfect recording?
Next review: Third Year at Malory Towers: Audio adaptation
Or read a review of the Second Form novel here.