So here we are at the last audio adaptation of Malory Towers. Its been a rather short run of these audio comparisons but with only six volumes in the series, how could we expect more? Maybe I shall have to bite my tongue and read the Pamela Cox continuation novels and bring you some reviews of those. Anyway, on to the actual adaptation.
The introduction of the last term begins with Darrell at home, just about to leave for Malory Towers for the last time. She runs out to the car where her father is waiting impatiently for his daughters to appear.This is the first time we actually hear her father speak, and her mother is absent. In the books, both parents and Sally join Darrell and Felicity in the car to Malory Towers. I suppose that because she doesn’t say much that for the audio adaptation to keep to time it is just as simple to leave her out altogether than to squeeze her in.
The journey to Malory Towers is short and bittersweet because we all know this is the last one but even before we arrive at the wonderful world of Malory Towers we are being introduced to more new characters. In the last term there is a focus on the younger girls who can still get up to lots of mischief where the older girls, Darrell etc, can’t. Felicity and her friends in the second form make up the focus of a lot of the book. The character we’re introduced to in the beginning of the Last Term is someone called Josephine Jones. It seems that the girls in the car are all aware of her and she has been at Malory Towers for at least one term. Jo, as she’s usually called, has an appalling father and a very high opinion of herself which later on becomes her downfall.
One of the issues with Jo’s story is that when it comes to the money aspect of it (her parents are very wealthy) the PC brigade has been in and decided that they need to change five pounds in old money into ten pounds sterling as it’s assumed the listeners will not realise the time in which the story is set and have no idea of the currency change. As a purist it is these kinds of changes that make some the magic disappear from Blyton’s novels. The assumption that children wouldn’t think that five whole pounds was a lot of money is ridiculous. When I was the right age for these five pounds felt like a fortune, and all right when I was eight or so five pounds could get you a lot more, so much more that Jo’s ten pounds felt like a fortune! What really is the need for that sort of change? It’s just pedantic.
The next thing I want to talk about it the complete removal of a character from the adaptation. In the adaptation there is one new girl, the sports loving Amanda Chartlow (or Shoutalot, if you’re Mam’zelle Dupont) who plays a big part in the story, especially in regards to the second form and the bumptious June’s wake up call to stop just being the class clown. However in the book there are two new girls in the sixth form, one of them being Mam’zelle Rougier’s niece Suzanne who has come all the way from France to learn some English customs. Although Suzanne does not add much plot to the book, she is in a way the comic relief, and is another link to the second form as she adores the tricks they play on the Mam’zelles.
In regards to Amanda Chartlow, who is superb at games from a famous games school, her parts are mostly still intact. However there are some big jumps in her storyline with Alicia’s cousin June, such as the conversation where Amanda offers to coach June in tnnis and swimming, but it is more or less all there. Amanda is a very dominating character and although it comes through in the audio, it is very much lacking in line with the book.
When the audio starts drawing to the end, we don’t really get the full whack of feeling that Darrell’s leaving causes us in the book; the sombre walk around the school, having to say goodbye to everything and making Felicity promise to carry the standard high. Its a very touching part of the book, and really its lost in the audio where this part is cut out in favour of instrumental music.
It’s not the best Malory Towers adaptation, that probably has to go to the fifth, but its good because in a way there isn’t much from the book it doesn’t cover, the change in money is annoying to those of us in the know, and the exclusion of Suzanne is just frankly ridiculous when you could have cut some of the time from the instrumental music to fill in those parts. As always it’s little things, but if they get children wanting to read the books, well then, that’s the best we can hope for.
I will say however, even though I’ve been looking at these critically they are still full of nostalgia for me, and they do just confirm my love for Malory Towers. Oh how I wish I had been to that school! Long live Malory Towers!