Antonia Forest

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun May 4 14:31:39 EDT 2003


Anna wrote, among other things:

[I have snipped the discussion of class because it is absolutely clear to
me that this is something we simply do not agree about, and reiteration
will be boring.  I'm coming from one place, you're coming from somewhere
else, and we don't seem to have any middle ground.]

>> What Forest has little time for, it seems to me, is dishonourable
>> behaviour.
>        Some of the time. Not always. Remember we see most things through
>Nicola's eyes & Nicola's thoughts and actions aren't always honourable.

Erm....  Most of the trouble she gets into is because she is too honest for
her own good, and fails to tell the slithering-out half-truth Ginty or
Lawrie (or Tim!  Oh goodness, very much Or Tim!) would use without even
thinking about it.  (And Ginty would more-or-less get away with for ages
until she got herself into a real hole, and Lawrie would get caught out at
once because she would get it wrong.)

Thoughts are irrelevant to honour.  One can think what one chooses ("can't
shoot you for thinking!"); it is what one *does* that is either honourable
or not.

>Sometimes she can be very nasty, bullying, and full of contempt for others
>who she thinks are weaker than she is.

As in disliking someone who has deliberately told lies to get her into
trouble, and not hiding the fact that she thinks this was despicable?  Even
when her twin and what she thinks is her best friend are saying "oh, we've
forgotten all about that, so should you"?

The contempt is not for the being weak, it's for the being a sneak -- which
is a different matter altogether.  Being weak one may not be able to help;
being a sneak is a voluntary thing.

>She's so likeable though that these times can be hard to spot!

Point me at them, please?  I won't accept any dislike of Lois Sanger or
Marie Dobson as anything other than having the sense to see that they are
utterly unreliable and to be avoided where possible, though.

>And one of the most honourable characters in
>her books, Ann, gets an *extremely* rough ride, being derided by everyone
>for being a sap..

No, being disliked for being an interfering goody-goody, by people over
whom she is trying to hold the moral high ground by insisting on 'helping'
them whether they want to be helped or not, and being 'responsible' for
them when they don't need it (for which reason they never tell her anything
they don't absolutely have to, and who shall blame them).

Ann is the sort of person who not only insists on sitting on a
railway-station for two hours because she might miss the connection to
another train, but forces everyone else with her to suffer this boredom,
because it is sensible and reliable of her and she wants to be seen and
known to be 'good'.

Ann is the sort of person who unpacks for someone else without asking
whether they want her to and before she has unpacked her own trunk.

Ann is a dreary do-gooder, and I hope devoutly that one day when she grows
up and goes off and interferes with the lives of some cheerful heathen in
her capacity as a missionary nuisance they will *eat* her.  This will
provide the martyrdom she craves and spends her life courting.

>This I suspect is Forest's twisted sense of humour
>coming into play. BUt maybe she really means it. who knows. But it isn't
>pleasant...

I find it utterly satisfactory that Ann's pi behaviour is not made
admirable, as it would have been in a Victorian book written at, not for,
children.  As satisfactory as the rare occasions when Lois Sanger gets seen
through, or Val Longstreet gets her smug worldview a bit dented.

Give me Janice Scott any day; now there is someone who knows how to help
without being a buttinski.  Sees further through a millstone than most,
too.

Minnow


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