The Potterverse

minnow at minnow at
Mon Feb 23 14:03:30 EST 2004

SallyO wrote:

>I haven't read much EB (my mother disapproved of it when
>I was young enough to want to), but the fact that I still recall some of the
>characters in the one school story I *did* read must mean she wasn't bad at
>drawing big picture characters. There were two trick-players who were
>different in character, a cheat, a fiery gypsy girl, an American, and two
>sporty twins.

Er, yes, and from what I recall that means it was one of about eighteen of
her books, in which the same cast appears, more or less, in different
schools and combinations and with different names.  I read every book of
hers the local bookshop had in, one term: the owners were kind, they let me
sit on the floor in a corner reading from after-school until they closed,
then "steal" the book I was reading, on the strict understanding that I
brought it back next day with no marmalade on it.  I suppose I may have
been seven or eight, and my mother was at work, and the library was a mile
in the wrong direction, so it suited all parties: I put off shoplifters,
they claimed, and gave them a reader's view of their stock.  (I was reading
the Blyton because after a while I had read most of the ones I really
wanted to: it wasn't a very big shop.)

I quit reading Blyton when I realised I couldn't be sure, from the first
chapter, whether I had read a particular book before, and wasn't able to be
sure until about chapter 6 that I hadn't, because they were all so similar.
Since when I haven't read one, so I may be doing her an injustice, but
somehow I don't think I am.  As I remember it, there was a pattern that I
came to recognise, involving ingredients from among a small set including a
midnight feast, a trick played on the French mistress (who spoke broken
English, always), someone being accused of something but turning out not to
have done it, or to have shielded someone else who had done it but only
because her mother was ill, and so forth.  Somewhere near the end someone
would fall off a cliff or a building or down a well, or get caught in a
fire, and be rescued by the Sullen Girl Who Didn't Fit In but was now
Recognised As A Heroine.  I don't remember much else, mercifully, and I may
have conflated them with other later reading.

I also got the impression, in the non-school books, that there was always a
secret tunnel or passage, or at the very least a cave that turned out to
lead somewhere, usually to the cellars of a house one needed to get into.
Again, I may be doing her an injustice, but there did seem to be rather
more secret tunnels than there ever are in real life (chiz chiz).

Are there by any chance any secret passages/tunnels/caves in Potter?

I can't think of any obvious ones in DWJ, apart from the chained-off
passage in *A Tale of Time City*, and that isn't exactly "secret".  Well,
there are a couple of entries in the Tough Guide, but I don't think that
really counts.


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