As seasoned readers of this blog know I do read a fair bit for pleasure although with my learning and developmental disabilities, they need to use more the language and reading abilities nearer to that of a child around ten to twelve than even junior adult fiction having the right mix of a good story and something that stretches me just enough.
The Nancy and St.Brides series of school based stories by Dorita Fairlie Bruce is one I've been slowly making through since being presented with one book and buying the others in a series of contemporary high quality reprints.
Her writing style and use of language are a good fit for some one like me as are some of the works of Enid Blyton and Jacqueline Wilson being more for intermediate junior readers and the topics just a bit more mature.
When I wrote the last entry about this series earlier in the year, we left Nancy at Maudsley Grammar after a disastrous term at St. Brides, working on the resolving the feud between themselves and Larkistone through the Guildery movement and its ethos of moral education and personal responsibility and the inter-school competitions.
This new term a heiress, Barbara Stephen, arrives and Nancy is involved in settling her in although the expression "two's company, three's a crowd" comes to mind as it place strains on her previous friendship with with Desda.
Things would of been so much the better if Barbara had not been so encouraged to see her role as that heiress, home taught by a Governess who very much indulged that very self centred, revolving all around her way of thinking who just wanted everything to be as it was. This meant when she was spirited away from those people who only wanted to be her parents for who she was with the inheritance for the Stephen's who cared more for her development as a child, she could not even see she had so much to be grateful for even for going to a lesser school.
An example of that defiant streak is her refusal to consider changing how she has her hair fixed as it is long and very wavy in a more grown up way while at school it would of been a bit shorter and in pigtails or in a bob even though the signs from the other girls and even staff could not of been plainer. Nancy takes a principal stand of not ganging up on her but carefully steering her toward the values of the other girls, seeing past all that attitude she possesses, that there was a lot of potential good and she joins the Guildry where that hair creates problems for the unit inspection although to Nancy's surprise given the problems she had in Section 6 as "Maid of Merit" with unit discipline and even fighting, Barbara does emerge with some credit for her conduct.
That three's a crowd side rears its head when Desda decides to study for a Scholarship (what I understand to be a funded place based on ability) with an examination when Barbara decides to spite her in a battle for affections to apply too even though she really has no need to given her financial security which indeed brings her attempted kidnapping and would crush Desda's ambitions which she was fully able to realize.
During this period Barbara's relationship with school, the village she moved to and her new parents come under strain as her mind battles with the emotions her past way of life and that she now is in and expected to adjust to. Indeed she even begs her Aunt to have her back and home schooled but the kidnapping puts that very much on hold while finding Nancy, who spent hours looking for her and her new friends tending to her injuries sustained from escaping the kidnapping, she finds herself torn between her original aim of leaving them all and wanting to play for Maudsley in the inter school cricket match.
Barbara finds even though she prepared for the scholarship exam revising, she struggles recalling information and understanding what the question is really requiring, something a person undertaking it is taught, so she fails it.
Passing an examination requires mastering your nerves in addition to learning examination skills rather more than her sense of pride.
Having recovered from her injuries, she plays in the Cricket competition excelling, leading her team to victory, gaining acceptance from not just the other girls in the team but the whole school and soon she decides she really wants that school life as just a everyday girl part of a group than that exalted on display older girl as doll-child with all her refinery on.
Indeed the end is quite moving that she decides to give away her fancy dresses for her plain girls wear and her uniform and lets Nancy cut her hair in a bob using a pudding bowl: she has given up the past, literally discarding it accepting being molded anew apologizing to Nancy for how she treated her and the others.
Reading the story really made an impression on me, seeing family fortunes aside some similarities between myself and Barbara and where we were lost in self serving bubble that did us no good. Equally we shared a stubborn streak, refusing to accept change, deliberately ignoring the messages our peers and 'grown ups' especially were giving us even though it was very much for our own good.
Accepting change, moving on is very much the sign of a more mature attitude to life making that transition toward greater independence and personal responsibility.