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on 12 September 2014
So NEARLY a five star review. Sally Hayward is exceptionally good at capturing the authentic Forest tone: the dialogue is generally first rate and she gives enough of an ingenious twist to the 'school play/ concert' theme to stop it being more of the same. There are any number of minor incidents that I could imagine Antonia Forest nodding approvingly over: we get to meet Peter's Selby, for example, and to see new facets of Esther, of Miranda, even of Miss Keith. The Nicola/ Patrick scenes are warm and convincing, and contrast perfectly with the scenes between Patrick and Ginty in earlier books.

But there is a major flaw in my opinion, which cost this book a star and nearly cost it two: Antonia Forest always offers something redemptive. People fall out with their family and their friends rally round, or vice versa; they sleep on a catastrophe and feel better in the morning; basic human decency prevails. And she is very good, as we saw right back in Autumn Term, in showing the way that rows just fizzle out: people just aren't that interested in other peoples' grievances, friendships generally survive, people have a level of balance and realism that steps in in the end. Not here. NO teenager deserves to be left as one is in this book, in utter despair and isolation; and the trigger for it just isn't adequate. The last part of the book treats one of the characters so harshly that it is impossible to care about the supposedly feel-good (for other characters) ending. I am not sure the author really took on board that if a character is left in a situation at the end of a book, they are effectively in that situation forever; if the author doesn't offer any glimpses of hope or consolation, it just feels as if that character has been destroyed.

I don't know if Sally Hayward plans any more books in the series. This kind of series is always a challenge as the characters get older: the neatly constrained world of school gets less and less convincing as the characters are of an age where they are beginning to separate and focus on life outside and after school. But there are still some big loose ends it would be nice to see addressed. Rowan in particular: I always felt Antonia Forest had left her very badly treated, apparently condemned to live with her mother forever, working excruciatingly long hours, running the farm that would never belong to her, because neither the owner nor his heir fancied the job at the moment. I envisage her at 35 suddenly being told to move out now because Giles's family need the house and want the farm. Lawrie's total assurance that she only has to turn up at the doors of RADA to be welcomed in as a star also has possibilities: does she? I would definitely read another one, but would hope it would be a bit kinder. This one ended far too harshly for an end-of-series book.
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on 6 February 2017
i resisted this for ages because (obv) it couldn't possibly be as good as a 'proper' AF Marlow novel. And it isn't, but it is pretty damn good. It was eminently readable, although as others have said there are a few cut and paste moments and SH didn't write in real time the way AF did and I am not sure about the central plot device. Would it really have been as bad as all that?

All that being said, I LOVED it. I loved the Nicola/Patrick/Ginty love triangle. I loved that Nicola was experiencing a spiritual awareness of her own, not influenced by Patrick's Catholicism or Miranda's Judaism. I loved that Ann and Lawris stopped being ciphers and were allowed to acquire some depth.

I do NOT love that Sally Hayward has not written the next in the series yet. I can't be the only one waiting for Rowans's marvellous party or for another generation to start at Kingscote.

I also did not love the poor quality of the binding of my copy. One read in and the spine is splitting and pages are becoming loose. I have 40 year old copies of AF books that are in better condition after decades of reading.
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on 28 June 2015
As a fan of the Antonia Forest Kingscote school stories, I didn't appreciate that there were other stories about the Marlow family when school was out, like Run Away Home, probably because they've not been publicised as much and not as readily available. The last book I read, The Attic Term, left me hanging in mid-air. I didn't know Run Away Home followed on and I discovered that Spring Term, written by Sally Hayward a good few years after Antonia Forest died, continued beyond that, so I had to buy it. I like sequels to originals because as I have said elsewhere I like to think of characters living on and this is a very worthy tribute to the original Marlow series.

The author has made a great attempt to recreate the humour and style of the originals, and I recognise many of the popular phrases the girls use like 'natch' and 'muchos gracias'. In Spring Term, Ginty Marlow is still suffering the fall out of her ill-conceived illicit telephone calls to boyfriend Patrick from The Attic Term, so much so that they haven't been in contact since before Christmas. Ginty had spent the Christmas holidays with her best friend Monica and Patrick has been spending a lot of time with her younger sister, Nicola. We see that he has been developing feelings for Nicola and Ginty lands herself in trouble once again when she is caught reading one of Nicola's letters, not only with her family, but also with Monica as one lie leads to another. Lawrie is also in for a bad time when she is demoted to Upper IV B for not doing well enough in class.

An afterword by the author explains why she has written the book in the past, to follow on from Run Away Home. The first book, Autumn Term, was published in 1948 and although the other books do follow on, they have a contemporary feel to them, especially The Attic Term, which touches lightly on topics like teen sexuality (where Claudie the French au pair makes a pass at Patrick) and drugs (the Changear incident). Spring Term continues this daring theme: Claudie the au pair has been dismissed for getting 'into trouble' and we have an insight into how much Ginty loves Patrick.

The problem I have with Spring Term is that yet again I am left hanging in mid-air. How will things develop between Nicola and Patrick and will Ginty make it up with Monica? Will Lawrie be moved back to the A class so she can be with Nicola and Tim again? Maybe we're not supposed to know and should work it out for ourselves; the book was published in 2011 and I don't know of any further sequels. Also, I was a bit concerned when the author mentioned Marie Dobson in Upper IV B. Marie died in The Cricket Term, but she is not mentioned again, so either the author realised her mistake, or she was referring to an earlier B form.

Also the book isn't available on Kindle and the paperback, though nicely produced, is a bit on the pricey side.
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on 5 October 2015
I'm another who thinks that this reads just like the originals. It's exactly the same feeling that comes across as when I've read the AF ones. I'm sure that some people can analyse the content and pick holes in it, but if you just want to read a book and lose yourself in it without being hung up on whether someone has got something perfect then this is a good choice. To be perfectly honest, if you didn't know it wasn't written by AF herself then you'd be none the wiser after finishing. I hope that Sally Hayward writes a couple more because she's a writer who's capable of producing continuations in their original style (and I'd rarely say that).
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on 12 July 2015
Read this with a re-read of other AF books. Appreciate that lots of care and thought has been put into this sequel, and I would consider it an excellent piece of fan-fiction. That said, this is NOT AF. The layered nuances and crisp preciseness of language, and the deliciousness of surprise turns - you stop, taken aback, go back and re-read and it suddenly dawns on you why it was exactly so before...that bit of magic is missing. Which is not so much as putting down the author here, but giving the special AF her fair due.
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on 8 November 2014
Certainly the author has an ear for pastiche; she has Antonia Forest's voice off pat. However, the whole thing feels really dead. In the age of postmodernism (or postpostmodernism) there is little point writing "in" someone's voice with no textual commentary whatsoever on that voice. This attempt would have worked much better as a serious metafictional take on Forest. But I suppose that wouldn't sell.
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on 27 December 2011
I received this as a Christmas present (having asked for it!), and finished it a day later. I approached it with trepidation, AF being my absolute favourite author (just ahead of the likes of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope...) but buoyed up by the other reviews on here.

I'm so pleased to say that I found myself in safe hands. If I had been told that Sue Sims had, after all, discovered a lost manuscript of the follow up to RAH, I would have believed it on reading this book (though the reference to Simon Le Bon might have made me question its authenticity! Not that I found the more modern references jarring at all - that is all perfectly in keeping with AF's style). All the hallmarks are there - including, most importantly, AF's dry wit. I laughed out loud several times.

There were several places where I felt there were distinct echoes of specific instances in the earlier books, almost as if there had been a cut and paste, with only the time and place changed, but that's not really a criticism - I'd just be interested to know if anyone else felt the same.

I don't want to put any spoilers in, so I'll be careful here: I wasn't totally satisfied with the treatment of Ginty. I was happy with the way AF left her - still charming, graceful and a bit flaky. But then again, I wouldn't go so far as to say that AF would never go down the route taken by Sally Hayward. And I think she caught the other characters extremely well - some of the conversations between Miranda and Nicola, for example, could not have been bettered by AF herself. And I loved how she developed things between Patrick and Nicola.

To say I would welcome further sequel is an understatement, though I would understand if SH was reluctant to write another one, since her aim in writing this one seems to have been to finish the story off. Still, if she can reach anything like the standard of this novel with another one, I would definitely buy it. She writes so well I would also try a non-Marlow book of hers.
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on 27 September 2013
I hope AF fans will recognise the title of my review as a quote from 'The Cricket Term' and not as damnation with faint praise! Sally Hayward, in the introduction to this book, makes her own view of her limitations clear - she is just 'chivvying the characters' created by Antonia Forest; but in this, she underestimates herself, as elements of this book are inspired.
The inclusion of a French play; Nicola's participation in a radio singing competition; the hinted retirement of Miss Keith and the idea of Rose Dodd going to Kingscote all seem very much like possibilities AF herself might have explored. The style of writing is extremely faithful to AF; in the whole book, only two sentences 'jarred'; otherwise I could have believed I was reading the original.
Two aspects of the novel stopped me giving it five stars. Firstly, I felt the 'spiritual' development of Nicola's character was unconvincing. AF, as a devout Catholic convert, used Patrick as a mouthpiece for her religious views - Nicola remained a cheerful agnostic, more likely to be 'hooked' by the medieval appeal of the Tridentine service in the Merrick family chapel than by singing Anglican hymns. I do, however, forgive this in Sally Hayward - it would be unnatural for an author not to let some aspects of herself penetrate the novel, and in isolation, Nicola's development is not unconvincing - but in the strict sense of an AF continuation novel, it rings false.
Secondly, Sally Hayward explains that she doesn't feel competent to move the Marlows into the 21st Century world of online communication - hence, her central plot revolves around a letter. For me, again, this was slightly unconvincing - the staff at Kingscote are far more obsessed with the school than with family matters; it seemed unlikely that Ginty's reading of Nicola's letter would be made so much of. Had Sally Hayward had the confidence to move her characters into the next century, however, this could have been made much more convincing - Ginty hacking into Nicola's Kingscote.ac.uk email account to read Patrick's correspondence would definitely have been 'a school thing'! I'm sure, based on the rest of the book, that the author would have had the skill to do this!
One interesting thing is that, based on the information in 'The Marlows and their Maker' and 'Celebrating Antonia Forest', AF definitely intended Nicola's relationship with Patrick to take a more romantic turn. Also, at the end of this book, Ginty is left in the perfect place for AF's hinted plot developments to take place - running away to become a stable girl (far more so than belated scruples about the telephone affair in Attic Term) - and for Ann to throw away her school career to follow her (given that Sally Hayward leaves her feeling guilty about having given her away over the reading of Nicola's letter).
So - Ms Hayward - please give us another novel! I'm convinced you can move the characters into the 21st Century, if not quite as well as AF, certainly better than anyone else could. I thoroughly enjoyed this one (and part of the enjoyment was in finding the above criticisms, a pleasure for any true fan) and would love to see another book.
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on 10 December 2011
As the other reviews have pointed out, the reader forgets that this book isn't written by AF. The style of writing, the plot and the humour are all the reader would expect from AF.

This is an extremely satisfying read and is a brilliant continuation of, "Run Away Home" which I recommend re-reading before this title to appreciate how well the plot develops.

I highly recommend this book to all AF fans and I'm not surprised GGBP have had to re-print it, having sold out of the first printing. Many thanks to Sally Hayward for writing this superb book and I hope she writes a sequel.
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on 11 May 2014
Like others who have commented, I saved this book for the Christmas after it came out. I must confess I was rather on the look-out for obvious slips on first reading! I thought I had spotted one when Patrick listens to music without weeping--but on re-reading, his eyes had welled up, so I'll let that one go! His choice of A Levels at Broomfield surprised me somewhat--I thought the headmaster had made it plain when Patrick went for the interview that "soft" subjects were OUT, and yet now term has started Patrick is studying languages. I can't lay my hands on Run Away Home to verify at the moment, but I had the impression he had been told that his A Levels would have to be "tough" subjects like maths or sciences--I could be mistaken.

Anyway, I've since read the book about four or five times, and have found it a wholly delightful read and very true to AF. For the main, it really could be AF writing it. The only thing I wasn't convinced about was occasionally a phrase AF used is put in again, like the "controllable grief", and the "*I* shall be all right" type dialogue that occurs between Nick, Lawrie, Esther and Miranda at one point. The original "*I* shall be all right. Will you be all right, [name]?" occurred in the family setting. Would Nick and Lawrie's school friends have used it also? I don't know.

The author's tour de force was the seamless development of Dr Herrick with the singing competition story. The author is an expert in this field, and I was glad to see the Church of England getting a bit of attention in this book. The scenes with Dr Herrick and the choir were among the most absorbing. I felt as if I was in the practice room with them. I quote from the Guardian of a few years ago: "Choral evensong is one of England's richest traditions"--a short but very enjoyable article by someone not particularly religious experiencing the "miracle" of a few choristers in Lincoln Cathedral.

For the first time it struck me, as Nicola informs Dr Herrick that Kingscote has no choir, that Nicola has never had singing lessons. Her parents and siblings are well aware that she is a very talented singer--she did after all come second in the Colebridge Festival singing competition--so why have her parents never nurtured this talent? And why does Nicola dislike singing to the extent she appears to? We generally enjoy things that we are good at. Anyway, that aside, it was good to see her having proper tuition at last.

If I might pick a second tour de force, it would be the play, and Tim's direction of it. Full marks all round. An excellent choice of drama, and the language issue made it even more interesting.

I always had it in mind that Patrick and Miranda would be very suited to each other, ever since the play in the Cathedral the previous Christmas where Patrick is fascinated by Miranda, who, alone of the Candle Angels, remains absolutely motionless on her block throughout. At the end when they all move away, Patrick thinks of her as the "falcon angel". A Judeo-Christian relationship would be of far more interest than Anglo-Catholic, but apart from that, I just think Patrick and Miranda would be very suited to each other. I was somewhat dismayed therefore by the growing attachment between Nicola and Patrick, although it was very delicately handled by the author. I suppose my feeling is that Nicola is too young and inexperienced in these matters, although of course by today's standards she might be considered rather behind. I do see of course that Patrick's feelings for Nicola were a necessary part of the plot.

Which brings me to the central plot of the story. It had a curiously old-fashioned flavour to it, like something from a 1950s girls' school story. I would incline to agree with Heloyse that the staff would not have made so much of Ginty's offence. But at the same time, it was good that they did.

Ginty's fall from grace in this book was extremely well written. Yes, it was harsh, but it was totally believable. She's never been a terribly likeable character, after all. After the memorable Regatta when Ginty went off and hid instead of taking part in the diving competition, Mrs Marlow had made it clear she had no patience with such behaviour, and Rowan had been at her most scathing. Ginty had vowed then to abandon behaviour inspired by her closeness to Unity Logan and to reform. But, as Mr Merrick might agree, she was equally likely to lapse as to stay on the straight and narrow. It is ironic that it was a well-meaning remark, albeit a lie, that cemented the situation between Ginty and Monica.

It was good to see the development in Ann, although sad to see her trust in a favourite mistress betrayed in such a way. The back story about the horse at the stable was very well done. I found Nicola still a bit dismissive of Ann's feelings, at one point telling her that the stuff had happened was water under the bridge now. This is not a helpful thing to say.

This is an truly excellent book and I very much look forward to the next in the series!
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