In the Fifth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When you ask someone their favourite Enid Blyton school story, two times out of three they will name In the Fifth at Malory Towers (1950). There's a magic to it, even coming right near the end of a popular series.
The girls are putting on a school pantomime, and there is drama offstage more than off. Vain competition for the role of Cinderella between the fluffy Gwendoline Mary and her even more ghastly mirror image Maureen; clashes of power between the uncooperative but brilliant Alicia and the hard, domineering Head of Form Moira; and protagonist Darrell desperately trying to hold things together and make a success of the play she and the musical Irene have created.
And then there are the anonymous hate letters Moira keeps receiving...
It all comes together beautifully. Moira, with her twisted relationship with her younger sister, and her clinging, self-sacrificing yet vaguely scary friend Catherine, are wonderful additions to the crew. The intensity is high, the atmosphere vicious and suspicious, and only meek Mary Lou and tomboyish Bill really seem completely apart from all the spite and power playing.
Glorious, glorious stuff. And the knowledge that Darrell will triumph beautifully in the name of friendship and hard work keeps it all from being too dark.
And of course, darling Mam'zelle Dupont plays the most marvellous trick on her bad, bad girls.
Hold it Darrell, while we slip away. It is your own great moment. There'll never be another quite like it
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