I have been working very hard on my new book and felt I deserved a reward, so you know what that means – Antonia Forest read-along time! And really, with the world in its current state of chaos and despair, what better time to immerse oneself in a nice story about English children enjoying their summer holidays on a country estate. That’s pretty much all I know about Falconer’s Lure, except I’ve also read that it’s a pony book, but with falcons instead of ponies. I am totally on board for anything involving posh country estates, although I’m a bit wary about the falconry, being very much against animal cruelty, especially involving birds. Then again, most of my knowledge of falconry comes from reading T. H. White’s biography and he was notoriously bad at doing it, so maybe it’s not as awful as I think.
For those new to this series of books, they feature the Marlow family, which consists of Commander Marlow, Mrs Marlow and eight Marlow offspring: Giles, Karen, Rowan, Ann, Ginty, Peter and identical twins Nicola and Lawrie. In the first book, Autumn Term, the twins had an eventful first term at their new boarding school. In the second, The Marlows and The Traitor, Nicola, Peter and Ginty got caught up in a terrifying adventure on land and at sea after uncovering a naval spy. Whatever will they get up to on their summer holidays? With Antonia Forest, anything is possible.
Chapter One: Jael in the Morning
This is the first Marlow book that’s explicitly stated the year in which it’s set. It takes place in the summer of 1948 at Trennels Old Farm (exact location unspecified), which was requisitioned by the military during the war and recently inherited by Cousin Jon after the death of their Great Uncle Lawrence. The story begins with Nicola fetching the breakfast eggs from the farmer and glorying in the sunlit countryside, when she hears what she thinks is a distressed cat stuck in a tree. Nicola, “who had a tender feeling for all animals except anteaters”, climbs to the rescue and finds herself facing what seems to be an enraged eagle. Actually, it’s a goshawk called Jael, as Nicola is informed by its supercilious owner, Patrick Merrick, whom she recognises as a friend of her brother Peter’s from before the war. Patrick snaps orders at her, calls her a “clot” and “silly” for not knowing everything he does about falconry and is unsympathetic when Jael slices open Nicola’s ungloved thumb. What a lovely boy. I sincerely hope he’s not a future love interest for Nicola. Or any of her sisters. Or her brothers. I think even Giles deserves better.
Anyway, they rescue Jael and walk back to Patrick’s house, exchanging family news. Giles is now a Lieutenant, Karen is off to read Classics at Oxford, Rowan is going into Sixth Form and will probably be Games Captain (what, not Head Girl?), Peter is doing well at Dartmouth, Nicola’s father has been promoted to Captain, and the Marlows’ Hampstead house is finally habitable again after being bombed in the war.
Meanwhile, Patrick’s father has just been elected an MP, so his family has to move to London. I’m not sure why – can’t his father stay in a flat there when Parliament is sitting so his family can remain at their country estate? Patrick also reveals he attends a local day school, which he loathes, but that he hasn’t been at school at all for the last two years:
“Expelled?” [Nicola] asked instantly, for she was always hoping to meet someone to whom this enthralling thing had happened.
But it turns out Patrick was ill. I wonder what made him too sick for school for two years. Polio? TB? They were both deadly diseases in the 1940s.
Nicola is impressed with Patrick’s beautiful hunting birds (even though the poor things are TIED UP and UNABLE TO FLY). Apart from Jael, there’s Regina, an imperious peregrine falcon, and The Sprog, a sweet little jack merlin. Patrick asks if Nicola will help him look after the hawks. They really belong to Jon, but Jon’s busy being a test pilot for experimental planes at the local airfield. Naturally, Nicola says yes. Then she goes back to Trennels to breakfast, Patrick refusing to come in and say hello to the family (“I don’t think I could meet eight practically strange people on an empty stomach”). That’s okay, Patrick, they probably wouldn’t enjoy meeting you, either.
Chapter Two: Grand Stoop
Back at Trennels, Mrs Herbert, the housekeeper, is loudly unimpressed with Patrick’s “nasty great birds”, because one of the hawks killed her old cat and she has quite reasonable fears for the wellbeing of young Fluff. Nicola tends to her wounded thumb and goes in to breakfast, where much is revealed about the Marlows.
Firstly, the hawks were really Great Uncle Lawrence’s and Jon inherited them reluctantly. Jon also says the RAF used hawks to kill pigeons near airfields during the war. Really? I happen to know a bit about pigeons in WWII and there was actually an official campaign to shoot birds of prey to stop them killing carrier pigeons, which were a vital part of military communications. That was mostly on the east coast of England, though, and who knows where Trennels is. Jon throws about a lot of hawking jargon, which interests Nicola and Karen, then they get onto the subject of Patrick. Nicola reports Patrick is “nicer than he was” (he must have been appalling before) and Jon tells them Patrick was badly injured and nearly killed when he fell off a cliff while trying to steal baby hawks from a nest. No wonder Patrick’s mother doesn’t like his hawks.
It also turns out Captain Marlow knows quite a bit about hawks, too (so Jon is his cousin, not Mrs Marlow’s) but he was never allowed to go near them because he was so “rough and rude”. Ginty is horrified to hear that hawks are used to hunt not just rabbits and partridges (that is, animals that you can eat) but also larks and blackbirds for entertainment. Jon says it’s all great fun, like “watching hounds at work with a fox” and that he thinks objections to blood-sports are “a bit exaggerated”. Well, I’m with Ginty on this issue. She storms off, but Mrs Marlow explains it’s only because she’s “been worked up and weepy since Easter”, after what Jon thinks was the children “getting themselves shipwrecked and having to spend the week-end in a lighthouse”. Captain Marlow is coldly unsympathetic and says “it’s time she got over it”.
Well, actually she wasn’t just shipwrecked. She was KIDNAPPED by a SOCIOPATHIC TRAITOR and DRUGGED and forced to wade through a tunnel (even though she’s been terrified of enclosed spaces ever since she was BURIED ALIVE UNDER A BOMBED HOUSE IN THE BLITZ) and then she nearly DROWNED and was on the verge of being MURDERED BY NAZI SPIES and afterwards was FORBIDDEN TO TALK ABOUT HER EXPERIENCES so if anyone has the right to be a bit shaken, it’s Ginty.
The family think Ginty’s lack of moral fibre is due to her new school friend Unity Logan, whom I kept picturing as Unity Mitford. Unity is an intense child who goes around adoring Ginty, telling Rowan, “I’d risk more than an order mark for a friend like Ginnie. I think she’s the most beautiful thing the gods ever made.” As if that isn’t bad enough, Nicola notes that Unity writes poetry. About Beauty. And also writes long holiday letters to Ginty.
Lawrie tries to draw attention back to herself by reminding them all she has a limp from when she was run over by a car. She is firmly squashed by her father, who says it’s boring to talk about illness. Then he humiliates Ann, who is just trying to make sure Nicola’s wounded thumb is properly bandaged. Then he tries to berate Peter for not addressing Cousin Jon with the proper formality, but fortunately Peter is already out of earshot. And Mrs Marlow hurries to placate her husband. My already low opinion of Captain Marlow has descended to uncharted depths. Maybe he and Patrick could go off and live together in some other, non-Marlow, book, so I don’t have to read about them anymore.
But I think my favourite bits of these books are the keen psychological observations. For example, here’s Peter when Nicola explains that Patrick only wants her to visit the hawks:
“Oh, all right,” said Peter carelessly. He felt such an odd mixture of feelings – hurt astonishment that Patrick should have warned him off, jealousy because Nicola was admitted to what was evidently privileged ground, and fury with himself for being either hurt or jealous – that the only thing to do was to spin round and dash after Cousin Jon, shouting “Wait for me, man! I’m coming!”
Peter goes off with Jon to the airfield while Nicola and Patrick walk to the Crowlands and try, unsuccessfully, to get The Sprog to pounce on a lure. There are some lovely descriptions of the countryside and of Jon’s plane “plunging down the sky”, the vapour trails “sketched across the blue like lines drawn by a slate pencil”. Then comes a moment when “the landscape seemed to quiver”, “as if the air went solid” and it appears someone has lit a bonfire on the horizon, although they don’t hear anything. And, because I’ve read to the end of the chapter and I know what’s coming, I’ll just add that Nicola then passes on the message that Jon will come to see the hawks soon and Patrick says, “Tomorrow, I expect. He’ll be dead to the world tonight.” Oh, no…
Anyway, Patrick and Nicola walk back to his house, having a bonding moment over their respective obsessions (medieval nobility for Patrick, the Navy for Nicola) and then tend to the hawks. But before Patrick can accompany Nicola to Trennels for supper, he’s stopped in a very awkward manner by his housekeeper. And then on the way back Nicola meets Peter, who looks and sounds very odd:
“The sun came down in slanting lines through the trees, and made a fishnet of light on the bed of the stream. It was doing that when Nicola and Peter first met. It was still doing so, five minutes later. But by then Peter had managed to tell her that Cousin Jon had been killed when the plane crashed, and that made everything look quite different.”
Oh, no! Poor Jon. Poor Peter, who had to watch his cousin being killed. And what’s going to happen to Trennels now? Jon doesn’t seem to have any children. Do the Marlows inherit Trennels or is there some other relative around?
Next, Chapter Three: “No One Ever Tells Us Anything”
You might also be interested in reading:
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Two
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Three
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Four
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Five
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Six
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Seven
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Eight
Antonia Forest fanfiction: a reader's guide
Posted on February 13, 2015
I won’t say too much about Antonia Forest here, as that’s a whole ’nother blog. But I’ve mentioned her on Twitter a few times, in response to questions about best books, most reread books, underestimated books, comfort books…
This week, I tweeted I’d found a new Antonia Forest fanfic. And a reply, by @PP_Rubens, asked ‘Why is there not a Readers Guide to AF fanfic somewhere?’
Why not indeed, I thought, and thus. I’m a fanfic fan in general, but the fanfic from Antonia Forest fans is, not to sound too much like Unity Logan, rather exceptional. Thanks to all who’ve taken the time to write fics; for those who like to read it, here’s where to find it.
To start off, all 95+ Archive of our Own Antonia Forest works are here, and the Trennels fanfiction link is here. I’ve gone through both and put stories into categories, as below.
Some of these will cross over with others, for example some of the fics posted on Archive of Our Own have also been posted on Trennels as Yuletide challenges, and some will cross genres, for example Future lives and Short fic.
Where a fic might fit in a couple of categories, I've used the word length to make the final decision: e.g., Esther's Term and New Term (as full-length works) are included here in 'Straightforward and Spin-offs' rather than in 'Supporting Characters' (as the latter might indicate a shorter piece to those looking for novels or novellas).
I’ve categorised as many fics as possible, including some of the very short fics, which are also included in their original thread under 'Drabbles and Yuletide fic' below. I’ve linked separately where poss, including the short and Drabble stories, apart from where the original LiveJournal account was deleted.
I’ve also included word counts; omitted when not available.
[**NEW**March 2015: ETA! Can't believe I forgot the LOLCATs. Probably not fanfic in the strictest sense, but included for weep-inducing hilarity.
Autumn Term, The Marlows and the Traitor, The Ready-Made Family and Attic Term here. Falconer's Lure, End of Term, Peter's Room and The Cricket Term here. Lol.
Also ETA March 2015: I'll update with new fics when I see them; they're below with a double asterisk, date and 'NEW' Please do drop me a line in the comments or at laura at lauracanning dot net if you have a fic I've missed or have written one you'd like added here. Ta.
ALSO ETA April 2015: I've decided to italicise titles that are novel or novella length, for the ease of those looking for longer fics.]
Drabbles, Yuletide and short fic
(I've defined 'short fic' as under a few hundred or so words; other short pieces of 250(ish) words or more are under the relevant categories below. Some short pieces, such as 'Exhausted Soil' below (315 words), have been categorised elsewhere when another category seems more relevant, in this case Crossovers.)
Where Giles was going in Port Wade (250 words).
Home is the Sailor (100 words): Peter and Fob.
Entente Cordiale and All-Night Sitting (100 and 464 words): Claudie in pillow talk, twice.
Mythopoeia (94 words): The Dodd children read a certain book.
**NEW** September 2015: The Concert Party (109 words): Fob, Edwin and Karen discuss the village concert.
Straightforward and spin-offs
Against the Clock (14099 words) and The Importance of Elsewhere, novellas following Ginty’s fantasy in Attic Term to run away and be a ‘stable girl’ in Ireland.
Term of Duty (30277 words): Nicola and Lawrie in the Sixth.
Netball and Cricket: extra scene from Term of Duty.
Appointments and Disappointments (3321 words): “I expect it’ll be Pippin. You’d like to be head girl, wouldn’t you, Pippin?” / “Yes, I would,” said Pomona stolidly. “And when I am you’ll have to call me Pomona always.”
Last Term (500 words): Miranda and Pippin after Lawrie and Tim’s final Kingscote play.
In Her Element (1572 words): Ann starts in the Upper Sixth.
Spring Term [link to novel for sale]: full-length novel by Sally Hayward, published by Girls Gone By.
A Flutter in the Dovecote (323 words): Patrick and Jukie, The Thuggery Affair.
[untitled]: the train on End of Term, from Esther’s point of view.
Shattering Thoughts (6126 words): seven perspectives of The Tempest from The Cricket Term.
Sugar (9915 words): The Marlows’ and Merricks' eighteenth century past.
**NEW** March 2015: Esther's Term: full-length novel from Esther's POV. With thanks to the author for help in archiving this and New Term, below.
**NEW** March 2015: New Term: full-length novel on Rowan in IIIA; how the Rowan and Lois feud started.
**NEW** March 2015: A Book Once Begun (500 words): Nicola starts a new book and isn't sure she likes it.
**NEW** August 2015: Re-enactment Types (2775 words): Nicola borrows Lawrie's new camera - with frightening results.
**NEW** August 2015: Pesach (3062 words): Miranda's Passover.
One Woman’s Disaster (400 words): Miranda’s thoughts on giving Nicola the ‘coughing bear’ dress.
Nicola and Lawrie Divided (2947 words): Nicola in IIIA, while Lawrie recovers at Trennels from the broken leg sustained in The Marlows and the Traitor.
Rowan’s Winter (7959 words): Rowan at Trennels following Run Away Home.
Nelson’s Thread (3494 words): on the type of simpering child making guiles at the grownups that Tim is scathing about in Autumn Term.
Bravely, My Diligence (3665 words): on The Cricket Term.
**NEW** March 2015: Holiday Snaps: a novella from the perspectives of various Marlows. Continuing on from Esther's Term, by the same author.
**NEW** August 2015: An Unstrange Shape (1477 words): Miss Cromwell and Nicola's conversation at the end of The Cricket Term.
The Voyage (full-length novel): Nicola sailing round the world single-handed as per her stated ambition in The Cricket Term; also Nicola/Patrick.
Homecoming (4575 words): Nicola at The Shop.
Links to the Past (2131 words): Miranda and Jan meet after Kingscote.
Partnership (1082 words): Nicola and Patrick reminisce.
Auld Lang Syne (1438 words): A future Twelfth Night party at the Merricks'.
End of Summer (1820 words): ‘Nicola and Patrick spend a quiet afternoon at the end of summer.’
...or What You Will (2739 words): Another future Twelfth Night party, from Ginty’s POV.
False Advertising: ‘Some sort of comeuppance for Tim.’
Lawrie’s Wedding (1836 words).
**NEW** March 2015: The Prosser: Short fics about former holders of the Alice Prosser Scholarship, including a separate, longer one here.
**NEW** March 2015: Firechick: A supporting character from The Thuggery Affair in later life.
**NEW** August 2015: Kingscote Old Girls' Association Magazine (650 words): Future lives of Kingscote characters.
**NEW** August 2015: Playing for a Draw (3770 words): Miss Lambert meets Lois Sanger.
**NEW** August 2015: Mrs Patrick (1345 words): 'A short and not necessarily happy take on Nicola and Patrick's married life.'
**NEW** August 2015: An Enormous Surprise to Everyone (1224 words): Fob and a word with Rose.
**NEW** August 2015: Changes (4637 words): Introducing Phil, Jan's 'hairy monster' 'pop band' brother.
**NEW** September 2015: Le garçon aux yeux d'or (1100 words): Ginty has an unexpected encounter in Paris.
Future lives - femslash and slash
Milan, Con Amore (2279 words): Miranda and Jan meet again.
Links to the Past (2131 words): Miranda and Jan.
Sales: Miranda and Jan.
God send euery gentleman (5966 words): Patrick meets Giles, more than once.
Revelations: On Giles’s boyfriend.
**NEW** August 2015: A Fresh Coat Of Paint (2042 words): Esther meets Rowan.
(Particularly Dorothy L Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey, Mary Renault and The Charioteer, Josephine Tey, the Chalet School stories and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.)
Dangers Untold, Hardships Unnumbered (29153 words): Lawrie summons the Goblin King in a crossover with the film Labyrinth.
A Wand with Sixteen Strings: Full-length Harry Potter crossover featuring the Marlow twins at Hogwarts. 'We've simply got to be credits to the family. You can't imagine what they'd say if we ended up in Hufflepuff...'
Home From Sea: another Marlow/Potterverse fic from the author of A Wand with Sixteen Strings.
Change Partners and Dance: Nicola and Lawrie at the Hogwarts Yule Ball. '... set in the same universe as A Wand With Sixteen Strings and Home From Sea, though if you haven't read those all you really need to know is that the Marlows are at Hogwarts, Nicola and Lawrie are in Harry's year, and Patrick is a centaur called Patroklos who is living in the Forbidden Forest.'
That Still Centre (2954 words): Jan Scott and Peter Wimsey.
Lois Sanger Disposes (4432 words): following Lois at a College of Physical Training after leaving Kingscote. Crossover with Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes.
Giles Marlow’s One and Only (14254 words): if Giles were to marry a Chalet School girl, who would it be?
Five Have Fun with the Marlows: a novel by the author of Esther's Term and New Term in which George Kirrin and Nicola Marlow meet.
The Marlows at St Mildred’s (19630 words): Nicola and Lawrie at the Chalet School.
Vormarlow's Honour (20151 words): ‘…what might have happened if the Marlows had been born in Lois McMaster Bujold's Nexus.’
Matthew Shardlake’s Black Journal (1610 words): crossover with CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series.
Now and Then: Ginty considers Trebizon.
Without Reservation (2064 words): Dr Herrick; crossover with David Blaize by EF Benson.
Consistently Homesick (27962 words): the Marlow world crossed with Mary Renault’s The Charioteer.
To Strive, To Seek (4128 words): the Marlows and The Charioteer.
A Little Radio (3209 words): the Marlows and The Charioteer.
The Parting Glass (6882 words): The Marlows and The Charioteer, two Irish Bloody Sundays and a trip to Dublin.
L'allegro (4191 words): The Marlows, The Charioteer and Return to Night.
**NEW** March 2015: Exhausted Soil (315 words): The Marlows and Return to Night.
**NEW** September 2015 (written April 2004): The Chalet School and the Marlows: an incomplete novel published on The CBB.
The Kingscote Term (3435 words): End of Term from Miss Hellier’s point of view.
Going Back (1564 words): Esther dreads returning to school after the events of Attic Term.
The Next Christmas (4499 words): Ann and Patrick talk.
The Interior Life of Meg Hopkins (2056 words): about being a child who doesn’t fit in around the likes of the popular Marlows and caustic Tim.
Super New Insights (963 words): ‘How Claudie came to be a "sort-of au pair" for the Merricks.’
All-Night Sitting (464 words): Another piece on Claudie in pillow talk.
**NEW** August 2015: Mrs Herbert Remembers (6303 words): The Trennels cook looks back.
Alternative universe/AU and gloriously bonkers
Five Things That Never Happened to Ann Marlow.
P. Todd, Destroyer of Worlds (1031 words): two spies meet in a Soho café.
The Amateurs (700 words): not strictly AU, but included here for the delicious and most un-Ironsides idea of Miss Cromwell discovering fan fiction.
Nicolantha, the Witch (360 words): Nicola’s seventh child of a seventh child.
In tail male (750 words): The Marlows do genderswap.
**NEW** March 2015: Timeslip, Gymslip (378 words): Miss Keith stuck in 1948.
Missing scenes, part II
I’ve been unable to find these stupendous fics I remember; would be Most Grateful if anyone knows where they can be found.
Esther’s Term and New Term, two full-length novels on Esther and on Rowan and Lois. (Update March 2015: found! Added above, under 'Straightforward and spin-offs'.)
Miranda, Jan and Alicia: shamefully, I can’t remember the name of this excellent long novel-length fic, probably one of the first Antonia Forest fanfics I read. Jan is a vet and in a relationship with her partner Alicia, but the Ghost of Miranda hovers over all.
**NEW** March 2015: Pomona Todd, Vampire Slayer [now in comments.]
The short short where Nicola and Miranda kiss on the roof during The Tradition. 'Oke?' 'Oke.'
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