Monday, May 15, 2017

The New Girl and Nancy

After a bit of a pause, today I have decided to write a bit about a book I have been reading this week.

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.
We last 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 so when she was spirited away from people who only wanted to be her parents for who she was for the Stephen's, 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 Guildery 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 spit her in a battle for affections to apply too even though she really has no need to  given her financial security which indeed brings an attempted kidnapping and would crush Desda's ambitions.
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 as finding Nancy in 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 and wanting to play for Maudsley in the inter school cricket match.
She finds even though she prepared for the scholarship exam revising, she struggles recalling information and understanding what the question is really requiring so she fails it. Pride isn't enough to get you through that.
Having recovered from her injuries, she plays 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.
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.

1 comment:

  1. I also now have the full set of "Nancy" books. I read them originally as a kinder-garden child, due to the fact that I learned to read at a very young age. My mother had a very large collection of girls boarding school stories.

    I am now attempting to build a similar library of my own. I have a couple of the Nancy stories in the original hard back editions.