BLURB: “Scared and excited, Darrell Rivers has just arrived at Malory Towers. It’s fantastic – but huge! How is she going to remember everyone’s names, let alone find her way round? And will she ever have a special friend of her own?”
REVIEW: I’ve been seriously stressed out with uni at the moment, with a pile of deadlines and the dissertation due date looming, so I’ve been treating myself to re-reading the Malory Towers books a bit each night before bed. Enid Blyton was my favourite childhood author, and my Mum read all the Famous Five, St Clair’s and Malory Towers books to me back then; because of this, they hold very fond memories for me and always feel reassuring and familiar when I read them. This book, the first in the series, tells the story of the protagonist, Darrell Rivers, and her first term at her new boarding school. She feels she has little in common with the other two new girls, the spoilt Gwendoline and the reserved Sally, and instead is desperate to form a friendship with the sharp-tongued trickster Alicia, who already has a best friend in fellow mischief-maker Betty. As Darrell struggles to find her place at Malory Towers, and experiences terrible worries when she loses her temper and fears she has damaged the health of Sally, the reader feels a real connection with her, remembering times that they have also felt lost and out of place in a new environment. Once Darrell finds out the reason why Sally is so reserved and cold, the two become firm friends, and are joined by the shy but golden-hearted Mary-Lou; the book therefore ends with the reader knowing that the series will continue with Darrell having friends by her side. These stories may be simple, and old-fashioned to modern eyes, but they are heartwarming, and provide comfort – particularly during times of stress!