Tuesday, August 11, 2009


These books took me forever to find. Drina is an eleven book series, all of which are out of print. The first 5 were favorites of mine as a munchkin, but the last 6 were never released in the US. I finally got them through the University on ILL, but they were marked Library Use Only, so I had to read them in the college library. Since then, I have collected them all. phew. I reviewed the first 6 here.

Some over-arching things apply-- these books are unbelievably old-skool British. In a vaguely racist way. Drina's temper is always blamed on her Italian blood. Or, such sentences as Drina though yearningly of summer warmth and the delights of wearing few clothes, for she was half-Italian and so naturally delighted in sunshine and warm air. eye roll.

WARNING: I am reviewing series books! While there aren't spoilers for individual titles, there might be spoilers for earlier titles in the series. It's the nature of the beast.

Drina Dances in Paris Jean Estoril

After falling so hard in luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurve on her trip to New York, Drina has some issues readjusting to the Dominick. But, Grant surely only thinks of her as a kid, and ballet must always come first. Well, maybe. Diary of a Dancer is becoming a West End play and Ilonka and Terza really want her to audition. And then... Drina gets to go to Paris to revive Casse Noisette. And... there's a surprise visitor!

Even better though, is that Drina has some issues balancing her friends, which makes her a little more human than usual!

Drina Dances in Madeira Jean Estoril

Drina's back for the new term in London. Of course, after Paris and Grant, it's a bit of a shock getting back, especially when she learns that the lease on the school in Red Lion square won't be renewed and the school will be moving. Lots more of the plot about Diary of a Dancer. There's going to be a movie and Drina's acting in the stage version again. Then, the vacation to Germany gets cancelled and it's off on a cruise instead. But there's dancing on the cruise! Of course there is!

This is where we start to see the development of my favorite subplot--Jenny's economic woes. Her father's firm fails (which I think happened in an earlier book) and so Jenny has to leave school and become a secretary, giving up all her dreams of becoming a farmer. It's a nice juxtaposition to everything going so freaking RIGHT all the time for Drina. Also, with their divirging paths, the two friends are starting to grow apart, which is heartbreaking for both of them. I love this plot line because it's the most real thing in the entire series.

Drina Dances in Switzerland Jean Estoril

Drina's grandfather has been ordered (for health reasons) to leave England for the winter, so Granny and Grandfather are off to Switzerland and they're taking Drina with them. Drina's new boarding school is not the right place for her to be by any stretch of the imagination. First off, the only ballet instruction is a twice-weekly lesson with the ballet master from La Scala. The lessons are good, but not enough, and her teachers don't understand why she wants to practice a full hour a day (a concession that Granny had to get from the headmistress.) The school is for training future diplomatic wives and is more a finishing school than anything. Drina, used to running around London and other various European capitals by herself is horrified to find she's watched every minute and not trusted here.

Drina's really tested in this book, because things are genuinely hard at her new school. She does try to make the best of it, but it doesn't come easily, and where people have tried to keep her from dancing in previous books, everyone around her at least understood (a) what dancing meant to her and (b) the amount of work needed to become a professional and (c) how good she really was at it. No one really gets that in this one, which is a first for her.

Drina Goes on Tour Jean Estoril

So, here's the book where we really realize how old Drina and her friends have gotten. Jenny's getting married!!!! And after Drina finishes her exams, she and Rose and everyone become members of the Corps de Ballet! Before that, Drina has to get used to really being famous, because the secret fact she's Ivory's daughter becomes public knowledge.

The great thing about this is how hard touring is. Drina always thought she'd love it, and she doesn't. I mean, she does, she loves the dance, but there are nights when it is work. Touring is everything she's ever heard it was and that takes a bit of adjustment.


Drina Ballerina Jena Estoril

And here's the last book. Within the first four chapters, three big things happen:


2. Drina and Grant get engaged! (Ha ha, Jenny's childhood prediction was right! Drina does end up with a businessman!)

3. The Dominick (company, not school, because Drina's all grown up now) is going to do the ballet Drina wrote for her school in Switzerland, staring Drina.

My one quibble is that Jenny has a computer. Yes, this came out in 1991, so it's possible, but the first book came out in 1957 and while they grow up, they don't grow up THAT much. My guess is in this last book it's, at latest, 1970. A small computer to help with the accounting? No.

This is a lovely wrap-up to the series. I'm so glad I was able to track down these books. If you read the Drina books growing up, do try to seek out these sequels. It's wonderful to watch as she and her friends grow up and what happens to everyone as they find their way.


Anonymous said...

I'll have to keep an out of for these! I love what she's written as Mabel Esther Allan, but for some reason I assumed the Drina series was aimed at younger readers. Seems I was wrong!

Jennie said...

Well, this is definitely a series for older kids/pre-teens. (I read them 4-6 grade.) It's just an older series so kids growing up and getting married was more normal for children's books (Anne of Green Gables, Little House, etc.)

Hazra said...

The covers remind me of those old books I used to read as a kid. They have that quaint charm to them

Anonymous said...

You're right, I didn't think about that. It's certainly not as common in kids fiction today.