Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stop Hating on the North!

The Ballet Family Again Jean Estoril

Not much time has passed between the end of The Ballet Family and its sequel. There is certainly lots of ballet and Joan's attempts to fit in with the Garland family, but most of the focus is on Anne and her changing relationship with Lisa, who stopped attending the Thorburg School and started attending the same school as Joan and Peigi. Joan and Peigi naturally take Lisa under their wing, which convinces Anne that she's lost her dearest friend forever. There's also a fun subplot involving Edward and his girlfriend, who seems to only be attracted to him because of his family's fame. Delphine, as always and even more so, continues to be a piece of work and constantly creates a nuisance of herself.

A few things irked me-- Joan's life is pretty well settled in this book, and the narrator seems to place the success of this on Joan changing and that the initial friction was because there was something deficient in Joan (and how could there not be, growing up in the North of England! She really was raised under a rock!) Grrrr. I really feel that fault actually lies with the Garlands. They were not all that nice or understanding to Joan.

Also, there is the continuing saga of Pelagia and Timothy. Pel's very set that she doesn't want to get married and instead concentrate on her career (which makes sense. She's 18!) but everyone else (including her parents) seem to think such feelings are very silly and encourage her to marry the boy already. Uhhhhh... The book's a bit old fashioned, but 1964? Should she really be pressured into marrying so young?

And, of course, my resentment at how awfully the North is portrayed. I asked the British History expert that lives in my house if the North really was so bad in the mid '60s. He says (and this is largely based on the stories the old men used to tell at the pub) that the canals were nasty and that everything was much dirtier and grimier, but that was the only difference. Sadly, this London snobbery about the North is still true today. Stupid London.

But, I do like the role of food. Estoril often proclaims how hungry ballet dancers are and how much they have to eat. She seems to have them all on the Michael Phelps diet. Of course, she was writing when Balanchine was still in the process of transforming the ideal image of a ballet dancer, so I think it was more true then. Now, I'm not so sure.

Overall though, while it's no Drina, I did rather like it, but that's because it's Estoril and there are many things I will forgive her.

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1 comment:

Charlotte said...

And yet the author herself was from the north of England...

I think I said this in person to you at Kidlit con, but the best English ballet series ever are Lorna Hill's books, a series that begins with A Dream of Sadlers Wells. I'd also recommend a book called Ballet for Laura, and also Listen for the Nightingale, by Rumer Godden.

and happy blog birthday!