Friday, March 24, 2023

A blogger re-reads all 20 of Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine stories

The writer of Life Must Be Filled Up set herself the task of re-reading all 20 of Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine stories, from Mystery at Witchend (1943) to Home to Witchend (1978). 

She reports that she enjoyed the experience more than she had expected to, and sets out her conclusions in three posts - on character, the strange behaviour of parents and romance.

Her conclusions on David Morton, the captain of the Lone Pine Club are brutal but only a little unfair. She finds him:
thick and very dull indeed with no sense of humour (there’s very little humour in the books). Far from being ‘annoyingly steady’, he’s often the one who refuses to get help from the police or adults when the Lone Piners realise they are in trouble.
The good news is that she has warmed a little to the Morton twins:
Many people are unable to read these books because they find the twins so irritating with their put-on baby talk and constant complaints about the others having secrets from them. Their propensity to get locked up in ruined cottages by villains gets rather wearing. 
Surprisingly, on this reading, I found them more tolerable, especially Mary, who is very observant and often understands other people’s feelings before any of the others do.

This time it's the previous geneations of Mortons in the firing line:
I really don’t understand the Morton parents. The children are all at boarding school, so they see little enough of them, yet they are permitted to gad off to Yorkshire, Dartmoor and Rye, when their parents must know that no good ever comes of these holidays. In Seven White Gates, they are allowed to camp at a place owned by people they don’t know. 
The Mortons put far too much responsibility on poor old David, expecting him to keep the twins safe but in Lone Pine Five and The Elusive Grasshopper they are in great danger.
All true, but then I always liked the books where the twins were in great danger best.

Home to Witchend ends with David Morton getting engaged to Peter (Petronella) Stirling, and Tom Ingles to Jenny Harman.

But, as the Call Me Madam blogger observes, there is no third engagement. Why not Jon and Penny Warrender too?
I’ve read somewhere that, as first cousins, Jon and Penny regretfully decided they didn’t have a future together. I can’t find any such reference in the texts, so I wonder where it came from?
I can help here. I've not seen the sources, but I've been told that it was Malcolm Saville himself who was worried by the prospect of cousins wedding. He discussed his doubts in letters to friends and fans of the books.

He even considered pairing Penny instead with Dan Sturt, the young West Country journalist from Saucers Over the Moor and Where's My Girl?, though there is no trace of this in the books.

So if Jon and Penny did tie the knot after the close of Home to Witchend, Malcolm Saville wasn't there to record the occasion.

If you've enjoyed this post, you may like Read Martin Crookall on Malcolm Saville's children's fiction.

1 comment:

callmemadam said...

! Thanks for reading three long posts and for the info. about Jon & Penny. I've still no idea how I knew this.