Book of the Week: The Cricket Term

Making a change from the last few weeks, we have the first children’s book pick of the year and it’s a lesser known classic – Antonia Forest’s The Cricket Term.

This is the eighth book in Forrest’s series about the Marlow siblings, this one particularly focussing around the twins and in particular Nicola. It’s the summer term and Nicola is as determined to win the cricket cup as Lawrie is to play Caliban in the school play. Except the mistress in charge of the play has other ideas, as does the Games Captain who has a definite down on Nicola. But soon Nicola has more to worry about than getting her team into shape – unless she can do something to change things, it could be her last term at Kingscote.

This is a masterpiece of a school story. The characters are rounded and nuanced. One of the central problems of the series is a big grown up one but there are plenty of other things the girls have to deal with and it has such depth and cleverness in the writing. I mean this is the point where it had me, and it never let go:

‘Yes I see all that,’ said Nicola unwillingly. She grinned. ‘Only I’d rather have a late cut that was exceedingly characteristic.’

‘Wimsey of Balliol stuff? Only, if you remember, what also won that match was Mr Tallboy becoming inspired and throwing straight for the open wicket.’

The Cricket Term by Antonia Forest

Yes, the climax is a cricket match. Yes, it’s as brilliantly written as the cricket match from Murder Must advertise so casually referred by Rowan and Nicola at the start. Yes, it leaves you with a happy smile on your face as all the threads are tied up and the villain gets a wonderfully dismissive final send off. Yes, I wish I had read this when I was “the right age”.

And why didn’t I, I wondered. I actually completely missed out on Antonia Forest when I was a child and I think that’s probably because my mum didn’t read them, so she wasn’t looking out for them to buy for me. The Cricket Term is actually written in the 1970s and didn’t get that many editions. So they didn’t come my way until I started getting deeper into the Girl’s Own genre as an adult. I read one of the holiday Marlows because I picked up a cheap second hand copy of a Girls Gone By edition, then I bought The Autumn Term at my first Book Conference. And it was good – really good, in fact it was a BotW. But they’re still quite hard to get hold of, and I am meant to be controlling myself, so I didn’t pick up this one until Book Conference last summer, and I’ve been saving it because I had heard it was good. And last week I decided I deserved a treat. And oh boy, what a treat.

If you want to read this, you’re probably going to have to have a hunt around for a copy – Amazon‘s prices are frankly insane to the point of suggesting they don’t have any, and Abebooks isn’t much lower, see also Ebay – I am however feeling much better about how much I paid for my copy! Girls Gone By have published an edition too – but theirs is also out of print, so you’re going to need to find a book dealer with a copy – and given that their print runs have decreased in recent years, that may be a hard ask. Good luck…

Happy Reading!

2 thoughts on “Book of the Week: The Cricket Term”

  1. Do you have an AF wants list? We’re having a conference and sale this weekend in NZ and I can see if there’s anything there that they’re willing to sell me to pass on to someone in the UK.

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