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August Books 18) The Warden's Niece

18) The Warden's Niece, by Gillian Avery

The Warden's Niece is no relation to The Warden, though of course they share a common background in the nineteenth century (this book set in 1875 and written in 1957). Eleven-year-old Maria runs away from school to her great-uncle who is the Warden of an Oxford college. She gets put in with the three sons of the neighbouring house, and their eccentric temporary tutor Mr Copplestone (who would certainly be played by Stephen Fry in the movie version). She also develops her own little research programme, solves a historical mystery, and thus gets her Bildung. It's a lovely little book. My favourite scene is where she manages to talk her way into the Bodleian Library, in a combination of drive to find the answers to the historical mystery that has been puzzling her, and carrying out the terms of a dare from one of the boys next door. But I am a sucker for the Bodleian anyway.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
bopeepsheep
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:11 pm (UTC)
Stephen Fry's too robust IMO (Hugh Laurie might work, though) - Copplestone's gangly, IIRC. I used to love re-reading this the night before coming in to Oxford to wander around.

Will you read the sequels (have you read this before?)?
nwhyte
Aug. 22nd, 2006 09:47 am (UTC)
There are sequels? Great!

I don't think I'd read it before; I thought I had dipped into it in the school library, but I was wrong. I also half-remember half-hearing it being read on Jackanory. What was particularly nice was that both my wife and I got through it during our journey back from England!
bopeepsheep
Aug. 22nd, 2006 10:17 am (UTC)
Trespassers At Charlcote; James Without Thomas; The Elephant War (less of a direct sequel than the first two). Maria's Italian Spring is much harder to find than the others IME; I think they're all out of print though. :( I've got TAC & TEW, and our library when I was a child had the other two but I've never seen copies since.

I have half a memory of it on Jackanory but I may be mistaken. It's one of the reasons I always wanted to work at the Bod, and I got my wish. :D (Didn't tell them that at interview though.)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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