In a message dated 13/11/2004 15:32:47 GMT Standard Time, Nicky  writes:

>Perhaps I'm just very dull (and I wouldn't deny accusations  of humdrummity) 
even as a child I preferred Petrova and Myra Forum and  Ginny Bell (and Paul 
whose singing voice was like a nutmeg grater) and I  would have hated for 
to have developed unlikely talents. I don't want  my heroes and heroines to 
through because they are talentedbut because  they are persistent and clever 
(thus Klaus is my favourite Baudelaire  because he has neither sharp teeth, 
a talent for cookery of invention,  but simply works hard at reading). I 
that's why I've just never really  liked fantasy even when it doesn't involve 

I think it's de  gustibus, really - I love fantasy, and if you're implying 
that the Cinderella  theme is fantasy, I'm sure you're right.  What tickled me 
was not just  Rachel being a fine actor (and why is this unlikely?  NS tells us 
that her  dead father was a fine actor; she's good at English, sensitive and 
responsive,  loves Shakespeare, is given extra work and learning-by-heart by 
wotserhame, the  governess (the book is approx. three yards away, but I'm 
lazy), and so on -  blimey, what a parenthesis), but the kick-in-the-face it 
to the wicked  stepmother and ugly sister (well, ugly in character).  

I agree,  actually, about liking Myra and Petrova, but this is surely not 
just for  psychological reasons, so to speak, but because NS is working from 
own  memories of being the odd one out, the one who, though she desperately 
wanted  her parents' approval, never seemed to have it; and therefore we are 
constantly  led to identify with these characters. The epitome of this type is 
Ginny, of  course, but one can see it right from her earliest work (Tanya, in 
'The  Whicharts' is the prototype of Petrova).  Come to think of it, Petrova  
has a huge talent; just not in the entertainment industry. 
It's surely a theme running through much of her work, and, I'd argue,  
through all of her best work, that of the outsider, the Ugly Duckling, who 
good in some way.  That way is frequently through discovering a  talent; but 
even so, NS never hides the hard work.  I think you're a little  dismissive 
Rachel, who has been working at her talent - see parenthesis  above; but is 
it that different from Lala and Harriet, except that Lala isn't a  monster and 
Harriet's talent is revealed more gradually?  It's still the  role-reversal.
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