Adeline said: I feel
that in real life, most kids would make more of an attempt to prove that
they were innocent or at least not that guilty, especially over the whole
hike thing.

I agree. I've always felt if AF could be said to have a fault it's that her characters can be surprisingly mature for their age - even Lawrie, at her most babyish, doesn't tell more than her own best friend about Lois, while Nicky doesn't even do that. In real life if they'd had such a damning injustice perpetrated on them by someone who'd got away with it, with the authorities at least, you can't help feeling they'd make damn sure their own classmates heard the truth of it - what have they got to lose after all? I know AF gives us a clue about why they're so stoical when their father, at half term, tells them it would be ridiculous to rake it all up, even though he learns his own children have had their reputations tainted (so, no Winslow Boy reaction there). It's one of those moments when you really warm to Ann, isn't it, when she insits the truth ought to be known?

I put this point to AF when I wrote her a fan letter in the early 1980's. I told her how much I loved her books, but said if I found one thing hard to swallow it was that her characters were too good at not talking about things and not bearing grudges more. She answered that she'd always been intensely irritated by people who couldn't keep a secret so she made her Marlowes very good at it. I still don't think that explains why Nicky and Lawrie are, at moments like this, so devoid of the ordinary instinct not to submit to a burning injustice.


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