As a child, Enid Blyton was my favourite author and for my ‘book you wish you could live in’, I have chosen the Malory Towers series. (Technically 6 books but shhh!***) The series centres around Darrell Rivers, a young girl who is just beginning her time at Malory Towers, a boarding school set against the idyllic backdrop of the Cornish coast. Darrell is eager to excel at school and hopes to make lots of friends. She has a fiery temper – perhaps that’s why I related to her so much – which gets her into trouble a few times, especially in the first 2 books.
Eventually she settles down and by the end of her sixth and final year, she is the school’s head girl, having already been head of fourth form and games captain of the fifth. She has made lots of friends, including Mary-Lou, Sally, Wilhelmina, Jean, Belinda and even the spoiled, unpopular Gwendoline. She leaves Malory Towers, headed for St Andrews University with Sally and tasks her younger sister Felicity with upholding the same standards that Darrell and her friends had set.
I chose this as a book I wish I could live in because Blyton made the adventure of living away from home with all your friends sound so amazing. Midnight feasts, horse riding, swimming in the sea and visiting beautiful Cornish beaches. I wanted to be like Darrell; no, I wanted to BE Darrell. To excel at lacrosse and tennis, be captain of the sports team and be looked up to as head girl. This series allowed me to get lost in the story, as do most of Enid Blyton’s books. I could step into the pages and be there as Darrell’s father performed an operation on Sally in the school’s sick-bay or go horse riding with Clarissa and Wilhelmina. This series made the childhood threat of being shipped off to boarding school a lot less fearsome!
As a side note, Enid Blyton also wrote the St Clares series. A similar boarding school setting, this time the main protagonists are twin girls. Another good read.
***There are 6 more books written in 2009 by Pamela Cox. These follow Darrell’s sister Felicity and her friends. I haven’t read these, only the first 6 official stories by Blyton.