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The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown is a book I read over and over again as a child and absolutely loved. Even then, back in the Seventies, it was old fashioned, but it had charm and magic and I adored it. Netgalley offered me the chance to review it for a re-release and I jumped at it.  This is now listed as Blue Door 1 (the book is about a group of children who discover an old hall with a blue door that they turn into their very own theatre), and there are three other books in the series that I didn’t know about until a few weeks ago.

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I was really excited to read this. I really hoped it had managed to retain its magic for me. Sadly it hadn’t. There were little sparks here and there, but mostly I think for the nostalgia of thinking of my young self reading, rather than anything the book brought to me as an adult. I was devastated to find that I really disliked the characters of the children. I found them insufferably snobbish and downright rude a lot of the time, particularly to each other. The youngest child, Maddy, was the most tolerable, and as the sequel is about her, I might read it, just to find out what happens to her, but I was really not terribly interested in the others.

The plot was also rather leaden. It starts reasonably well and ends on a high, with the children entering a drama competition, but the middle turned out to be a rather repetitive, list style plot of plays the children did at various times of the year, interspersed with them being at school thinking about the plays they’re going to do later in the year. It was enlivened slightly by a trip to Stratford, which was well written, but the rest was rather flat.

I have some books from my childhood that have stood the test of time, but this, not so much.

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