Auriel Roe’s episodic novel is old-fashioned in the nicest possible way. Imagine a kinder, less cynical rendition of the school in Waugh’s “Decline and Fall”. Imagine Stalky & Co’s school moving with the times. In some ways reading A Blindefellows Chronicle is a sort of Goodbye, Mr Japes. None of these is any bad thing.
As a former boarder, albeit at one of the last state grammar schools, in an equally small and isolated school, I recognised many things in this book. This is a tribute to Auriel Roe’s imagination, research or experience, and most certainly to her writing skill.
The chronicled-style, skipping on a few years at a time, made me invest a great deal of emotion in the characters, good and bad. I was always trying to second guess what would happen in the next chapter. It also brought home to me how much England has changed in my lifetime.
But best of all, “Blindefellows” (the book is destined to be referred to by aficionados in this way, surely?) is funny. Wryly, sharply and dryly – funny, all the way to an end which has that much-maligned quality “pathos”.
I recommend this book very highly and hope to read more from the author sometime soon.
An unusual book in so many ways, not least for naming a character "Mafalda" which will have raised a smile among anyone who has spent time with Latin Americans.