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Far to Go

Far to Go was first published in 1976, with a US edition the same year. A UK edition is still available, but is out of print in the US.


Story | Thoughts | Editions and Availability

Story

Far to Go begins a few months after Thursday's Child ended. Sarah Beamish, who is in charge of wardrobe for the Fortescue Theatre, sees an advertisement for a "clever girl to appear eleven" at the Dolphin Theatre in London. Without telling the rest of the company, Sarah takes Margaret Thursday to London for an audition, and Margaret gets a principal role in a play called The Little Queen.

Rather than going to school in London, Margaret does lessons with Katie Teaser, the daughter of Sir John Teaser who owns the Dolphin Theatre. Katie also wishes to be an actress, but her mother (who had, herself, been an actress before marrying Sir John) wants a different life for her daughter. Margaret is ahead of Katie in ordinary lessons, but Katie has read far more books and plays.

When the play opens, Margaret gets excellent reviews. Lavinia, Peter and Horatio are brought over from Ireland by their grandfather to see it, and they have tea with Margaret and Katie. Lavinia gives Margaret a frightening piece of news: before the performance she saw Matron from the orphanage outside the theatre. Matron had looked almost mad, and she had been muttering "I'll get her. You wait and see, I'll get her" (Far to Go, 1976:100).

In spite of the care that is taken, one foggy night Margaret is kidnapped by Matron.

Connections to Other Books

Far to Go is a direct sequel to Thursday's Child.

Thoughts

(This section contains "spoilers" for those who have not read the book.)

Far to Go contains a fascinating picture of theatrical life at the turn of the century. There is also the opportunity to tell an enjoyable story about Katie's desire to act, and her mother's determination that she will not.

Unfortunately, much of this potential is sublimated under the thriller style tale of Margaret's kidnapping by Matron - who has become a much more caricatured villain than she was in Thursday's Child. In particular, Katie's story is concluded in a very perfunctory manner, with her mother unexpectedly changing her mind. The rationale that this is because of meeting Margaret and seeing that "Nobody can say being on stage and taking a big part had spoiled that child, so why should it spoil little Katie?" (Far to Go, 1976:157) seems rather unconvincing, and somewhat at odds with her original reasoning that she didn't want Katie to undergo the hardships of a life in the theatre. Given Noel's skill at writing stories about the minutae of everyday life, she could certainly have given Katie's story a much more detailed and interesting development, and a more convincing conclusion. it is somewhat disappointing that she chose to set this aside in favour of the excitement of Margaret's kidnapping.

Matron remains at large at the end of Far to Go. It is possible that Noel was holding her in reserve, in case she wished to write another Margaret Thursday story. Perhaps it is a good thing that she did not - yet another tale of Margaret escaping Matron's clutches would stretch credibility even further than Far to Go.

Editions and Availability

UK Editions

Far to Go was first published in 1976 by Collins, with Charles Mozley illustrations. A second impression came out in 1977.

In 1978 a Lion paperback edition was released. This was reprinted at least twice in the 1980s.

US Editions

It was released in the United States in 1976, by Dell, and reprinted in 1986.

A paperback was released in 1986 by Dell Yearling/Bantam Books.

As I have not read the US editions, I do not know if the text was in any way amended.

Still in Print

1999 Collins paperback of Far to Go - click to see HarperCollins webpage    

Far to Go is out of print in the US.

In the UK, Collins released a paperback edition in 1999.

HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. © 1976 Noel Streatfeild

 


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Images reproduced by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
© 1976 Noel Streatfeild

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